Esfahan and Yazd

This post is part of series documenting travel in Myanmar, Cuba and Iran: Introduction.

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Lotfollah Mosque, Esfahan

Esfahan

August 2015. Esfahan feels nice relief after crowded hot Tehran. Old bridges over the river Zayandehrud are charming, wish there was any water though. Cool evening winds after exhausting day are blowing over Naghsh-e Jahan Square, great example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. Families are outing, kids playing and adults talking, relaxing.

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Ceiling of Lotfollah Mosque. Mosque was used by the court that had secret access to it from Ali Qapu Palace across the square.

Square was center of imperial capital for public appearances and polo matches. Royal palace and court, important mosques and bazaar also surrounding it. Wikipedia: [city] regained its important position during the Safavid period (1501–1736). The city’s golden age began in 1598 when the Safavid ruler Shah Abbas I (reigned 1588–1629) made it his capital and rebuilt it into one of the largest and most beautiful cities of the 17th century.

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Music room of palace, walls made for acoustics

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Esfahan bazaar

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Persian spices in Esfahan bazaar

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Singing at Khaju Bridge.
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Yazd

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Ancient Yazd, town at edge of Dasht-e Kavir desert. Architecture of Yazd old town is a maze of mud houses and curvy corridors. From its outer appearance, Jame Mosque is perhaps most beautiful mosque I’ve seen. Minarets are higher than ones in Esfahan. One reason is that they were used as beacons in old times. Where landscape didn’t permit this function, minarets didn’t need to be so high.

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Jame Mosque, or Friday Mosque of Yazd. Every Iranian city has its Jame, the main mosque.

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Wind towers, an ancient aircon system, are pronounced feature of Yazd skyline.

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Different door knockers for men and women. From the sound, it was possible to tell who was at the door, and decide who could go open it.

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Day trip to Chak Chak, outside Yazd center. Road winding through arid deserts, surrounded by mountains further away. No traffic, heat is the norm, emitting from ground so its not possible to see outer reach of horizon. Eyes of imagination see caravans slowly progressing these infinite plains. Everybody in car are silent, looking mesmerised into distance.

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Chak Chak, drip drip. Name comes from slowly dripping fountain inside the cave temple, at the edge of mountain. This is Zoroastrian shrine, one of holiest sites of the religion. Its origins are in troublesome times when Islam had started to spread to Persia, 640AD. Zoroastrians not being Muslims had to flee these remote refuges, at the times of persecutions.

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Chak Chak
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Zoroastrian fire temple in Yazd downtown.
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In many ways, Yazd old center reminds me Jaisalmer in Rajastan, other side of deserts that span over the lands of Iran, Pakistan and India. Here’s a link to a trip there few years ago.

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