Iran’s Yazd City Inscribed on World Heritage List
Yazd is home to UNESCO-listed ancient Persian qanats as well as
Dolat Abad Garden, which is one of nine Iranian gardens inscribed
collectively on the World Heritage List as “the Persian Gardens”.
The historical city of Yazd in central Iran has become the country’s 22nd
world heritage site after the World Heritage Committee voted in favor of its
inscription (July 9) during the committee’s 41st session in
Almost 200 hectares of the city’s 2,270-hectare historical texture now boast
world heritage status.
Yazd is now the only UNESCO-listed Iranian city where people still live. It
is also believed to be the world’s largest inhabited adobe city.
Registering the site on the coveted list was a tougher task than Iranian
officials had hoped. The ancient city’s dossier was supposed to be
considered for inscription last year but was deemed incomplete by UNESCO’s
assessors who gave Iran a long list of shortcomings that had to be redressed
to improve the city’s chances of inscription on the coveted list.
Cultural heritage authorities have envisioned a buffer zone of around 665.93
hectares for the designated area.
Yazd is home to UNESCO-listed ancient Persian qanats as well as Dolat
Abad Garden, which is one of nine Iranian gardens inscribed collectively on
the World Heritage List as “the Persian Gardens”.
The city is known for its adobe architecture, Zoroastrian fire temples and
tall structures known as badgirs, or wind-catchers, which in ancient
times functioned as natural ventilation in large buildings.
One of the key measures that Iran had been told to take was “extending the
buffer zone in the area of Dolatabad Garden to provide improved protection
of its setting from the impacts of future development”.
This is a common problem facing historical and cultural sites in Iran, whose
buffer zones are either too small or otherwise ignored by city officials,
thanks to lax laws.
Mohammad Hassan Talebian, deputy for cultural heritage at Iran’s Cultural
Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, has said that the
organization had addressed all the issues outlined by UNESCO.
With 22 world heritage sites, Iran is ranked first in the Middle East and
Iran’s UNESCO-listed cities, such as Shahr-e-Soukhteh (Burned City),
are all uninhabited, which would make Yazd the first city on the coveted
list inhabited by a large population.
As of May 19, Iran has listed 10 sites on UNESCO’s tentative list of world
heritage sites this year, which are up for inscription within five to 10
Yazd Inscription on UNESCO List Will Add to its Allure
The inscription of Yazd on the UNESCO World Heritage List will pave the way
for inscribing other historical and adobe cities in the country.
Talebian said preparing the dossier for Yazd would not have been possible
without the coordinated effort of authorities and activists.
“We prioritized Yazd’s inscription on the list and managed to prepare its
dossier in time to submit to UNESCO last year,” he was quoted as saying.
Last October, experts from the France-based International Center for Earthen
Architecture, CRAterre, traveled to Yazd to help officials compile the
dossiers for the city’s inscription on the World Heritage List and help
monitor and preserve its historical texture.
Restoring Yazd’s historical texture will no doubt help the city’s growth and
dynamism–important factors in the eyes of UNESCO members.
Talebian said Yazd’s inscription on the coveted list will have a significant
impact on the city’s tourism industry, as it will add a certain allure to
religious and cultural attractions.
is the capital of Yazd Province, Iran. The city is located 270 km (170 mi)
Because of generations of adaptations to its desert surroundings, Yazd has a
unique Persian architecture. It is nicknamed the “City of Windcatchers” from
its many examples. It is also very well known for its Zoroastrian fire
temples, ab anbars, qanats, yakhchals, Persian handicrafts, handwoven
cloth, silk weaving, Persian Cotton Candy, and its time-honored
Yazd has a history of over 5,000 years, dating back to the time of the
Median Empire, when it was known as Ysatis or Issatis. The
present city name, however, is derived from Yazdegerd I, a Sassanid ruler of
Persia. The city was definitely a Zoroastrian center during Sassanid times.
After the Arab conquest of Iran, many Zoroastrians migrated to Yazd from
neighboring provinces. By paying a levy, Yazd was allowed to remain
Zoroastrian even after its conquest.
Always known for the quality of its silk and carpets, Yazd today is one of
Iran’s industrial centers for textiles. There is also a considerable
ceramics and construction materials industry and unique confectionery and
jewelry industries. A significant portion of the population is also employed
in other industries including agriculture, dairy, metal works, and machine
manufacturing. There are a number of companies involved in the growing
information technology industry, mainly manufacturing primary materials such
as cables and connectors. Currently Yazd is the home of the largest
manufacturer of fiber optics in Iran.
In 2000 the Yazd Water Museum opened; it features exhibits of water storage
vessels and historical technologies related to water.
Yazd has expanded its industrial fields since the 1980s. With at least three
main industrial areas each containing over 70 different factories, Yazd has
become one of the most technologically advanced cities of Iran. The most
famous corporations include Yazd Steel, Shimi Plastic of Yazd, and Yazd
Properties Inscribed on the World Heritage List
The following are the Iranian properties inscribed on the World Heritage
Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran (2008)
Bam and its Cultural Landscape (2004)
The Cultural Landscape of Maymand (2015)
Golestan Palace (2013)
Gonbad-e Qābus (2012)
The Historical City of Yazd (2017)
Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan (2012)
Meidan-e Emam, Isfahan (1979)
Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardebil (2010)
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System (2009)
Tabriz Historical Bazaar Complex (2010)
Takht-e Soleyman (2003)
Tchogha Zanbil (1979)
The Persian Garden (2011)
The Persian Qanat (2016)
Yazd is now the only UNESCO-listed Iranian city where people still
live. It is also believed to be the world’s largest inhabited adobe
Lut Desert (2016)
Properties Submitted on the Tentative List (57)
A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties which each State Party
intends to consider for nomination.
Jame’ (Congregational) Mosque of Isfahan (1997)
The Historical ensemble of Qasr-e Shirin (1997)
Firuzabad Ensemble (1997)
Nasqsh-e Rostam and Naqsh-e Rajab (1997)
Tape Sialk (1997)
The Ensemble of Historical Sassanid Cities in Fars Province (Bishabpur,
Firouzabad, Sarvestan) (2007)
Taq-e Bostan (2007)
Kuh-e Khuaja (2007)
Persepolis and other relevant buildings (2007)
The Historical–Cultural Axis of Fin, Sialk, Kashan (2007)
The Historical Ensemble of Qasr-e Shirin (2007)
The Historical Monument of Kangavar (2007)
The Historical city of Yazd (2007)
The Historical City of Maybod (2007)
The Historical Port of Siraf (2007)
Bazaar of Qaisariye in Laar (2007)
The Historical Village of Abyaneh (2007)
Bastam and Kharghan (2007)
The Historical Texture of Damghan (2007)
The Cultural-Natural Landscape of Ramsar (2007)
Kaboud Mosque (2007)
Tous Cultural Landscape (2007)
The Historical City of Masouleh (2007)
The Complex of Izadkhast (2007)
The Cultural Landscape of Alamout (2007)
Khorramabad Valley (2007)
Ghaznavi- Seljukian Axis in Khorasan (2007)
The Cultural Landscape of Uramanat (2007)
Hyrcanian Forest (Caspian Forest) (2007)
Qeshm Island (2007)
Arasbaran Protected Area (2007)
Khabr National Park and Ruchun Wildlife Refuge (2007)
Alisadr Cave (2007)
Silk Route (Also as Silk Road) (2008)
The Natural-Historical Landscape of Izeh (2008)
The Zandiyeh Ensemble of Fars Province (2008)
Kerman Historical-Cultural Structure (2008)
The Collection of Historical Bridges (2008)
Touran Biosphere Reserve (2008)
Hamoun Lake (2008)
Harra Protected Area (2008)
Asbads (windmill) of Iran (2017)
The Natural-Historical Complex / Cave of Karaftoo (2017)
Imam Reza Holy Complex (2017)
The Industrial Heritage of Iranian Railway (2017)
The Industrial Heritage of textile in the central Plateau of Iran (2017)
Persian Caravanserai (2017)
Salt Domes of Iran (2017)
The Great Wall of Gorgan (2017)
The Persian House in Central plateau of Iran (2017)
University of Tehran (2017)
World Heritage List Nominations
Only countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention, pledging to
protect their natural and cultural heritage, can submit nomination proposals
for properties on their territory to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO’s
World Heritage List.
1. Tentative List
The first step a country must take is to make an ‘inventory’ of its
important natural and cultural heritage sites located within its boundaries.
This ‘inventory’ is known as the Tentative List, and provides a forecast of
the properties that a State Party may decide to submit for inscription in
the next five to ten years and which may be updated at any time. It is an
important step since the World Heritage Committee cannot consider a
nomination for inscription on the World Heritage List unless the property
has already been included on the State Party’s Tentative List.
2. The Nomination File
By preparing a Tentative List and selecting sites from it, a State Party can
plan when to present a nomination file. The World Heritage Centre offers
advice and assistance to the State Party in preparing this file, which needs
to be as exhaustive as possible, making sure the necessary documentation and
maps are included. The nomination is submitted to the World Heritage Centre
for review and to check it is complete. Once a nomination file is complete
the World Heritage Centre sends it to the appropriate Advisory Bodies for
3. The Advisory Bodies
A nominated property is independently evaluated by two Advisory Bodies
mandated by the World Heritage Convention: the International Council on
Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), which respectively provide the World Heritage Committee with
evaluations of the cultural and natural sites nominated. The third Advisory
Body is the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and
Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), an intergovernmental organization
which provides the Committee with expert advice on conservation of cultural
sites, as well as on training activities.
4. The World Heritage Committee
Once a site has been nominated and evaluated, it is up to the
intergovernmental World Heritage Committee to make the final decision on its
inscription. Once a year, the Committee meets to decide which sites will be
inscribed on the World Heritage List. It can also defer its decision and
request further information on sites from the States Parties.
5. The Criteria for Selection
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding
universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These
criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation
of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention,
is the main working tool on World Heritage. The criteria are regularly
revised by the Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage
Until the end
of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and
four natural criteria. With the adoption of the revised Operational
Guidelines, only one set of ten criteria exists.