Amir Chakhmaq Mosque Complex

Top choice in Yazd

The stunning three-storey facade of this Hosseinieh is one of the largest such structures in Iran. The rows of perfectly proportioned sunken alcoves are at their best and most photogenic in late afternoon, when the copper-coloured sunlight is captured within each alcove and the towering exterior appears to glow against the darkening sky. New two-storey arcades hem the pedestrianised square and illuminated fountains lend an attractive foreground to the splendid vista at night. Only the 1st floor of the structure is accessible.

A huge wooden palm nakhl (cypress tree-shaped wooden structure) is parked under the Amir Chakhmaq. An important centrepiece for the observance of Shiite Ashura commemorations, this nakhl is over 200 years old and is no longer moved. During Ashura, it is draped in a black cover for a day or two around the celebrations to represent the coffin of Imam Hossein. Illusions to cypress trees, and by association the nakhl (which in fact means date palm), predate Islam and signify immortality, resistance and freedom – qualities that have come also to be associated with the Shiite imam, Imam Hossein.

Underneath the complex is a bazaar where kababis specialise in jigar (grilled liver).