Tower of Silence
Tower of Silence in Yazd
- ThemeHistory and Culture
- Duration2 hr(s)
Browsing two Zoroastrian towers used for excarnating the bodies of the dead.
- Spring8:00 -12:00 *15:00-18:00
- Summer8:00 -12:00 15:00-18:00
- Autumn8:00 -12:00 *15:00-18:00
- Winter8:00 -12:00 15:00-18:00
* Best Time
Photos of the Tower of Silence
Explore the Tower of Silence
Tower of Silence
An amphitheater of the dead still has a 3000-year-old tradition of Zoroastrians on display. Water, fire, soil, and wind were sacred elements in the minds of Zoroastrians and there was a great ban against polluting them. Furthermore, they believed that whenever a person died, his body was occupied by an evil spirit. As a consequence, the dead person's corpse couldn't be buried in soil, burnt in the fire or thrown to the water. So, a new architectural structure developed for burying the dead, known as Dakhmeh (dakhma). The Dakhmehs were built on high places, like hill-tops or mountains, in cylindrical forms. They consisted of a circular part encircled by walls and a deep well in the middle of it. The circular part was divided into three parts: the inner part for the male corpses, the middle part for infants and children and the outer part for females. When a person died, based on the above divisions, his or her corpse was put in the circular area. Then, carnivorous birds preyed on the corpses, leaving nothing but bare bones. The leftover bones were dried in the sun in a process called Khorshid Nigerishn ( beholding by the sun). Later, these dry bones were thrown into the well to rest there eternally. The disintegration of the bones in the pit is aided by lime or some other materials. The platform was covered with impermeable slabs of stone in order to prevent the transmission of the pollution to the earth. The city of Yazd houses two of such towers, known as Towers of Silence.
Up in the towers, in the presence of an overwhelming sheer silence engulfing the place, Robert Murphy’s use of Towers of Silence to describe the two Dakhmeh sounds to the point. The earliest account of the Zoroastrians' burial ceremony, was recorded by Herodotus in the 5th century. But the use of the structure known today as Dakhmeh seems to be a Sassanid innovation documented no earlier than the 9th century.
Maybe no other place in Yazd can offer such a wonderful view of the city and its outskirts; on one side, you have the view of the desert lined with mountains, and on the other side, the city is stretched on the horizon with its wind towers rising to the sky. The larger tower of silence, called Golestan, is 25 m wide and 6 m high. The other one is older and is named after Maneckji Hataria, the Indian Zoroastrian who was sent to Iran in the 19th century in order to help improve the condition of the Zoroastrian community of Iran. The other buildings scattered around the hills, dating back to the Safavid era, have presumably been used for the execution of funeral rituals. The rituals were conducted by those who lived in Dakhmeh complex and no one else was permitted in the tower. A Zoroastrian priest would pray for the newly deceased before it was rested on its place.
As the cities expanded close to the Dakhmeh areas, and due to some other practical drawbacks, the towers of silence in Iran went gradually out of use during the 20th century until the legal prohibition of this method in the 1970s. Towers of silence are still in use in India, not as smooth as before. However, those determined not to give up their ancestral traditions have resorted to such solutions as vulture breeding or using solar concentrators to accelerate the decomposition of the flesh by the sun. Ever since the Zoroastrians bury their dead in graves lined with rocks and cement in order to prevent direct contact between the corpse and the soil.
As the tower is located on the top of a hill, you need to climb up a long stairway (but it is not that steep)
The site is NOT accessible for wheelchair users
It is recommended to visit the site during sunset to have a memorable panoramic view of Yazd
Hiring a local guide to describe the Zoroastrians’ traditions is really helpful.
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