Iran is a magnificent country. With landscapes vastly different from north to south, east to west. Deserts of Iran are something that fascinates me, as it is a major part of the old Silk Road. Hence on our way from Shiraz to Isfahan, we made a stop in Yazd to explore this desert city of Iran.
3 Main deserts of Iran
There are many different deserts and oases between Shiraz and Tehran. Personally, I think the best way to plan your trip is to see how much time you have in the country, as some of them can be quite off the beaten track.
The Maranjab Desert
The Maranjab Desert is probably one of the most famous deserts in Iran. One of the unique selling points of this desert is that it has a large salt flat nearby. It is about 100KM from the holy city of Oam and 50KM from the desert oasis of Kashan. However, we didn’t end of choosing this desert because we have seen many salt lakes in Australia and wanted to see something different with our limited time in Iran.
I have always wanted to visit a pigeon tower in Iran and there is one called Ghoortan Dovecote in Varzaneh. However, you can also find a pigeon tower in Isfahan (Mardavij Pigeon Tower). As we have already camped overnight in the Sahara Desert before, that’s why we didn’t opt for Varzaneh Desert and use the time to explore elsewhere in Isfahan instead.
History of Yazd
The city of Yazd has been the centre of Zoroastrianism since the 3rd century. After the Arab conquest of Iran, Yazd was allowed to keep its religion by paying a levy to them. Consequently, many Zoroastrians migrated to Yazd from the neighbouring provinces, hence there’s still a sizable Zoroastrians population here today.
Tower of Silence（Dakhme）
One of the main reasons why I wanted to visit Yazd is to see the “Tower of Silence” or “Dakhme”. It is a tower that was used by Zoroastrians for sky burial up till the 1970s. Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religion in the world. It is one of the most influential religions in the Middle East & West Asia before Islam.
Visiting The Tower of Silence
There are two Tower of Silences in the area. We only went to one as we were running out of time. Apparently, the tower itself didn’t have proper steps or doors before. All of these were carved out for visitors. It was said the method for sky burial has been around for more than 3000 years.
The dead bodies would be carried to the inside of the tower and be placed in the open air for vultures to eat them! The bones will then be thrown into the pit, then the acid would be poured on them so the body can be dissolved in the rain.
Skyline of Yazd & Windcatcher
A wind tower or windcatcher is a traditional Iranian architecture that’s used to create natural ventilation in the buildings. Often combined with ab anbars (the traditional water reservoirs), allowing water to be stored at near-freezing temperatures during summer months by using the evaporative cooling effects.
Masjid-e Jame (Friday Mosque)
Masjid-e Jame has the highest minarets in the country (52M high). It was built on top of an old Zoroastrian temple back in the 14th century. It has beautiful Persian mosaic tiles both inside and outside. Moreover, the mosque lights up at night which gives it a magical feel.
Yazd Water Museum
One thing I regretted not do in Yazd is to visit the water museum. Located inside a mansion, it has a wealth of information on the local Canat water distribution system. We skipped it because we read on TripAdvisor that there are not many English explanations. However, we met this couple at the Dakhme who was more than happy to translate. Unfortunately, we were too tired after the excursion, so didn’t end up going.
Amir Chakhmaq Complex
Built-in the 15th century, the Amir Chakhmaq Complex is best viewed at night. It has a mosque, a caravanserai, a bathhouse, a cold water well and a confectionery.
Saheb Al-Zaman Zurkhaneh
If come at the right time, this probably would be one of the most interesting things you would see in Iran. This ab anbar (water reservoir) was built in the 16th century and is now a local gym for a UNESCO sport called Zurkhaneh. The men here exercise with huge wooden clubs to build muscles. Tourists can pay a fee to watch people exercise. Unfortunately, we came at the wrong time, so no one was there.
As Booking.com is not available in Iran, we have to book through Hostelworld.com. We stayed in Delkhash Guesthouse, which has a score of 9.9/10! It is located inside the old town with a beautiful courtyard.
Transportation in Yazd：
- If you have an Iranian sim card, then you can use the local rideshare APP- SNAPP.
- The VIP bus from Shiraz to Yazd was 510,000 rial per person.
- The VIP bus from Yazd to Isfahan was 340,000 rial per person or 310,000 rials for the normal bus.
- The taxi fare from Yazd bus station to the old town was 150,000 rial when using SNAPP.