Century-old Yazd public baths gain past glory

TEHRAN – Shazdeh, an Afsharid-era (1736-1748) public bathhouse in the historic village of Tezerjan in central Yazd province, has been restored, a local tourism official said.

The project involved lightening and repairing the roof as well as strengthening the structure using cob materials, Hamidreza Abbasi said on Monday, CHTN reported.

The historic public baths, which were built over two floors with two entrances for men and women, were in use until the beginning of the Pahlavi period (1925-1979), the official added.

The public baths were inscribed on the national heritage list in 2009.

Public baths or “hammams” in Iran were not only places for bathing and cleaning. They had a social concept for the people who gathered at these places every week.

It was a place where people talked about their daily lives and shared humor and news. There are still public baths in Iranian cities but they no longer have their social function since most people have bathrooms in their homes due to the modern way of life.

Some towns had separate public baths for men and women. They were usually built next to each other. However, there were a few public baths, which were used by men and women at different times of the day.

There were also public baths for men and women; at dawn, a longhorn (booq-e javaz) was blown to announce that the bath was ready. The men came to the baths from daybreak until afternoon. Women could use the public baths until sunset. In some cases, five days have been allocated for men and two days for women.

Persian literature is full of proverbs, tales and popular stories about public baths, which indicate the importance of the place in the past.

In July 2017, the historic structure of the city of Yazd was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wedged between the north of Dasht-e Kavir and the south of Dasht-e Lut on a flat plain, the oasis city benefits from a very harmonious public-religious architecture dating from different eras.

Yazd is generally regarded as a pleasant place to stay or a must see destination by almost all of its visitors. The city is full of mud brick houses fitted with innovative badgirs (wind catchers), atmospheric alleys, and numerous Islamic and Iranian monuments that shape its eye-catching cityscape.

It is a living testimony to the intelligent use of the limited resources available in the desert for survival. Water is brought to the city by the qanat system. Each district of the city is built on a qanat and has a communal center.

The use of land in buildings includes walls and roofs by the construction of vaults and domes. The houses are built with courtyards below grade, serving underground areas. Wind catchers, courtyards and thick earth walls create a pleasant microclimate.


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