Windcatchers from an Iranian ghost town

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ October 15th, 2011. Filed under: Photography.

Wind Chimneys from an Iranian ghost town

Wind Chimneys from an Iranian ghost town (click to enlarge photograph)

Stunning Windcatchers from a desert in Iran

One the reasons I enjoyed traveling in Iran so much was that many things have stayed untouched for decades. On a visit to Meybod I took a detour to a small abandoned town in the desert. Here, among many other things, I discovered these windcatchers that were used as cooling towers in this abandoned town.

Facts about Windcatchers:

  • Windcatchers are also known as Bâdgir (Persian), wind-chimneys, cooling-towers and wind-towers
  • Windcatchers today can be found in traditional Persian-influenced architecture throughout the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan
  • In central and eastern Iran the air is very dry, with extremes of heat during the day and cold at night. Windcatchers help to moderate this climate in dwellings and storage areas
  • Air is caught in the wind chimneys and circulated down into a larger area. The effect does not cool the air per se, but rather provides the cooling effect of moving air
  • When built over a running water source windcatchers can pull cold air up and into a dwelling
  • If there is no wind, the windcatchers function to pull hot air up from a room, and out through its vents
  • Windcatchers are being developed by modern architects today to provide environmentally friendly solutions to heat distribution

The story behind this photograph

I was finally enjoying my travels in Iran after a rough start. I’d met up with several independent overland travelers. Some were making the most of their last days in Iran after being refused entry into Pakistan. Some more had just made it through on motorbike.

We’d headed out by motorbike and car into the desert to visit Meybod on a day trip when we came across a distant village in the desert. It was completely abandoned. Yet, like many ghost towns, still looked lived in.

Aside from climbing around ruined buildings, the biggest attraction of this city that once was, were these sets of architecturally unique windcatchers. As you can see between them is a dome. Entering into a dome is not as easy as it looks!

These particular domes were used as storage areas for grain and other food stuffs, and were built deeply into the ground. There purpose was to keep a steady temperature.

Windcatchers are evident all over eastern Iran, but it’s something else to see them up close like this, in such a remote setting.

Quite what happened to the rest of the town I don’t know. The majority of the other buildings were quite dilapidated in comparison. Yet these windcatchers remained strong and steadfast. A testament to their architects, builders and unique design.


Windcatchers in an Iranian desert

Windcatchers in an Iranian desert

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This is an additional photograph feature from my world travel photography gallery, documenting the story behind the picture 

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7 Great responses to Windcatchers from an Iranian ghost town

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’ve never seen anything like this before. So different.

  2. Heather says:

    How awesome!! Did you know they were there or was it pure chance you saw them?

  3. Hi Dave – Greetings from Dushanbe Tajikistan, am awaiting a visa to Turkmenistan and will soon be into Iran (for long-awaited revisit) in a month or so. Nice pic; place. QUESTION: Where is this? Near Yazd? Wouldn’t mind stopping by.

    Hope you are well, now.

    Regards – Michael

    the candy trail … a nomad across the planet, since 1988

    • Hi Michael,

      Yes, the place was close to Yazd on the way to Meybod on a day trip. Yazd, was, my favorite place in Iran, could have stayed a lot longer. Lots to do in that area, and a good base camp. I can give you the details of the place I stayed in Yazd, but when I was leaving they were changing from super cheap, to upscale market. The owner owns another hotel nearby, but there are a lot of cheaper places in that area. I found Eastern Iran to be a lot nicer than Western Iran. Not so built up, and the people more friendly.

      Looking forward to reading more about Tajikistan, visas et al once you’re back online!

  4. Gill Bailey says:

    I have seen many Badgir. They fascinate me … such amazing technology …. can be used in architecture today.