kharanagh castle - Yazd Province

Kharanaq: The Birthplace of Sun in Iran

It is hard to neglect Yazd when you want to explore the history of civilization in Iran. This historic city is one of the great demonstrations of human existence in this vast, ancient land and is home to many interesting attractions. Kharanaq is one of the most amazing, yet neglected tourist attractions of this part of the country.  This abandoned 4000-year-old village, with its photographic look is among the most interesting sites near Yazd city. There are many sights to visit here, including one of the oldest and largest residential castles in Yazd province. These exciting places attract many tourists from around the world. In fact, we can claim that the village is quite famous among European adventurous travelers and many try to include it on their itineraries. It is said that visiting Kharanaq, Chak Chak and Meybod is a must during your travel to Central Iran and specially Yazd. In this article, we will explore this amazing, ancient site which until 30 years ago, was still inhabited by local people.

Where is Kharanaq?

The village is located in a pretty remote area, about one hour away north from the Yazd city (85 kilometers). Kharanaq is one of the villages in Rabatat Rural District in Ardakan County. In fact, it is 50 kilometers away from Ardakan county on the Arkadan-Tabas road. Because of the existence of many mines like Barite, Zinc and Granite and iron, the region is considered to be one of the important areas of this province. Also, there is a protected area nearby called Darre Anjir which is home to many different kinds of wild animals such as wild cats, Lynx, and Cheetah. The village is in the mountainous area of Yazd province and so it is much cooler than the city. Today, only around 145 families live in this village and many have abandoned living here in the last few years.

The history of Kharanaq

The region has been occupied for about 4000 years, but the ruins of the mud buildings you get to see dates back to around 1000 years. The village is a network of narrow streets, tunnels, and passageways which will remind you of ancient legends and stories. Here you can get lost walking through its passageways, going up to rooftops, looking out windows and contemplating the views from its terraces. It would be an exciting tour just walking among the ruins which local people have left behind. It is still a mystery why the people who lived in this city decided to leave it.

Kharanaq literally means “The birthplace of the Sun”. It was first mentioned by a Zoroastrian pilgrim in the 12th year of the reign of Yazdgerd, the Sassanid king. It was actually a place to rest for businessmen and travelers who were passing the silk road. So, as well as having a mosque, a ‘shaking minaret’ and many houses, the village has also a caravanserai. This guesthouse was a great accommodation for merchants and pilgrims for centuries.

Castle of Kharanaq

Probably the castle is the main reason for visiting this mysterious village. It is interesting to know that the castle is one of the few castles in the world with two- and three-story houses. There are around 80 houses in this castle as well as 6 watching towers and huge walls to protect it from the enemies. Today, it is like a huge exhibition room whose stands are made of clay and mud. But in fact, it could be a city itself with many houses and buildings.

The castle is reminiscent of the Sassanid era and dates back to around 1800 years. It occupies an area of about 1.1 hectares and is among the largest castles of the Yazd province. Entering into this castle, you will find yourself in a maze-like structure, so be careful not to lose your way out.

The bridge of Kharanaq

Many myths and stories surround this bridge as it has never been a passage for animals or livestock. Some believe that the only purpose of constructing this bridge was to transfer water from one side of the Cal River to another part. The rocky pedestal structure which is constructed along the bridge suggests that it could be used as a flood-prone or dam. There are also some documents indicating that the bridge dates back to the Parthian era.

Shaking Minaret

Another interesting site to visit in Kharanaq is a shaking minaret. To withstand earthquakes, the minaret is designed and constructed in a special way so it can move. It is built in a way that one can shake it by giving a gentle push on its upper part. There are only 3 shaking minarets in Iran and this is one of them. Its movement is quite observable and so, it has turned to an attraction in this interesting site. So, try not to miss visiting it while you are in Kharanaq village.