Old Yazd is a maze of mud brick houses all interconnected by passages that once used to be the alleys of an extended bazaar. Nowadays most shops are deserted and motorbikes noisily ride through the passages avoiding the traffic outside. Yazd can be extremely hot in the summer months, but ancient architects had a solution ready: Badgirs, or wind catchers on the roofs. These little towers on top of a building have slits on all four sides to catch the wind, take it down into the house, while the hot air is sucked out through the same system. At affluent households the incoming air was further cooled by a small pool of water, also moisturizing the bone-dry air.
This ancient air conditioning not only cooled houses, but large water cisterns and public places. Few of them are still working today. Why this excellent system run by free renewable energy has not been copied all over the world leaves you wondering. Maybe for the very reason: that it is free and no profit can be made. The highest of these wind catchers is in the peaceful garden of Bagd-e-Dolat, where visitors can study the inside of the mechanism.
Equally important to beat the heat: traditional houses were built ten steps below street level. This is how we entered all old buildings in Yazd arriving in a large – sunken – courtyard full of small trees, flowers and a small rectangular pool. The family lived in rooms all facing the picturesque courtyard. Our simple guesthouse – the Oriental Guesthouse – had a similar setup and we enjoyed hanging out on the carpet covered wooden beds. Like everybody else in Yazd, we ate our meals at the super efficient Silk Road Hotel. Their few rooms were rather grotty, but the food some of the best we had in Iran, where Kebab seems to be the main fare in restaurants.