On 3 October, the UNESCO Representative to I.R. Iran, Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, toured the old city of Yazd to visit some of the rehabilitation and restoration works that have recently been carried out by the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization.
The historic city of Yazd was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2017. It bears living testimony to the use of limited resources for survival in the desert. Water is supplied to the city through a qanat system developed to draw underground water. The earthen architecture of Yazd has escaped the modernization that destroyed many traditional earthen towns, retaining its traditional districts, the qanat system, traditional houses, bazars, hammams, mosques, synagogues, Zoroastrian temples and the historic garden of Dolat-abad.
Ms. Kuisch Laroche visited some of the restored “payabs” (big shafts leading down to the qanats), which are now accessible to tourists and allow visitors to learn more about the elaborate system of qanats underneath the city.
The Persian qanats have also been registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2016, as they provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.
Throughout the arid regions of Iran, agricultural and permanent settlements are supported by the ancient qanat system of tapping alluvial aquifers at the heads of valleys and conducting the water along underground tunnels by gravity, often over many kilometres. The eleven qanats representing this system include rest areas for workers, water reservoirs and watermills. The traditional communal management system still in place allows equitable and sustainable water sharing and distribution.
The UNESCO Representative visited several payabs, traditional reservoirs of drinking water, water mills, and walked inside the Zarch qanat – the longest qanat in the world. She commended ICHHTO on all of the restoration works that have been undertaken in a short period of time in the old city of Yazd.
“This is one of the great aspects of the World Heritage concept. It provides an important incentive to authorities, the private sector and local communities to invest in the conservation of their heritage, and it generates increased tourism and associated benefits for local communities”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
To learn more about the World Heritage Sites in Iran, please see: