Friday, June 6, 2014

Take Me to Alexander's Prison

While on the way to Jameh Mosque in Yazd, I saw a sign giving directions to Zendāne Eskandar, Alexander's Prison. "What's Alexander's Prison? Can we go there?" The tour guide reluctantly answered, "Yah, we'll go there." We didn't.

The next day, we got in a cab and asked to go to Alexander's Prison. The driver, in keeping with the warm, lighthearted Yazdi attitude that I got to know, joked that he didn't feel right about taking three women to prison. He dropped up off and recommended (a very good call) us to also visit the Isatis ceramic shop next to it. 

I came out of Alexander's Prison with a few takeaways:

1. The name sounds awesome.
2. The room under the dome was rather unexpectedly massive and creepy.
3. The alcoves have been converted into ceramic/handicraft stores.
4. If you need to go to the bathroom, this is a good place- plenty of clean ones.
5. The underground teahouse is lovely. 

But I left so distracted by the wonderful shopping and the thought of "should I have bought those earrings quoting Ferdowsi's cho Iran nabāshad, tane man mabād?, if Iran doesn't exist, neither will I," that I still didn't know why it was called Alexander's Prison. 


According to Lonely Planet, it gets its name from a reference in a Hafiz poem, and the well in the courtyard may or may not have been built and used as a dungeon by Alexander the Great. I'm guessing probably not. 

room under the dome


Stairs leading into the teahouse


The tour guide was so eager to explain the history and details of everything (and he knew what he was talking about) that I then understood why he was less than excited to visit this place. Nevertheless, it absolutely IS worth a visit for the architecture, wind towers, and a sense of old Yazd. I'm guessing, especially during those Yazdi summers, you'll also want to take advantage of any place that has any kind of a cool underground area. And like I said in my #5 takeaway, the teahouse is lovely.


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