The historical vibrations of Persia really begin to hit home in the central desert towns of Iran, especially in the large city of Yazd — once a byway on the merchant routes connecting the Orient with the seas and lands of the Occident. Crumbling adobe walls and windcatchers in the old town center of Yazd challenge engineers and architects together to restore what was once gloriously designed residences manufactured from simple materials, like wood, mud and straw and gravel. Street workers still use twig- reinforced brooms to keep the dusty narrow alleys meticulously clear of rubbish and human waste.
The older modest homes of the lower classes in Yazd today form a distinctively walled maze of unique residences of businesses, clustered near highly prized and praised gardens and mansions that offer comforting shade to locals and visitors. Most Iranians take afternoon naps interrupted by cups of tea or coffee or sweet nourishments. It is not unusual to linger under trees bent under the burden of fruiting pomegranates.
Dolat Abad garden has the tallest windcatcher tower of Yazd city, overseeing an adult playground that resembles the better known Fin Garden in Kashan. I was intrigued by a drone that suddenly arose like a monster bee from nearby bushes and which I followed as it approached the park’s central building. A wedding photoshoot was underway, revealing an extraordinarily attractive couple dressed as though getting wed in New York’s central park. There was no hijab or head shawl here and the pair to be wed surely was flouting considerable wealth in this lush place surrounded by romantic floral and sensual flavors in the air, not to mention the sophisticated flying object with onboard camera hovering and zooming over the landscape.
Inside the building, I am again accosted by color and patterns in an atrium and side rooms that offer a perfect backdrop for posing bridesmaids, family and friends who believe themselves worthy of contesting or enhancing the beauty that is already there.
After Yazd, I travel further south and west toward the founding historical core of Iran and the city of Shiraz. The mountains again loom, preceded by one especially imposing but relatively unadorned lump of rock that purportedly resembles a lion (remember, that lion again emerges from the sands). I thought the mound projecting from the earth looked more like an eagle. Anyway, Shirkuh (or “lion”) Mountain is a gateway to various small villages and ultimately to Abarqu, a place most famous for a cypress tree that is believed to be more than 4,000 years old.
Equally fascinating is the sprawling Agazadeh Mansion, in Abarku, notably a residence selected in all of Iran as the model for a facsimile image on the 20,000 rial currency issued by the nation’s central bank. The windcatcher in this mansion built during the Qajar Dynasty is regarded as one of the finest examples of windcatchers in the world. The main windcatcher is 18 meters high with 19 air-adjusting vents internally connected to the second windcatcher. This windcatcher can do the air-adjustment even if there is no wind blowing. Unlike most windcatchers, this one is a two-story structure.
The interior of the main chamber is an amazing structure in its own right, displaying a honeycomb-like ceiling that is nearly hypnotic as well as a practical. The ceiling funnels light into the building during all hours of the day due to the octagonal window array that encircles the cupola.
To be continued.... (the old tree can wait another week).