Ancient pigeon tower restored as tourist destination

June 11, 2021 - 20:0

TEHRAN - A mudbrick pigeon tower in central Iran, where droppings were once collected as fertilizer centuries ago, has been restored to its former state but this time as a tourist destination. The ‘tower’ stands tall in the village of Azizabad, Tiran-Karvan county of Isfahan province.

“Azizabad village has been home to many pigeon towers, but unfortunately one of these towers was destroyed due to the passage of time. The tower underwent urgent restoration based under the supervision of cultural heritage experts,” CHTN quoted a local tourism official as saying on Tuesday.

Each of such bird homes, where the droppings could be collected and used as fertilizer, can hold as many as 14,000 pigeons.

Each of such bird homes can reportedly hold as many as 14,000 pigeons. It is not clear when such pigeon houses were built first but according to the comments by ancient travelers, at least they have been existed since 800 years ago. For the first time, “Ibn Battuta” the famous Moroccan traveler mentioned pigeon houses.

Moreover, according to historians Tamerlane after knowing their functions, ordered to built such places in his capital, Bukhara. Also the famous French traveler, Sharden who visited Iran during the 16th century, again mentioned different pigeon houses in Iran, especially in Isfahan and Yazd. During the invasion of Afghans, most of them were ruined, probably as a result of being used as shelters.

Isfahan, in central Iran, is famed for having a rich heritage of pigeon towers; most of them were built in the 17th century. The architecture of these towers is based on the vernacular architecture of Iran.

The environs of Isfahan are dotted with bizarre but very picturesque pigeon towers. In contrast to a European dovecot, which often housed pigeons to be used as meat, in Iran, the pigeons were never eaten. Here pigeon towers were used as guano factories to produce fertilizers for the melons that have always been the pride of the region. The guano was also used in the manufacture of gunpowder.

Pigeon towers are of considerable size, often 10.5-12 m high, of sturdy construction and fine proportions. The pigeon houses are usually built of mud-brick. Unbelievably varied, often decorated by ornate cupolas and muqarnas friezes, they are so charming that it is well worth going even great distances to see them. It is an efficient use of space inside the towers; the walls were strengthened with interior arches. The ceiling is of a barrel-vaulted kind.

Although there are never two identical pigeon towers, all conform to a single plan. Each tower consists of an outer drum, buttressed internally to prevent collapse and to support the inner drum that rises perhaps a third as high as the main structure. Pigeons can get to their nets through some passages which are such narrow that is impossible to other birds such as eagles or falcons to enter. At the bottoms, there are some smooth parts of stucco works. These parts can avoid snakes to ascend. In some cases, they put a bowl of milk at the center with limes around it. As snakes like milk, they try to get it but will be stuck in the lime.

Nowadays, due to the wide usage of chemical fertilizers, such pigeon towers just convey memories of the past as significant but strange buildings.


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