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Abarkooh is one of the ancient Iranian cities located about 140 kilometer (87 miles) to the west of the city of Yazd and bordering the province of Fars. Abarkooh has been one of the famous towns in the ancient are as it was situated on the path of the world renown Silk Road. The population in the 2008 estimate is about 45000 People who live in the 5712 square kilometer area of Abarkooh.

Abarkooh is divided into two districts: centeral district and Bahman district. The important villages of Abarkooh are: Tirjerd, FarAgheh, TirAbAd and EsfandAbAd.

The name of the town has been going through changes. Since it has been built by the edge of the mountain, the name has been “Bare Kooh” which in Persian means “by the mountain”. For simplicity, people then change the name to “Abarkooh”. Its official name is now Abarkooh but it has in the past been called Abarqu, Abarghoo, Abarkooyeh, Abarghooyeh, Dare Kooh and Barghooh.

There are some writings about Abarkooh but I have not yet found a very solid comprehensive one. The are scattered writings which will use later to complete this. There is a book called “ShenAkhte Abarkooh va Ghedmate An” or “Learning about Abarkooh and its History”. It is mentioned in that book that the history of the city of Abarkooh is even dated before the formation of the ancient city of Yazd.

There are many historical sites in the city which is a proof of its civilization and history. One of the most famous things in Abarkooh which attracts many tourists is the old cypress tree which is said to be over 4000 years old (according to a Russian expert). A Japanese scientist has put the age of the tree as old as 8000 years. The height of the tree is about 28 meter. Other historical locations are:

  • Abarkooh 4000 year-old cypress tree 
  • Adobe Icehouse
  • Aghazadeh Mansion: It is one of the old houses of Abarkooh, which has been constructed according to special ecological and climate conditions of arid areas. It has 820 sq. m, with 528 sq. m, substructure. Two-storey wind catcher of this monument is the interesting part. This house belongs to the Qajar period and has been built with mud brick, wood and mud.
  • Aali Dome
  • Bibi sara Khatoon
  • Biroon Mosque
  • Emamzade Ahmad Mausoleum
  • Jame’e Mosque
  • MardomshenAsi (Human Study) Museum
  • Nezamiye Minerates
  • Pir e Seddigh Tomb
  • Rabat Fortress
  • Seyedoon Dome
  • Shahrasb Fortress
  • Solat Mansion

Cypress Tree in Iranian Art and Culture

Among the symbols which the Iranians hold dear, none is as popular as the cypress tree. Innumerable qualities are attributed to this tree and its form. Whenever a Persian poet has tried to best describe the stature of his beloved one, he called her “cypress-like”, comparing her balanced poise, lithe motion and enchanting body to those of the cypress tree, and whenever he has spoken of truthfulness, uprightness and youth, he has taken the cypress tree as a model. 

Believers in free thought have  adopted the cypress tree as a symbol of freedom, an essence without deceit or falseness, and interpreted its barrenness as a sign of its liberty. And mystics have noted that other trees – which at times have fresh leaves and at others appear withered and bare – embody both perfection and desolation, while the cypress tree is free from the latter.

Painters and visual artists have also focused on to the cypress tree and adopted it as one of their favorite theme. Whenever a painter has tried to depict paradise or an idyllic realm, he has populated it with tall cypress trees, and architects, stucco-makers and tile-makers have amply utilized its form in their creations, and women have woven colorful cypress trees in their textiles or carpets. Adding the rows of cypress trees adorning the walls of Persepolis, depicted under the guard of Persian soldiers, to the cypress trees remaining from the post-Sasanian period, one realizes the eternality of the cypress tree in Iranian culture, and becomes even more eager to discover the secret of this eternality. In this quest, one comes across more historic events related to the cypress tree. 

One of these is related to the cypress tree of Kashmar, the felling of which gave birth to a great tragedy in Iranian culture and literature, inspiring many poets and writers. This cypress tree had been planted by Zoroaster. According to historic narratives, during his lifetime the prophet Zoroaster planted two cypress trees as good omens: one in Faryumaz (west of Sabzebar) and the other in Kashmar (south of Mashhad). Both were amazingly large. Upon hearing their description, the “Abbasid caliph Al-Mutavakkal” had ordered the cypress tree of Kashmar to be felled and its wood to be brought to him Samarra to be used in his  Ja’fariyah Palace construction.

According to Bayhaqi, cutting and transporting it from Kashmar to Ja’fariya cost 500,000 dirhams and 300 camels were used to carry its woods. Al-Mutavakkal however, never saw the Zoroaster’s cypress tree. When it was only one stage away from Ja’fariyah, Al-Mutavakkal was assassinated. Aboltayb, the carpenter and the carriers of the tree also met death in different ways.

The cypress tree of Zoroaster was never forgotten by the Iranians. On the contrary, its memory grew ever stronger with the passage of time and poets and artists kept depicting it in their works. With the advent of the Safavid dynasty, and the ensuing reversion to Iranian national themes, the cypress tree of Zoroaster acquired further importance, but, owing to religious and political considerations, the name of Zoroaster was discarded and only its form was retained. 

Aware of the popularity of the cypress tree among the population, the Safavids took advantage of it to further strengthen the Shi’ite creed and introduced it in mourning ceremonies. A type of small metallic cypress tree, called ‘alam and incised with the names of God, Mohammad, Ali and their kin, was carried in from of mourning processions, and another type, which was made of wood, was called nakhl (palm tree).


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We wanted to travel with an Iranian company because we felt that would have more expertise in every way. Uppersia was highly recommended in the Lonely Planet guide. We also wanted more of our money to go to benefit Iran directly, rather than a UK travel company. For the same reason we chose to fly Iran Air.
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