Who has ever seen a fire that has been burning for 4.000 years? We did when visiting the the Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Yazd. This eternal flame is said to have survived all this time and even the transfer from different temples. Flickering brightly behind a glass barrier – so it would not be polluted by human breath – it is the only attraction inside the simple building. The entrance is adorned with a winged figure, a few scripts and photos on the wall of the viewing room are the only décor.
Yazd was and is a stronghold of Zoroastrianism – Iran’s pre-Islamic religion – and the world’s first monotheistic religion. This omnipotent and invisible god is Ahura Mazda. In Yazd more evidence of Zoroastrianism is in store: on two barren hilltops outside the city sit two Towers of Silence. Each tower consists a flat uncovered platform surrounded by a high wall. In this large circular place corpses were left for the vultures to pick the bones clean, in accordance with Zoroastrian belief about the purity of the earth. It was only in the 1960s that this kind of ceremony was stopped. On top we met a very talkative local who would not let us leave without explaining every detail. When we returned our cabdriver was in despair: he had no clue what took us so long.
Chak-Chak is Iran’s most famous Zoroastrian pilgrimage far out in the desert. A steep climb up hill is where we found a temple, home of the “drip”. And that is the story of the drip: a princess fleeing and thirsty threw her staff against the rock and water has been dripping from it since then. This is pretty much it, again a few scripts, and an impressive brass door showing Zoroaster. The view across the desert is stunning, though. We arrived really in the morning to escape the heat. Our little car was able to drive all the way up the entry point, so we only had to climb the many, many stair up to the very temple. When we watched the tour busses unload way down in the valley and its Italian passengers puffing up the dusty hill at 11:00 am, we felt truly sorry for them.