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, and Islam only gradually became the dominant religion in the city.
Yazd is an important centre of Persian architecture. Because of its climate, it has one of the largest networks of qanats in the world, and Yazdi qanat makers are considered the most skilled in Iran.
To deal with the extremely hot summers, many old buildings in Yazd have magnificent wind towers, and large underground areas.
The city is also home to prime examples of yakhchals, which were used to store ice retrieved from glaciers in the nearby mountains. Yazd is also one of the largest cities built almost entirely out of adobe.
Kerman is located on a high margin of Kavir-e Lut (Lut Desert) in the south-central part of Iran. The city is surrounded by mountains. Kerman is also located along the Saheb Al Zman mountain. The city is 1,755 m (5,758 ft) above sea level, making it third in elevation among provincial capitals in Iran. Winter brings very cold nights to Kerman. The city’s many districts are surrounded by mountains that bring variety to Kerman’s year-round weather pattern. The northern part of the city is located in an arid desert area, while the highland of the southern part of the city enjoys a more moderate climate.
Kerman is among several cites in Iran with a strong cultural heritage, which is expressed in the local accent, poetry, local music, handicrafts and customs that Kerman has introduced to the world.
Isfahan is located on the main north–south and east–west routes crossing Iran, and was once one of the largest cities in the world. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries under the Safavid dynasty, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. Even today, the city retains much of its past glory. It is famous for its Persian–Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb “Esfahān nesf-e- jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).
It is noteworthy to say that what was to become the city of Isfahan in later historical periods probably emerged as a locality and settlement that gradually developed over the course of the Elamite civilization (2700–1600 BCE).
During the Median dynasty, this commercial entrepôt began to show signs of a more sedentary urbanism, steadily growing into a noteworthy regional centre that benefited from the exceptionally fertile soil on the banks of the Zayandehrud River in a region called Aspandana or Ispandana.
Once Cyrus the Great (reg. 559–529 BCE) unified Persian and Median lands into the Achaemenid Empire (648–330 BCE), the religiously and ethnically diverse city of Isfahan became an early example of the king’s fabled religious tolerance. It is said that after Cyrus the Great freed the Jews from Babylon some Jews returned to Jerusalem whereas some others decided to live in Persia and settle in what is now known as Isfahan. But, actually this happened later in the Sasanid period when a Jewish colony was made in the vicinity of the Sasanid.
Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 9 million in the city and 16 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is the largest city and urban area of Iran, the 2nd-largest city in Western Asia, and the 3rd-largest in the Middle East. It is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.
In the Classical era, part of the present-day city of Tehran was occupied by a Median city which in the Avesta occurs as Rhaga. It was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century, and remains now as a city in Tehran Province, located towards the southern end of the modern-day city of Tehran.
Tehran was first chosen as the capital of Iran by Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty in 1796, in order to remain within close reach of Iran’s territories in the Caucasus, before being separated from Iran as a result of the Russo-Persian Wars, and to avoid the vying factions of the previously ruling Iranian dynasties. The capital has been moved several times throughout the history, and Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.
The city was the seat of the Qajars and Pahlavis, the two last imperial dynasties of Iran. It is home to many historical collections, such as the royal complexes of Golestan, Sa’dabad, and Niavaran, as well as the country’s most important governmental buildings of the modern period.
Shiraz is the sixth most populous city of Iran and the capital of Fars Province. At the 2011 census, the population of the city was 1,460,665 and its built-up area with “Shahr-e Jadid-e Sadra” (Sadra New Town) was home to 1,500,644 inhabitants. Shiraz is located in the southwest of Iran on the “Roodkhaneye Khoshk” (The Dry River) seasonal river. It has a moderate climate and has been a regional trade center for over a thousand years. Shiraz is one of the oldest cities of ancient Persia.
The earliest reference to the city, as Tiraziš, is on Elamite clay tablets dated to 2000 BC. In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, due to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. It was the capital of Persia during the Zand dynasty from 1750 until 1800. Two famous poets of Iran, Hafez and Saadi, are from Shiraz, whose tombs are on the north side of the current city boundaries.
Shiraz is known as the city of poets, literature and flowers. It is also considered by many Iranians to be the city of gardens, due to the many gardens and fruit trees that can be seen in the city, for example Eram Garden. Shiraz has had major Jewish and Christian communities. The crafts of Shiraz consist of inlaid mosaic work of triangular design; silver-ware; pile carpet-weaving and weaving of kilim, called gilim and jajim in the villages and among the tribes. In Shiraz industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and rugs dominate.