Yazd water reservoirs, a national heritage at risk

February 2, 2006
TEHRAN (CHN) – While Yazd Province has the largest number of water reservoirs in Iran, it is quite peculiar that only 5 of them are in a proper condition to be visited by tourists. The city of Yazd has 400 water reservoirs, 126 of which already categorized while 85 have been registered in Iran’s National Heritage List.

According to the public relations office of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Yazd province, from 85 registered water reservoirs in Yazd province, 36 are situated in the city of Yazd, 28 in Ardakan, 10 in Sadouq, 5 water reservoirs in Taft, 4 in Maybod, and 2 in Bafq.

However, according to Mohammad Reza Kargar, an expert from the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Yazd province, among all of these water reservoirs only 5 are in an appropriate condition.

“The main problem with water reservoirs is keeping them clean, which should ultimately be solved with the cooperation of Yazd municipality. Unfortunately, the water reservoirs have turned into a garbage dump. Their walls have been harmed by people who wrote mementoes on them,” said Kargar.

Kargar believes that with the cooperation of Yazd governor’s office as well as the city’s municipality, at least 120 water reservoirs will be revived and ready to be visited by tourists.

Water reservoirs were built to supply water for the inhabitants of the Kavir desert region in Central Iran to make urban settlements possible in this area.

Yazd’s water reservoirs are among the most notable architectural attractions of the city. Most often, these water reservoirs were constructed underground next to mosques. Their designs are similar to those of mosques; and some wind catchers were built on top of them to keep the water cold.

Each year, a large number of domestic and foreign tourists visit these water reservoirs, most of which were built during the Safavid era.

Chahar Koocheh (The 4-Alley) water reservoir, dating back to the Ilkhanid era, is the most historical one in the city of Yazd. There is also another important water reservoir in Yazd city belonging to the Teimurid era, located in an alley behind Yazd Jame Mosque. It was built in 878 A.H. (based on the lunar calendar), and was consisted of a staircase, a bath, and a wind catcher.

Brick, mortar, adobe, and mud have been used in the construction of this building. There is an inscription above the entrance door of the reservoir with two mosaic work inscriptions on its two sides. This reservoir, currently abandoned, is in the initial process of being registered in the list of Iran’s National Heritage.