When you visit historical monuments as a tourist, you are normally faced with so many details and aspects that may seem strange. There are many places and buildings for example which today are not used anymore. Places that now, at first glance, do not reveal their true purpose to you. But there was a time when they were among the most important buildings in a town or a city. Pigeon tower is one of these examples. Nowadays, you hardly see a tower for keeping pigeons everywhere. But, only during the Qajar era, there were more than 300 towers like this around Isfahan city in Iran! Are you interested in knowing more about these towers? Come join me in this article to discover more about one of the best examples of these towers in Meybod city.
As its name reveals, pigeon tower o pigeon house is a structure intended to house pigeons or dove. They may have different architecture and shapes, but they normally contain holes for birds to nest. Historically, these towers were of high importance in the Middle East and Europe. Examples of these towers can be seen in France, Netherland, Estonia and of course, Iran!
Domesticating pigeons was important at that time. Firstly, because they were a major food source (not in all countries, of course, as a pigeon is especially revered in Islam). Secondly, they used to keep pigeons because of their dropping. The main usage of it was for fertilizing the farms. In Iran farmers generally used the dropping for fertilizing melon and cucumber fields. Pigeon droppings were also used for leather tanning and making gunpowder.
The history of making pigeon towers in Iran dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Most of these towers were specially made during the reign of the Safavid dynasty. Some believe that’s because Safavid had a particular appetite for melons. As farmers believed the best compost for these crops is pigeon dung, they built many towers for keeping these birds. Most of them are now can be found around Yazd and Isfahan, which was the capital of Safavid. This city experienced its heyday during the reign of the Qajar dynasty. It is estimated that there were more than 3000 pigeon towers around this city, the remains of around 300 can be found today in the countryside.
These amazing towers have not only had an interesting usage, but also were great regarding their style and architecture. Normally, the towers were made in circular shapes. To construct one, people normally were using bricks and covered it with plaster and lime. When you step into one of them, you’ll see thousands of holes all around the tower. The holes were used as nests for pigeons and people could gather the eggs from them as well. The examples of these towers which exist in Iran are among the finest dovecots comparing to other parts of the world. It is especially true considering the fact that architecture was of great importance during the Safavid era and many astonishing buildings were built during this period.
Meybod in Yazd province is home to beautiful, rare monuments. Apart from the castle and caravanserai, Meybod has one of the most untouched, well-preserved pigeon towers of the country. It is renovated pretty well and is among the popular attractions of this city. The tower is 8 meters long and has around 4000 nests for birds. In each nest, more than one bird was living and some say that there were around 25 thousand birds living here. The nests are in rectangular shape that makes the interior part of the tower very unique and beautiful. The size of these nests was 20×20 centimeters which makes an excellent fit for the bird. Besides, you will see some plaster works inside the tower which adds to the beauty of it.
Another interesting point is that because of the special architecture of these towers, other birds like owls and animals could not enter it. So, it was a safe house and like a military tower for pigeons and doves. There is a white line all around the tower that is exactly drawn for this reason. Because of the line, snakes could not go up and hunt the birds. On the roof of this tower, 4 small towers and one large tower exist. These towers are actually spots that the pigeon used to enter and exit the tower.
The tower is a great example of the knowledge and art of architecture of that time. They have figured out solutions for common problems in such a structure many years ago! For example, when pigeons feel threatened, they suddenly start to fly and cause vibration inside the tower. So, in addition to building a floor in the middle of the tower, architectures used to create arches between the outer and inner cylinders to strengthen the structure and prevent the vibration.
This monument is built in the south-east of the historic texture of the city. The tower is now run by the governor’s office of Yazd and is easily within reach. So, while you are in Meybod, don’t miss out on checking this interesting structure!