Yazd is the capital of Yazd Province in the middle of Iran. The historical city of Yazd is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd has unique Persian architecture. It is nicknamed the “City of Windcatchers” from its many examples. It is also very well known for its Zoroastrian fire temples, ab-anbars (cisterns), qanats (underground channels), yakhchals (ice houses), Persian handicrafts, handwoven cloth (Persian termeh), silk weaving, Persian cotton candy, and its famous confectioneries.
The area encompassing Yazd first started to gain prominence in Late antiquity, namely under the Sasanians. Under Yazdegerd I (r. 399–420), a mint was established in Yazd, which demonstrates its increasing importance. Yazd is believed to be refounded by “Yazdegerd, son of Bahram”, i.e. Yazdegerd II (r. 438–457). The word Yazd means God.[ After the Arab conquest of Iran, many Zoroastrians migrated to Yazd from neighbouring provinces. By paying a levy, Yazd was allowed to remain Zoroastrian even after its conquest, and Islam only gradually became the dominant religion in the city.
Because of its remote desert location and the difficulty of access, Yazd 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 Persian Empire during the Mongol invasion. In 1272 it was visited by Marco Polo, who remarked on the city’s fine silk-weaving industry. In the book The Travels of Marco Polo, he described Yazd in the following way:
“It is a good and noble city and has a great amount of trade. They weave their quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of. When you leave this city to travel further, you ride for seven days over great plains, finding a harbour to receive you at three places only. There are many fine kinds of wood producing dates upon the way, such as one can easily ride through; and in them, there is a great sport to be had in hunting and hawking, there being partridges and quails and abundance of other game, so that the merchants who pass that way have plenty of diversions. There are also wild asses, handsome creatures. At the end of those seven marches over the plain, you come to a fine kingdom which is called Kerman.”
Yazd briefly served as the capital of the Muzaffarid Dynasty in the fourteenth century and was unsuccessfully besieged 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.
Under the rule of the Safavid (16th century), some people migrated from Yazd and settled in an area that is today on the Iran-Afghanistan border. The settlement, which was named Yazdi, was located in what is now Farah City in the province of the same name in Afghanistan. Even today, people from this area speak with an accent very similar to that of the people of Yazd.