Fahadan: The Soul and Spirit of Oriental Adobe Neighborhoods
Have you ever watched the Disney’s “Aladdin” or played the video-game “Prince of Persia”? If so, didn’t you dream of jumping roofs along with your brave heroes to save the beautiful princess from evil hands? Yes!? So, join us to go and visit Fahadan in the city of Yazd, a neighborhood which could be the location of one these cartoons and at least partially realize your dream.
Fahadan, the largest adobe neighborhood in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2017, is located in the heart of Yazd city. Travelers reviewing their memories from this historical neighborhood would always tell you of its long and high adobe walls, sābāts (roofed passageways), magnificent houses with marvelous wind-catchers, traditional workshops producing handicrafts and textiles, amazing mosques, religious schools and finely-decorated shrines. However, what is most striking for all of these visitors is the warm and hospitable attitude of the people living in this old neighborhood; inhabitants whose patience, hard work and perseverance has kept this old neighborhood alive, making it one of the most appealing tourist attractions in Iran.
Well, if you would like to know more about this awe-inspiring neighborhood, please continue reading our article.
Some Points You Need to Know about the Fahadan Neighborhood
Well, as the architectural style of Fahadan neighborhood reveals, it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of Yazd. Based on historical evidence, this neighborhood was the residence of influential Yazdi people, thus providing us with one of the meanings of Fahadan: “Wise Men.” Also, signifying “cheetah,” it is believed that certain people in this neighborhood were in the peculiar business of training cheetahs.
The prominence of Fahadan as the beating heart of Yazd is also evident in being surrounded by significant monuments such as Bazaar-e No and Vaght-o-Sa’at Square on its southern side and Kooshk-e No and Shah Abolqasem Tomb on its western wing.
More importantly, Fahadan itself is spotted with more than 25 historical, architectural and cultural attractions, adding to its splendor and significance. In what follows, you will get acquainted with some of these gems you should not miss visiting while exploring Fahadan neighborhood.
Must-See Sights in Fahadan Neighborhood
Jameh Mosque of Yazd (the Grand Congregational Mosque of Yazd)
Just at the entrance of the Fahadan Neighborhood, there is located the Jameh Mosque of Yazd whose eye-catching beauty will no doubt mesmerize. It is believed that the mosque is founded on the ruins of a Zoroastrian fire temple, stretching its history back to pre-Islamic times.
However, what would grab your attention at first glance are the mosque’s two soaring minarets, allegedly the tallest minarets belonging to a mosque in Iran, each one 52 meters in height.
Inside, the dome chamber and its fantastic faience work make the most attractive part of the mosque. Usually, visitors spend a good deal of time taking photos while framed by these works of art to upload on their social media.
Another interesting part of the mosque is the water-cistern and its long flight of stairs, putting your fitness on trial to reach water.
Alexander’s Prison or Ziyaiyeh School
Walking through the winding alleys of Fahadan neighborhood will eventually get you to a square where some of the oldest buildings in Yazd impatiently await your visit. One of these buildings, whose history has been mixed with myth, is the Alexander Prison or Ziāiyeh School.
According to legend, having conquered the land of Persians, Alexander made up his mind to build a prison in which to keep the defeated prisoners of war. Considering different options, nowhere suited his plan better than Yazd, an arid, parched land whose geographic location made it an inaccessible land. And so Alexander’s Prison came into being.
However, it seems that the appearance of the name “Alexander’s Prison” in the historical chronicles of the Safavid period is inspired by Hafez’s famous couplet:
“I am upset over the horrors of Alexander’s Prison
Fading away to Solomon’s Kingdom”
In which the poet compares Yazd to Alexander’s Prison and Shiraz, his hometown, to Solomon’s Kingdom.
As a matter of fact, an examination of historical sources reveals that this monument was constructed as a school under the patronage of Mowlana Zia al-Din in the year 1234. Soaring high toward the sky, the adobe dome of Ziaiyeh school, decorated with splendid stucco work and water-color paintings, represents one the best pieces of architecture from the Mongol period in Iran. In addition to its dome and dome chamber, the school includes three porches, several different rooms and an underground water-cistern whose dark and scary ambience makes it look like a dungeon.
Today, the school hosts various handicraft workshops and there you can find marvelous souvenirs for your loved ones not having the opportunity to visit Iran.
The Tomb of Twelve Imams
The Tomb of Twelve Imams is one of the oldest monuments in Fahadan, built in the 11th century. The tomb has a simple quadruple plan with a brick dome. According to Arthur Upham Pope, the significance of the building lies in solving the problem of placing a semi-circular dome on a quadrilateral foundation. In the previous buildings, the area of transference was not strong enough to bear the downward pressure of a heavy dome, but in the Tomb of Twelve Imams this engineering problem is overcome in the best way possible, resulting in the construction of a perfect dome on a quadruple base.
The function of the monument is actually a bit vague. Some people believe that it is the burial place of a scared person, others are of the opinion that the building was used as a Khaneqah, or a gathering place for mystics and dervishes.
Lariha House is one of the most beautiful mansions in Fahadan, located in the vicinity of Alexander’s Prison and Tomb of Twelve Imams. This Qajarid (19th century) mansion was actually a complex of six houses, built by Haj Mohammad Lāri, a rich, powerful businessman from Shiraz city who came to Yazd for trade purposes.
Following the general plan of desertic houses, Lariha House boasts amazing sash windows, splendid mirror works and eye-catching paintings. The highlight of the house is its “Otagh-e Aroosi” or “Bridal Room,” decorated with European-style paintings of women.
In addition to enjoying the artistic beauties of the mansion, you will also get acquainted with traditional ways of marriage in Iran as the mansion also functions as a museum, putting on display the marriage documents of long gone couples who tied the knot years and years ago.
All in all, wandering through the winding paths of Fahadan neighborhood, visiting its historical monuments, spending some time in its traditional workshops and drinking a cup of coffee in one of its cozy coffeeshops makes one of the most pleasant days during your adventures in Iran. I am sure you would never forget your delightful moments in Fahadan Neighborhood.