Yazd, Iran - a Desert Oasis of Ancient Heritage
Yazd (pronounced /jęzd/) is the capital of Yazd province in Iran, and a centre of Zoroastrian culture. The city is located some 175 miles southeast of Isfahan. It's population was 500,000 in 2006. Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality of its handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its sweet shops.
Yazd with the area of 131,551km² is situated at an oasis where the Dasht-e Kavir desert and the Dasht-e Lut desert meet, the city is sometimes called The bride of the Kavir because of its location, in a valley between Shir Kuh, the tallest mountain in the region at 4075 m. above sea level, and Kharaneq. The city itself is located at 1203 m. above sea-level, and covers 16,000 km².
Yazd has some of the finest examples of traditional desert Persian residential architecture. Because of its climate, it has one of the largest networks of qanats in the world, and Yazdi qanat makers are considered the most skilled in Iran. To deal with the extremely hot summers, many old buildings in Yazd have magnificent windcatchers, and large underground areas. The city is also home to prime examples of yakhchals, the latter of which were used to store ice retrieved from glaciers in the nearby mountains. Yazd is also one of the largest cities built almost entirely out of adobe.
Yazd's heritage as a centre of Zoroastrianism is also important. There is a Tower of Silence on the outskirts, and the city itself has a Fire Temple, which holds a fire that has been kept alight continuously since 470 AD. Presently, Zoroastrians make up a significant minority of the population, around 20 - 40,000 or 5 to 10%.
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