I am a huge fan of mud-brick cities. I find them absolutely fantastic! I just love walking along narrow streets, surrounded by all those brown, untreated walls. I already loved Bukhara in Uzbekistan and I found Yazd, with its unique architecture, even more fascinating. I especially admired the famous badgirs (wind catchers in English), skyrocketing constructions directing the cool air-drafts from the outside into the buildings below. They made the city look even more amazing. But the best thing about Yazd were the inhabitants. After our bad experiences in Shiraz everything went back to normal, once again people were inviting us for tea, asking how we liked Iran and if there was anything they could help us with. Traveling felt great again.
Moreover, we have managed to retain our high accommodation standards by checking in at the Silk Road Hotel, one of the nicest places we have been to so far. And we had a chance to find out how it feels like to sleep in a real mud-brick house. It was great! And the hotel restaurant served some of the best Iranian dishes we have tried so far, including my new personal favorite, the tomato-egg plant stew. Egg plant never really was my favorite ingredient, at least not until we came to Iran. Here we discovered how many awesome dishes can be made with this one simple vegetable, so that I started to wonder, how we could have ever cooked without it. But I guess it will not be the only change in our kitchen habits after this journey. But no worries, our cooking will remain mutton-free. For sure! I believe we had enough of mutton meat for the rest of our lives.
We're are both not really museum freaks, but we definitely didn't want to miss the water museum in Yazd. The building itself was one of the nicest we have seen and the exhibition hit the top score of our entire journey (though I have to admit the competition wasn't really overwhelming). It gave us the chance to understand and admire the complicated underground water systems still existing in many Iranian cities, being used not only as a water supply, but also as food storage and chill out location during the hot summer. The idea was simple, the goal was to transport water from the mountains to the cities below through a network of tunnels. However building such a system and directing water effectively, without complicated measurements systems and high-tech tools is a bit more complicated. Nevertheless, the method exists for over 2000 years now and some cities still rely on it, so I guess it has to work somehow.
We had a chance to check it in practice in the ancient city of Kharanaq, which we decided to visit a day after. Once again we felt like real explorers, visiting mosques with a torchlight and climbing shaking minarets without stairs (and they are shaking, indeed!). And we were able to walk on the roofs too, though we were careful about it after we heard, that one of them broke under some tourists recently. But the views were worth the risk!
There is one more thing making Yazd a special place to visit, it is a center of Zoroastrian culture. Though little known, it is one of the oldest religions and you may meet a lot of its believers while traveling through Iran. And in this specific region you may also see some examples of their culture and architecture. We have decided to visit the towers of silence, as well as Chak-Chak, the Zoroastrian holy site. And thanks to the nice people we have met on our way, we managed to learn a bit more about the traditions, beliefs and their everyday life as a minority in the Islamic Republic. As for the last one, it does not really seem too easy. Hardly any of them goes around boasting about their religion, even if they are officially free to practice it. But they still have to follow common rules and laws, which have hardly anything to do with their own beliefs. The emotional life can get complicated too. It is unthinkable for an Muslim to abandon his or her religion or to marry a person of a different faith. But living together without marriage in Iran can get you in a lot of trouble, too. Quite a few couples are currently in this no-win situation, leaving them few options, but to emigrate and legalize the relationship in some other country, knowing that they may not be able to come back home ever again...