World’s longest aqueduct being prepared for public visit

World’s longest aqueduct being prepared for public visit

The recently-restored Qanat of Zarch, known as the world's longest subterranean aqueduct in central Yazd province, is being prepared for the public visit. This ancient city is a living testimony to the intelligent use of limited available resources in the desert for survival. 

Qanats attract tourists

With the revival of the 3,000-year-old aqueduct and the nearby historical castle, tourism in this area will be developed. Tourists, enthusiasts and experts will soon be able to visit this aqueduct, which can be the most important tourist attraction of the region,  Director General of Cultural Heritage of Yazd Province Ahmad Akhundi said.

Qanat is an underground hydraulic system that combines an irrigation system and a water supply system. The Qanat of Zarch originated from the village of Fahraj stretches some 80 km across the northeast of Yazd and it runs at the depth of 30-40 m beneath the surface. Some 37,000 out of a total of 120,000 ancient subsurface water supply systems, qanats, are still in use in Iran in arid and semi-arid regions of the country.

UNESCO is impressed

A selection of eleven qanats is collectively been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list under the title of Persian Qanat. Each of them epitomizes many others in terms of geographic scopes, architectural designs, and other motives.  It should be said that the name "Persian Qanat" does not fully reflect the origin of the karez, because they were built during the time of the Safavids and Qajars - Turkic dynasties. That is, along with the Persians, the Turks made a great contribution to the construction of aqueducts, and even the "kariz" itself is actively used in the Turkic (Azerbaijani) language today.

UNESCO has it that “The qanats provide exceptional testimony to cultural traditions and civilizations in desert areas with an arid climate.” Generally, each qanat comprises an almost horizontal tunnel for collecting water from an underground water source.

The oldest city of Iran

Yazd is one of the oldest cities in Iran that adopted this concept to make the country's central part settlement possible. The earliest water supply constructions in Yazd are believed to date from the Sassanid era (224 to 651 CE), most surviving ab-anbars can be today traced to the late Safavid and Qajar periods. When it comes to landscape architecture, ab-anbars and wind towers play a pivotal role in enriching the Yazd skyline. 

In July 2017, the historical structure of the city of Yazd was named a UNESCO World Heritage. Wedged between the northern Dasht-e Kavir and the southern Dasht-e Lut on a flat plain, the oasis city enjoys a very harmonious public-religious architecture that dates from different eras. It teems with mud-brick houses that are equipped with innovative badgirs (wind catchers), atmospheric alleyways, and many Islamic and Iranian monuments that shape its eye-catching city landscape. The use of earth in buildings includes walls and roofs through the construction of vaults and domes. Partially covered alleyways, together with streets, public squares, and courtyards, contribute to a pleasant urban microclimate. The city escaped the modernization trends that destroyed many traditional earthen cities.

It survives today with its traditional districts, the qanat system, traditional houses, bazaars, hammams, water cisterns, mosques, synagogues, Zoroastrian temples, and the historic garden of Dolat-Abad. The city enjoys the peaceful coexistence of three religions: Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.