Approximately 100 km away from Isfahan and 200 km from Yazd, Varzaneh desert village is known for it’s wonderful sand dunes in Iran. The place is (not so much) frequented by tourists who are seeking the peace of a night spent in a desert and the warmth of an evening around a camp fire sitting with Iranians on a Persian carpet under the stars.
Varzaneh desert village was the last civilization on the Zayanderud river since 5000 years ago. The Zayanderud river ends at Gavkhouni wetland which is 30km east of Varzaneh. Within the lands between wetland and Varzaneh, signs of a very ancient civilization are unearthed.
Further investigations on some pots that have been discovered, confirms the fact that the district of Varzaneh has been inhabited for 5,000 years.
Varzaneh is regionally famous and it’s also known for its spectacular desert all over the world, which is ranked as one of the most accessible deserts of Iran, in particular for tourists coming to Isfahan city. Many travelers like that the desert is close to civilization – that way they have food and water easy to reach by car, and access to medical centers in the case of any problem. Although Varzaneh desert is ranked as one of the safest deserts of Iran, it’s only 15 km away from its sand dune desert.
Unique to Varzaneh, are the local women’s costumes. They wear completely white Chadors, while women in the rest of Iran, mostly wear black Chadors.
Many local people speak an ancient Pahlavi Sasani dialect, a quite similar dialect to that spoken by the Zoroastrians in Yazd today.
The ancient Ghurtan old citadel is located 12 km west of Varzaneh, and you can reach to it directly from Isfahan, being 90 km east of Isfahan city.
It’s located on the bank of the Zayanderud river and has survived natural disasters and many wars for 1000 years. Having very thick walls made of adobe mud brick) made it a protected complex for people living in the region. The thickness of the walls varies from 3 to 4 m and they are about 9 m high. The citadel has an area of 40,000 square meters.
Nowadays, only four families are living inside. The citadel contains four mosques, a pigeon house, a water reservoir, a mill and many houses. It is protected by fourteen round towers and you would enter by two gateways.
Another interesting spot is the salt lake, which in fact was belonging to Gavkhouni ecosystem, being the southwestern part of the wetlands. It is more than 15 km in the area and the salt plain stretches to the wetlands.
There is a part of that which locals are mining salt from. It is very glorious and attractive to many tourists when they see a blue sky with the purely vast white ground. There is a short road to Salt Lake from Varzaneh, which is not asphalt, unfortunately.
Therefore, people willing to visit the salt lake, take the Shiraz road from Varzaneh for about 40 km, reaching to Khara village. Then from Khara, you have about 15 km in a specific road for the salt lake. Starting from 10 km in the latter road, you will see the signs of a big salty area until 15 km afterward.
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