October 14, 2014

Yazd, The Desert City That Caught The Wind - The First Air-Conditioners?


Yazd, the metropolis in Iran that grew in the middle of the desert, is a very special place in an incredibly interesting and welcoming country. Centuries of improvements and adaptation to survive extreme climatic conditions, led the builders of the city to provide shapes and structures that look, to the eyes of an alien like me, out of this world.

Tall walls to project more shadow in narrow alleys, windows and apertures placed strategically to avoid the sun, and the fascinating windcatchers or Bagdirs standing above the roofs and domes in the horizon.

Windcatchers are nothing less than natural air conditioning without plugs or the use of mechanical devices, apparently invented by the old Persians several millennia ago. These imposing air cooling systems are especially big and varied in Yazd:
"A Windcatcher is an engineering architectural masterpiece to deal with the unbearable heat of the central Iranian plateau." (Mehdi Pirhayati, Azad University.)
These refrigerating devices have an specific size, orientation and number of apertures depending on the side from the wind is blowing at that different locations where are built.
Try to find a place to go up to the top of a roof to enjoy a skyline of windcathers, minarets and cupolas in all its glory.
Image by Ninara
According to Wikipedia, "The construction of a windcatcher depends on the direction of airflow at that specific location: if the wind tends to blow from only one side, it is built with only one downwind opening."

There is a dome of a traditional water reservoir (called Ab anbar), that can store water at near freezing temperatures during summer months. Windcatchers also provide ventilation to prevent water from rotting. Image by Terry Feuerborn
To access the water, people had to go down a long staircase that could be around 20 meters deep.
Also you can visit a nice collection of mosques, a Zoroastrian Temple of Fire and the intriguing Tower of silence, where the dead were left to be picked clean by the vultures!
Yazd is located between two other interesting destinations, Isfahan and Kerman. Buses are quite cheap and take around 3-4 hours. To cover the 625 kilometres (388 miles) by bus from the capital Tehran, it takes about 6 hours.

Also there are trains connecting Yazd with Teheran, Bandar Abbas and Mashhad.

From Yazd airport you can also fly to these three cities.
Captions used by Ra Moon

More information and great pictures at Atlas of Wonders

From You Tube:
The history of the town dates back to more than 2,500 years ago. Today in this town side by side with Moslems a few tens of thousands of Zoroastrians are living.
Note: The music is "Conquest of Paradise" by Vangelis.