Trip to Ardestan, A tempting suggestion
On this journey, you have to prepare yourself to see the best of beauties of history, architecture, and anthropology. Traveling to the cities of Ardestan and Zaware village is an offer that cannot be denied. All the monuments and wilderness nature attract tourists. Ardestan County with a total area of 10,713 sq.km and a population of 44,735 is located in the west of Naein and 127 km east of Esfahan.

Ardestan City is the center of Ardestan County and 1,241 m above sea level. A vast plain connected to the desert forms the northern part of the city. The southern part is mountainous and to the east, there are Karkas Mountains. Therefore, this county is considered a desert area and there are some large deserts within it, such as Dehsorkh and vast sand deserts within the hills here. The rainfall is low here and people often face a shortage of water, so they use underground water through wells and qanats. The low rainfall, of less than 100 mm per annum, supports adapted plant species such as Amygdalus (wild almond), thistle, salsola, Haloxylon ammodend and Artemisa aucheri (Artemisa semen contra). Qanats supply the water for agriculture and have irrigated gardens of plum, almond, pear and mulberries since ancient times. The tree most suitably adapted to this climate is the pomegranate. Historical Backgrounds, Ardestan is one of the oldest cities in Iran. The Kariz-e Arvoneh is often considered as the reason for Ardestan's existence. It was divided into six streams that ran seventeen water mills. Moghadassi (the 10th-century historian) believes that Ardestan with its prosperous bazaars and a congregational mosque has been one of the largest cities on the margin of the kavir. It had been fortified and each quarter had its own Atashkadeh and fortifications. This account suggests that Ardestan probably had six Atashkadehs. The term Ardestan consists of two words, Arta meaning sacred and Astan meaning stand revealing the religious and ritual creditability of this area. In the past, there were some remains related to the Sassanids.

Atashkadeh Mehr Ardeshir
existed until the 10th century and was later converted into a mosque. Additionally, Arvoneh Fortification and 9 caravanserais have also been named. The city rampart, the moat around it and the interior watermill existed until 1863 when it was converted into a castle-garden and is said to have been the location of the Atashkadeh Mehr Ardeshir. Most of the people of Ardestan were Zoroastrians. The existence of a crossroad called Lab-e Juy-e Gabran in Fahreh Quarter, the Gabrha Cemetery and the relicts of towers of silence on top of a hill north of the largest graveyard of the city are the proofs of Zoroastrianism; Gabr being a Persian word meaning Zoroastrian.
Some historians believe that Ardestan is the birthplace of Anushirvan the Sassanid, the son of Kovad and a mother from an Ardestani farming family, and therefore the construction of a pavilion, Atashkadeh, and fortifications in Arvoneh are attributed to Anushirvan the 19th king of Sassanid dynasty. The name Ardestan is linked with Rostam and was believed once to have been called Arg-e Dastan, meaning castle of the heroic Rostam (Dastan was Rostam's nickname). Claims have also been made that Zavareh, Rostam's brother, had built the city. Uniquely, Ardestani people speak Persian with a special dialect derived from Pahlavi.

Ardestan Masjed Jame

Ardestan Masjed Jame
comes unbidden to the mind of scholars when thinking of genuine Iranian art and architecture and four-porch mosques. This glorious edifice is one of the most beautiful monuments of the Seljuk era. The primary core was a mud-brick construction consisting of some columns, portals and supportive walls left from the old days. The older, 10th century, the mosque had a primitive plan and was said to have been built over an Atashkadeh. Today's mosque has been produced using the construction materials of the old mosque with a four-iwan plan. Built by Maestro Mahmud Esfahani, during the years 1146 to 1149, this is amongst the oldest and the most beautiful four-porch mosques in Iran. Some restorations have been done during the Safavid era but its Seljuk artistic delicacy has been retained. The mosque consists of highrise prayer halls and small hypostyles flanking a brick dome, plus some two-story chambers surrounding a yard. There is a single short minaret and a madreseh including some chambers on the western side, also a tekieh attached to the mosque on the eastern side. Ardestan Masjed Jame is a part of a grand complex including public monuments such as the madreseh, hammam, an abanbaar, a small bazaar and a hosseinieh in Mahaal Quarter.

Ardestan Qanats

Ardestan Qanats
were used since antiquity due to the lack of annual rainfall or other water sources. Qanats were made by hard-working local people to supply water for drinking and irrigation of crops. The original dates of qanats are lost in legend. Some of the qanat's names, for example, Azarbanu and Mehrangiz, come from the names of the princesses of the legendry Kiani dynasty. Kariz-e Arvoneh is attributed to Arvandshah the Kiani, but despite the name and the myths of the locals, this qanat was built during the Sassanid dynasty and is still in use.

In Ardestan, there is a Qanat with two levels of water lying over each other, called the Moon Qanat. The 1st level is 30 meters deep, and the 2nd level is 27 meters deep, so the high difference is 3 meters. The soil formation of Moon Qanat is such that the water from 2nd level does not penetrate the lower level. The strangest qanat in Iran is the two-storey qanat of Moon-e Ardestan that was built approximately 800 years ago; it has ordinary wells together with different mother wells and side wells.

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The Structure of Moon Qanat.
The Qanat of Mun (Moon Qanat) is a 2km long, two-story qanat, having two main tunnels with one mother well each. The lowest tunnel is 30m down and is separated by the above tunnel by 3m of elevation. This top tunnel goes through a half-circle path when it reaches the vertical shafts. The layer between the tunnels is impermeable, so water does not leak between them. However, the tunnels do share all other wells besides their mother wells. The entire Moon Qanat has 30 shafts that are spaced 42.4m apart. Its average outward flow rate is 50 liters per second. One of the most important features of this qanat is the balanced distribution of water or Farázeh bandi among its users in different villages.

Ardestan Moon Qanat

Farázeh bandi (distribution) of water has always been done in Baba Ahmad mosque in the Moon neighborhood. In 7 century the water of two downtown qanats of Moon district and Telk Abad town used to be divided and distributed by two very hard and solid stones, the length of which is about 25 m and the visible height is almost 22 cm and is consisted of 3 faraz with the dimension of 18x35 cm. One-third of the water is Telk Abad town's share, and two-third of it is Moon neighborhood's share. The share of Telk Abad is maintained from both two qanats of this neighborhood, of which after the linking of the two galleries, 1/3 flows to Telk Abad and the other 2/3 forms a stream and irrigates moon farms. The joint of these two qanats is close to Emamzadeh in the south. Payab of the qanat has also two stories, the down story is available when a lack of water strikes.

Zavareh Jame mosque

Zavareh urban-planning
 like Ardestan, Zavareh is located on flat plain as a 45-kilometer stretch of kavir running to its north and east. It is no wonder that in cold winters the temperature reaches -9°C whilst the dry summers reach 45°C. This climate thus described, requires closely joined buildings, forming a green belt made up of gardens and farms. Zavareh has 10 quarters and its most important traditional urban element is Masjed Jame, clearly visible from a far distance. The other elements which identify Zavareh include a square, hosseiniehs in the main axis of the city, a bazaar, a minaret and the old yakhchal in the north of the city.
Therefore, two main axes are quite visible in the city; one is the east-west through road of the old city, joining the two city gates. The Masjed Jame, the hosseiniehs as well as the entrance gates are on this route. The other is the bazaar of the city built at right angles to the old road. There are two caravanserais at the starting point of the bazaar which is located where the two roads cross. The other side of the bazaar ends at the two hosseiniehs of the city. Around these two axes are the traditional houses of Zavareh, some of which are four-iwan in style; some others have a pond type of plan and the rest a combination of the said two types.

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