Rooftops — the views over Yazd’s old city

From the narrow alleys to amazing vistas over Yazd

As I wrote earlier, Yazd is a fantastic place to hang around for a while. We, my friend and I, were lucky to meet some great people, and I remember that we were talking a lot about the sort of prejudice we had towards what life would be like in Iran before travelling there. Needless to say that we were both reading the newspapers and tried to understand the stories from both sides so of course, we were both aware of the political discussions and tensions between Iran and the West.

But at the same time, shortly after we felt that the dialogues were going somewhere and the political relations between Iran and other countries seemed to improve, we were very motivated to go. We had both been looking forward to this adventure for some time and now seemed like a good time. The thing, though, is that when I arrived in Iran, politics did not play a role at all — I was simply genuinely interested in the people, and I dare say that I have met some of the friendliest and gentlest Iranians.

One of the places I liked a lot was Yazd — it had this sort of vibe you hope to encounter. The buzz you typically hear from fellow explorers as guide books do not seem to able to put this feeling into words. Apparently, this town is a bit more conservative than our previous stop, the capital Tehran, but since we did not spend a lot of time in the biggest city in Iran, it is hard to say if this is noticeable.

I guess the outskirts of Yazd are like every other town; not the most impressive, but the old city is fantastic. The old town looks quiet and tranquil, but that is deceptive. In reality, it is full of life and potential. Its beauty remains concealed and is not open for everyone to see. But the Iranians are very hospitable, and they may invite you to be their guest for tea or even a dinner. But in case you are not in luck, perhaps because you simply do not have the luxury to hang around for a few days, you can still enjoy Yazd’s beauty from another perspective; its rooftops.

We kept coming back to the place on the photo’s, the Art House. At times it was very calm and peaceful, you would only hear the turtledoves circling above you, but at other days the place was full of life and packed with joyful young Iranians spending time together with music, tea and, of course, sweets.

Sometimes our guide Mohammed would join us, and we talked for hours about life in Iran while drinking tea and enjoying the Persian kitchen (the fesenjan, chicken cooked with walnuts and pomegranate, was my favourite).

The views overlooking the city and its precious monuments were marvellous — not to mention the mountainous desert around town. The place is well known for its wind-towers and qanāts, lengthy canals providing fresh water from sources sometimes over 50 km away. The windtowers and qanāts provided cooling aids in the blistering hot summers.

The sunsets were quite an experience. We were in Iran in early spring, a time when the daytime temperatures hover around 30 Celcius. In the late afternoon, the cold, bright light changed into a warm -goldish- soft light while the skies turned into pink and purple hues.

As soon as the sun had disappeared behind the desert mountains, floodlights switched on to lit the most notable buildings. Most of these lights were white or orange, but the famous ‘blue’ Jāmeh Mosque is covered by blue light. Not exactly my taste — I am not a big fan of all these coloured LED lights to highlight whatever, but in a way, it worked rather well, and the sight was quite a scene. Maybe because there was barely any ‘light polution’ and only a few buildings stood out from the rest of town, that seemingly came alive as soon as the sun has set.

Okay, so the only place you will need to remember is the Art House. It is a small place where you can buy some art from local artists (beware, I bought a cool print that turned from black to purple in three months, haha 😍, I guess the ink quality suffers under the ban too) and grab a fresh pomegranate juice or a simple dish. The are plenty of alternatives, though — many hotels, restaurants or even carpet shops provide access to their top floor. Just ask around.