I must admit in the first few days Iran didn’t really blow me away. It was fine, I enjoyed all the places I’ve visited as well as the incredible hospitality that I’ve experienced but I was still kind of missing something. I couldn’t really tell what, maybe my expectation were too high or maybe I prepared myself way too well for this trip. I knew that at the beginning Iran was just normal, it didn’t surprise me in any way. But then I went to Yazd, and it was love at (almost) first sight!
After the stressful beginning of the trip, with uncertain visa situation, uncertain accommodation in Shiraz and uncertain accommodation in Yazd, I needed some relaxing time more than ever. And I found it in Yazd. I listened to Lonely Planet’s advice (the guide book that probably every traveler to Iran uses) and tried to book a place in the Silk Road Hotel. Sadly all the private rooms were already taken and they could only offer me a place in the dorm but this couldn’t be reserved, it’s first come first served basis. So as soon as I arrived to Yazd (with few other travelers in my bus) I almost run to the taxi and then stormed into the hotel to see if they have a place for me. Luckily they did! The dormitory was in the dark basement, the toilet and bathroom was on the other side of the hotel (and so when I took a shower I had to walk in my pajama, manteau and a headscarf through the common area) and I was the only girl staying there in the very international company (talking about Iranian morality and standards…) But the price was unbeatable – 6$ / 5€ / 20zł for a night, including big breakfast and wifi. Also the place was just the prettiest and I simply wanted to stay there. The hotel was located in the traditional house, in the heart of old Yazd, few steps away from the major attractions. From the outside it looks like nothing really special, just a random structure with a small door but once you stepped inside you were transformed into a different world. An open air patio with a pond in the middle, surrounded by beds with cushions. I couldn’t ask for a better place to relax! When I travel I never spend so much time in the hotel as I did in Yazd but lying there, with the book in my hand and looking to the stars was just too perfect to skip it! At that time I didn’t know that during my trip to Iran I will stay in an even better place than Silk Road Hotel in Yazd! Anyway, to make everything even better there was also food served all day long in the hotel (for a really good price) as well as sold bus/train tickets to further destinations and organized tours. Basically everything a tourist might need could be solved in the hotel! In a very challenging place like Iran it was life saving that finally I wouldn’t need to worry about everything! The downside – the hotel was occupied by tourists (obviously), even if they didn’t stay there they still came for dinner. But that’s what you get after following Lonely Planet recommendations.
I started my time in Yazd, Iran in an unusual way. Since I was slowly running out of money I had to find an exchange point and it was located fairly far away from the hotel, a solid half an hour walk at least. But that was fine, I like exploring random areas and see how the real face of the city looks like. It was late afternoon, the bazaar I was passing by was slowly shutting, people were quickly bustling around, it was just a typical market atmosphere I knew from other Middle East countries, very similar to what I’ve experienced in Shiraz the previous days. Luckily for me the exchange money point was directly opposite Atashkades, the Zoroastrian fire temple. It is believed that the fire burning inside has been there nonstop since the year 470. The temple was such a nice site, small yet interesting, hidden behind the wall from the busy street. When entering the place I had no idea about Zoroastrianism so I really enjoyed learning more about the religion and seeing people getting excited about the fire. I can’t say Atashkades was the highlight of Yazd but if you happen to be around (most likely to exchange money) it’s worth to stop by!
Beautiful Amir Chakhmaq Complex
On my way back to the hotel and the old town I took a different route and saw a raw face of Yazd. I passed the area with collapsing, abandoned houses, surely remembering the great past of Yazd. On some of them I even spotted Faravahar – the Zoroastrian sign. Soon I found myself in front of Amir Chakhmaq Complex, one of the most beautiful places in the city. It consists of a mosque, a caravanserai, a tekyeh, a bathhouse, a well and a confectionery. The whole structure comes from the 15th century. Since it’s located not in the old town itself it seems like it’s mostly popular among locals who gather on the square to have picnics and celebrate the time together. It was a lovely view to see all these people just enjoying each other’s company over food, that was a view that we don’t see much of in the Western world. The complex really is a stunning site, it is often showed on the pictures promoting Iran and it really is there for a reason!
One of the most beautiful mosques in Iran
The next day was spent discovering the old part of Jazd. Just few steps away from the hotel I had Masjid-e Jame, one of the greatest mosques you can see in Iran! It is known especially for its minarets – the highest one in the country. But the building is pretty spectacular inside as well, the mosaics are breathtaking! When I visited the place, around noon, it was full of tour groups from Europe and few Iranian girls painting. But then I came back in the evening, around 9p.m. and I had a place just to myself! It was amazing, one of my best moments in Iran! I wandered around, focused on every single detail I could see and eventually spent good half an hour just sitting there, staring at the mosque and contemplating the silence. It was a pure magic!
Getting lost in the old part of Yazd
Lonely Planet has a walking tour around the old town in Yazd and I was willing to take it. But it took me maybe two minutes before I got lost in the maze of narrow street with arches. They were extremely picturesque and charming but still, most of them look just the same. I accidentally came across some nice corners (like a miniature of Amir Chakhmaq Complex), found my route from the guide, then lost it again. Wandering aimlessly around was a bliss, definitely the best thing to do in Yazd! And the funniest was – I hardly met any tourists, only few locals! I’m a huge fan of narrow lanes and Yazd lived up to my expectations, big time!
Rooftops of Yazd
In this labyrinth I somehow managed to find a hotel, recommended by LP, where it’s possible to stop by for a tea and go up to the roof to see the old town from above. And so I did! The place looked even prettier, with copulas of mosques, minarets and wind catchers. Especially those last ones are an interesting construction, created to cool off the house from the desert heat! I stood below one and I must say it really works!
Yazd – the best place in Iran
I was getting lost and found myself in the old town for few hours and even if I really enjoyed it I knew that the relaxing courtyard at the hotel is calling my name! So the rest of the day (with a break for the evening walk to the mosque) and the next morning, before catching my noon bus to the next destination Isfahan, was spent there. And I had the best time! Even if Yazd was the most touristy place I’ve visited in the country (especially among foreigners), it also turned out to be my highlight of Iran, the best place I’ve visited there! It could be the charming old town, the easy going vibe or just me finally finding serenity but the combination of all of these factors was just perfect for me. So if you plan your trip to Iran don’t miss Yazd, it’s amazing!