About Alexander’s Prison

Iskandar Prison or Alexander’s Prison, also known as Ziaiyeh School, is one of the historical attractions of Yazd city. And it is very famous because of its obscure history. The entrance to this building is very short; But after entering the courtyard of the school, the grandeur of this historical building with the Islamic architecture of the Ilkhanid period will make you stand in awe. 

One of the interesting points about the Ziaiye school is the similarity of the dome of this historical building to the dome of the Twelve Imams tomb located nearby. This work was registered as one of Iran’s national Heritages on March 23, 1967. Currently, there are attractive handicraft shops operating in this place where you can see the production process of all kinds of them.

History of Alexander’s Prison

Among the historical monuments of Yazd city, the Ziaiye School with an age of about eight centuries has remained like a solid mountain from the heart of history. This building is better known as Alexander’s prison, and it is said that Alexander the Great built a prison on his way to Rey City, in a place called “Kethe” which is currently Yazd city.

Later, during the Sassanid era, by the order of Yazdgerd I, a city was built in this place, which was named “Yazdan Gerd”. However, there is no record of Alexander’s presence or passing through this place or the ancient city of Yazd in any of the historical documents, and only local historians of Yazd have mentioned it.

Nevertheless, this city can be mentioned as a suitable strategic location for the deployment of Greek military forces, which facilitated the conquest of Persia and Media by Alexander. Also, the main road and ancient mailmen stops from Pars to Khorasan and Ray to Kerman passed through Yazd. Therefore, a place for the opponents of Iskandar (the prison) in Yazd is not far from imagination.

 History of Alexander's prison

The local historians of Yazd quoted about Alexander the Great’s attack on Iran, the flood of Alexander’s exiles to the city of Yazd, as well as the people’s hatred and fear of Alexander the Great at that time, are among the reasons for the formation of a name such as Alexander’s Prison in this place.

In the 9th century AH, the researchers of the local history of Yazd, including Jafari in the history of Yazd and Kateb in the new history of Yazd, mixed the name of Katheh with the narratives of Alexander’s prison. They considered Katheh as the first building of Yazd, which was built by the command of Alexander the Great. They refer to the prison as “Zulqarnain Prison”. In Hafez’s book, we come across a verse about Iskandar’s prison:

“My heart is filled with the horror of Alexander’s prison
I pack my bag and leave for the Suleiman’s land”

After this building became a ruin, a pit appeared in one of its parts, which everyone thought was a dungeon. So the idea that this building was a prison became stronger than before. During the restoration and examination by experts, it was found that this pit was the remnant of the construction of a water supply network underground.

Instead of being a sign of prison, these pits were a testimony of the intelligence and ingenuity of the Iranians in trying to provide water in the desert land. Most experts have rejected that this building had been a prison. They believe that there was no prison called Iskandar prison or if it was, it was built as a separate building from the Ziaiye school.

There had been no such thing as Alexander’s Prison

Alexander's prison

In the Yadgarhe Yazd book, written by Iraj Afshar and some other sources, this building is referred to as a school, a mosque, and a tomb. And there is no mention of prison. It is possible that today’s Alexander’s prison is the remains of one of the houses of the Razi family and the remains of their tombs.

Moinuddin Natanzi, one of the historians of the 9th century, has introduced the land of Yazd as the Zahhak prison in his writings. This city reached the peak of prosperity in terms of culture and the establishment of educational centers during the reign of Al Muzaffar.

And nowhere in Iran, there was such a Dar al-Talim (school) as Yazd. In such a way that Yazd became known as “Dar ol-Elm” ( a Learning place of knowledge). Therefore, the number of schools in this city was the highest, and Ziaiye School was one of these schools.

In fact, experts are of the opinion that this building was founded as a school in the year 1233 by Ziauddin Hussain Razi, a famous mystic. and in 1305, his sons named Majd e-ddin Hassan and Sharafoddin Ali completed it. More than 700 years ago, Ziaiyeh school was a place of teaching and it was responsible for hosting discussions of elders and scholars.

According to the historical evidence of the Razi family, they built great houses and high windcatchers around this building. At that time, this building had a tall gate, two lofty minarets, and a garden full of trees. And the library and bathroom were located in front of the building.

Structure of Alexander’s Prison

The architecture of Ziaiye school or Alexander’s Prison has a unique feature; Because, its structure is simple but at the same time, it shows the beauty of the art of that era. In the construction of this huge historical building, they used no type of tile decoration. It seems that they only used raw clay to build the school building, which may be the reason for its endurance and durability until the modern century.

Alexander's prison

Ziaiyeh school is built with Azeri architecture; A style attributed to Azerbaijan, which became popular in Iranian architecture after Islam and during the rule of the Ilkhanate. This method is also known as the Mongol or Iranian-Mongol style.

The construction of this building has been done in two stages:

In the first stage, they built its old dome a tomb at the same time as the Mongols attacked. And there was no school at all.
In the second stage, about 200 years later, in the early 8th century AH, the grandson of the first builder of the dome built a school next to it. And they put a door connecting the school to the dome.

Where to Eat near Alexander’s Prison

1. Tahmoures Historical restaurant & coffee shop
2.Karizma Cafe’ & Restaurant
3.Fooka restaurant
4.Emarat Vakil
7.Marco Polo Rooftop Restaurant
8.Termeh & Toranj
9.Cafe Kolomboo
10.Tanoorak Traditional Cafe

Where to Stay near Alexander’s Prison

  1. Shaarbaf Hotel
  2. Fazeli Hotel
  3. Traditional Kohan Hotel
  4. Firoozeh Traditional Hotel
  5. Hooman boutique hotel
  6. Fahadan Museum Hotel
  7. Hotel Laleh Yazd
  8. Firouzeh Hotel
  9. Darvish Home
  10. Moshir Caravanserai Yazd Hotel
  11. Dad Hotel

Alexander’s Prison Location

Address: Yazd, Fahadan historical neighborhood, Rakhtoshuikhaneh alley, Hamam Nou alley, next to Twelve Imams’ tomb.

This building is located in the historical part of Yazd city. Due to the geographical location of Iskandar’s house and its location in the historical neighborhood of Fahadan, you can easily visit other historical attractions of Yazd.

Alexander’s Prison in yazd

How To Get To Alexander’s Prison

As soon as you enter Yazd with your car or public transportation, you should find the clock tower to guide you to Yazd Grand Mosque. From here on you have to leave your car and follow the signs. As you walk, go to the Fahadan neighborhood and enter the Rakhtoshuikhaneh alley among all the alleys. If you see the grave of the Imam, you are on the right path. Ziaiye school or Alexander’s Prison is right next to it.

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