Watching the Sunrise in Yazd

On my first night in Yazd, I didn’t mind the fitful sleep that usually plagues my travels. The chance to catch a sunrise in the desert for the first time beckoned and I wasn’t planning to snooze through it. I checked my phone; a few minutes remained before it was scheduled to wake me up.

I slipped out of the warm embrace of my bed and threw a windbreaker over my pyjamas. Twilight had already begun, so finding the staircase that led to the rooftop was easy. Thankfully, the receptionist hadn’t locked the door too. I gave it a gentle push and it heralded the rush of crisp air with a metallic creak.

Twilight over Yazd was a stunner

The first warm tones had already appeared in the mist that hung over the mountains. Street lamps twinkled in the distance, while floodlights illuminated the tiled domes and minarets. Meanwhile, the old city waited for the sun to brighten its adobe surfaces. Little lamps bathed the alleys between them in an amber glow.

Yazd sunrise

One by one, the lights went out as the first rays of sunshine lit the wind catchers. The peaceful silence was remarkable. Perhaps I’d missed the prayer call that I’d expected to echo from the minarets at dawn. Perhaps the mudbrick walls muffled the sounds of roosters and scooter engines. Whatever it was, I enjoyed the result.

Yazd sunrise

As the cloudless sky lit up, I turned to look for the desert sun but the terracotta dome of a nearby mausoleum obscured my view. At least it saved me from possibly going blind. Doing so in Yazd would’ve been disastrous when I’d yet to see many more things in Iran and the rest of the world.

Yazd sunrise

I looked around for signs of other tourists sharing that quiet moment. After all, many hotels and shops have rooftop access and they proudly advertise it. If other people were also watching the sunrise, they were too far away for me to spot. Maybe they were on the other side of the old city, closer to the Jameh Mosque or the Amir Chamakh complex. The distance didn’t matter; I still enjoyed an unobstructed view of both.

If you’ve experienced the pre-dawn crowds, the selfie sticks and the constant touting at Angkor Wat, you’d know what I mean when I say sunrise in Yazd is its antithesis. Iran may be getting more visitors lately, but with many panoramic spots to go around, I think it’ll be a long time before we’ll need to jostle for one. Poseurs will appreciate having a view and a photograph that they can truly claim as their own.

Yazd sunrise

Despite my windbreaker and the onset of daylight, the wintry cold started to get to me. After 30 minutes of moving only my shutter finger, it was time to retreat to my room. Even though sunrise in the desert wasn’t life-changing, watching the light transform a skyline I wouldn’t see anywhere else was worth losing sleep for.

Another Iranian stunner: The stained glass of Nasir al-Mulk mosque

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