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IRAN | Monday, 15 March 2010 | Views [521] | Comments [1]

Far out in the desert, Yazd from above is a series of eggshell domes and the tall square section towers – badgirs – that in summer capture breezes and funnel them down to cool the houses of the rich. The poor make do these days with AC.

At street level it is different. High adobe walls, breaches for gas plumbing and doorways stepped down and set well back from the road. There are occasional arched overhangs that turn the narrow alleys into cool dark arcades, tiny shops hidden behind dusty glass selling fresh bread, yoghurt and sweets.

I do not remember it this way. I came last time looking also for a city in the desert but found only concrete fronted houses and the high twin minarets of the Jame Masjid.

What has changed in the meantime is that the government, sensing tourist potential and in partnership with UNESCO, has spent the last 15 years restoring what could be restored and rendering the rest in a thin layer of mud and chopped straw. So while many of the old buildings may be lost the new ones at least have soft edges and the cool dusty smell of the earth.

Sitting in the courtyard of a large and impressively restored mausoleum a local tourist – a Tehrani – complains it is all new, fake. I am not so sure. Is it better to salvage what can be preserved of the past? Or surrender to town planners who until not long ago still cut new roads through the old city, separated mosques from their attendant bazaars and built fountains where once were courtyarded houses.

In any case adobe has good thermal properties. In summer it can get to 50 degrees and those extra inches of mud – decorative, fake – might just make a difference to the temperature inside.



I agree with you; although I've only seen it in its semi-restored state, the concrete jungle you describe sounds terrible.

Last time we were there was in June 2009 and the heat was incredible, so anything that brings that down is great :)

  Liam Mar 15, 2010 8:20 AM

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