Iran from above – In the deserts | DW Documentary


Iran is the cradle of a great civilization. It’s also dry: arid land makes up close to a third of the country. In its center lies a vast tableland of rocky plateaus and desert. Yet this merciless climate has been home to humans for thousands of years.

Central Iran, with its sand dunes and rocky plateaus, is the cradle of the ancient Persian Empire, which still shapes Iranian culture today. The film takes us on a journey through this fascinating place.

In the southeast of the Maranjab Desert, the sun beats down on Namak Lake with its thick salt crust, under which only a few plant species can thrive. Kashan is one of the great oasis cities on the road between Tehran and the Persian Gulf, in a region that’s home to the famous Damascus Rose. Further south, the Iranian highlands extend to the Zayanderud River, on which lies Isfahan, the Persian Empire’s former capital. Its royal mosque was severely damaged during the First Gulf War, but is currently being restored to preserve the harmony of the original architecture. Another 200 kilometers south is the city of Yazd, where men practice the ancient sport of varzesh-e bastani.

The journey continues south, to the cave village of Meymand. Some of the 350 or so cave-like dwellings here have been inhabited for centuries. Today, residents make a living from agriculture or traditional handicrafts. Finally, we reach the province of Fars, to the west. It is home to two legendary ancient Persian cities: Persepolis and Firuzabad. This barren landscape is also the home of the Qashqai, a pastoral community that’s been living here for a millennium.

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