Yazd Province (Persian: استان یزد, Ostān-e Yazd ) is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the centre of the country, and its administrative center is the city of Yazd.
The province has an area of 131,575 km², and according to the most recent divisions of the country, is divided into ten counties: Abarkuh County, Ardakan County, Bafq County, Behabad County, Khatam County, Mehriz County, Meybod County, Saduq County, Taft County, and Yazd County. According to the 1996 census, Yazd province had a population of about 750,769, of which 75.1% were urban residents while 24.9% resided in rural areas. At the 2006 census, its population (including Tabas County, which was transferred to South Khorasan Province) was 958,323, in 258,691 families; excluding Tabas County, its population (as of 2006) was 895,276, in 241,846 families.
The city of Yazd is the economic and administrative capital of the province and therefore the most heavily populated.
Yazd province with the area of 131,551 km2 (50,792 sq mi) is situated at an oasis where the Dasht-e Kavir desert and the Dasht-e Lut desert meet. The city itself is sometimes called "the bride of the Kavir" because of its location, in a valley between Shir Kuh, the tallest mountain in the region at 4,075 m (13,369 ft) above sea level, and Kharaneq. The city proper is located at 1,203 m (3,947 ft) above sea-level, and covers 16,000 km2 (6,200 sq mi).
Yazd or Yezd is the capital of Yazd province, one of the most ancient and historic cities in Iran and a centre of Zoroastrian culture. The city is located some 175 miles southeast of Isfahan, at 31.92° North, 54.37° East. In 2005 it had an estimated population of 433,836 people. In 2006 it had an estimated population of 505,037. . Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd is an architecturally unique city. It is also known in Iran for the high quality handicrafts, especially silk weaving, and its sweets shops
The city has a 3000 year long history, dating back to the time of the Median empire, when it was known as Ysatis (or Issatis). The present city name, however, may have been derived from Yazdegerd I, a Sassanid ruler. The city was definitely a Zoroastrian centre during Sassanid times. After the Islamic conquest of Persia, many Zoroastrians fled to Yazd from neighbouring provinces. The city remained Zoroastrian even after the conquest by paying a levy, and only gradually did Islam come to be the dominant religion in the city
Because of its remote desert location and the difficulty of approach, Yazd had remained largely immune to large battles and the destruction and ravages of war. For instance, it was a haven for those fleeing from destruction in other parts of Persia during the invasion of Genghis Khan. It was visited by Marco Polo in 1272 who remarked on the city's fine silk weaving industry. It briefly served as the capital of the Muzaffarid Dynasty in the 14th century, and was sieged unsuccessfully in 1350–1351 by the Injuids under Shaikh Abu Ishaq. The Friday (or Congregation) Mosque, arguably the city's greatest architectural landmark, as well as other important buildings date to this period. During the Qajar dynasty (18th Century AD) it was ruled by the Bakhtiari Khans.
The population of Yazd is predominantly Persian, most of whom are Shi'a Muslims. There are also small Zoroastrian communities. The city of Yazd’s first mention in historic records predate it back to around 3000 years B.C. when it was related to by the name of Ysatis (also Υσάτης in ancient greek), and was then part of the domain of Medes, an ancient empire of Iran. Excavations of Gharbal Biz remaining from the Achaemenid period are another example of the antiquity of Yazd.
Zoroastrians have traditionally been populous in Yazd. Even now, roughly ten percent of the town's population according to some estimates adhere to this ancient religion, and though their Atashkadeh (Fire Temple) was turned into a mosque after the Islamic Conquest of Persia, a dignified new fire temple was inaugurated thirteen hundred years later.
History and historical attractions
In the course of history due to its distance from important capitals and its harsh natural surrounding, Yazd remained immune to major troops' movements and destruction from wars, therefore it kept many of its traditions, city forms and architecture until recent times.
Yazd hails from an ancient history. As an example, Tehran University and Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization have teamed up with France's CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) to carry out archeological studies in Yazd province as part of a project aiming at preparing archeological plans of the area from the Mesolithic era.
During the invasion of Genghis Khan in the early 13th century, Yazd became a safehaven and home for many artists, intellectuals, and scientists fleeing their war ravaged cities across Persia.
Yazd was visited by Marco Polo in 1272 A.D, who described it as a good and noble city and remarked its silk production industry. Isolated from any approach by a huge tract of monotonous desert, the vibrancy of Yazd often comes as a surprise. The 800 year old Masjed-i Jame' mosque of Yazd has one of the tallest minarets among Persian mosques.
Architecture of Yazd
Although more often described as the entrance to a now non-existent bazaar, the chief function of this building known as a Tekyeh, and the square before it, was to host the Ta'ziyeh, a cycle of passion plays commemorating the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, which takes place once a year during the mourning month of Moharram. The site dates from the fifteenth century amid the efforts of its eponymous builder, Amir Jalal Al-Din Chakhmagh, governor of Yazd.
For a brief period, Yazd was the capital of Atabakan and Mozaffarid dynasties. During the Qajar Dynasty (18th Century A.D.) it was ruled by the Bakhtiari Khans.
Amidst the immense surrounding desert, Yazd retains elements of its old religion, traditions, and architecture, which is recognized by UNESCO for its architectural heritage . In 2004, the Majles allocated funds to help restore historical sites in Yazd in order to nominate Yazd as a Cultural Heritage city by UNESCO.
The word Yazd means feast and worship. The city of Yazd has resisted the modern urbanization changes and has so far maintained its traditional structure. The geographical features of this region have prompted residents to develop special architectural styles. For this reason, in the older part of the city most houses are built of adobe and have domed roofs (gonbad). These materials serve as an excellent insulation preventing heat from passing through.
The existence of special ventilation structures, called Badgirs is a distinctive feature of the architecture of this city (A Badgir is a high structure on the roof under which, in the interior of the building, there is a small pool).
The Jame Mosque (Friday Mosque) of Yazd crowned by a pair of minarets, the highest in Persia, the portal's facade is decorated from top to bottom in dazzling tile work, predominantly blue in colour.
The province of Yazd has one of the driest climates in Iran due to its location east of the Zagros mountains, making much of Yazd subject to the rain shadow effect. Low precipitation and a high rate of evaporation in summer months due to high summer temperatures are among the factors making much of this province one of the driest regions in Iran. The only moderating climatic factor is Yazd's high terrain elevation. Shir Kuh, located in Yazd, rises to 4000 m.