Yazd Celebrates Sixth Anniversary Of UNESCO Listing

On 8th July, 2023, hundreds of people including local officials, cultural heritage experts, artists, travellers and craftsmen, attended a ceremony held in Tehran, commemorating the sixth anniversary of Yazd’s listing on the UNESCO World Heritage list. A provincial city dependent on trade, Yazd remains one of the few strongholds of the Zoroastrian faith, with Zoroastrians making up a significant minority of the population – around 20,000 – 40,000 (or 5 to 10 per cent).

The historical core of Yazd is full of mud houses, bazaars, public bathhouses, water cisterns, Zoroastrian temples, centuries-old gardens, mosques and synagogues. The city enjoys the peaceful coexistence of three religions – Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.

Heritage experts believe that Yazd is a living testament to the intelligent use of the limited resources available in the desert for survival. Water is brought to the city through the ancient Qanats – an ingenious system of water supply invented by ancient Persians around 3,000 years ago, with some still in use today. The man-made underground qanat system is based on snow-fed streams that flow down the foothills of the surrounding mountains. Yazd’s earliest water supply is estimated to date from the Sassanid period (AD 224 to 651).

Each district of the city is built on a qanat and has a communal center. In addition, the use of earth in buildings includes walls and roofs through the construction of vaults and domes. Homes are built with underground courtyards that serve underground areas. Wind catchers, inner courtyards, and thick earth walls ensure a pleasant microclimate.

A top tourist destination, the Yazd Water Museum is a must-see for all. Housed in a restored manor house with a visible qanat running underneath, the museum offers visitors a fascinating insight into the hidden world of the qanats through a series of photographs, exhibitions, and architectural drawings. It represents almost 2000 years of unique irrigation structure that was in operation and also describes the drilling of mother wells and associated underground water networks that extended to the ancient city.

The city of Yazd, located in the deserts of Iran close to the Spice and Silk Roads, is a living testimony to intelligent use of limited available resources in the desert for survival,” the UN body wrote in its website, adding, “Partially covered alleyways together with streets, public squares and courtyards contribute to a pleasant urban quality. The city escaped the modernization trends that destroyed many traditional earthen cities.”

In July 2017, the historical core of Yazd was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yazd is consistently ranked as a delightful tourist destination with the city flaunting its adobe houses outfitted with innovative turrets (windcatchers), atmospheric narrow streets, and many Iranian monuments that make up the striking cityscape.

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