If you know Kashan by its historical houses, if you know Yazd by its windmills, and if you remember Isfahan by its wonderful mosques, the thing that you should remember Qazvin by its ab anbars (cistern). The magnificent variety and dimensions of these buildings makes you feel amazed. In this article, IranTrawell is going to give you some details about unique features of these historical structures.
The reason behind building Ab Anbars in Qazvin
They say that innovation and creativity has a direct relationship with limitations. Despite Qazvin’s strategic location, its presence in the Alborz Mountains and commercial routes during different historical periods, it was always faced with the problem of water shortage. This restriction made the city’s water management system one of the pioneers of its time. Cisterns are one of the most important elements of water management in this ancient city that fills the city with its indescribable diversity.
Qazvin city has no permanent rivers but there are several seasonal rivers along the flood path. However, despite the excess water during winter and fall, there is no water there during dry seasons. Management of excess water have been done well since the Sassanid era. The traditional gardens of Qazvin that surrounds the city were responsible for both flood control and Qazvin’s agricultural production.
However, the problem of water shortage in the dry seasons was remained. The aqueducts were the only means of supplying water throughout the city even during the summer, but with the expansion of the city and population growth, especially during the Safavid period that Qazvin was the capital of Safavid dynasty for fifty years, the aqueducts could no longer supply the needs. This is when the issue of water shortage has become much more serious.
The structure of Ab Anbar
Cisterns were developed into two types of indoor cisterns and public cisterns. Their stricter included two general sections, the storage tank and the access path. A faucet connected these two parts. The access path had many potencies for architectural arts like tilings, epigraphs, muqarnas works and other decorations that show the architect’s conversancy. The storage tank part of the cistern has many variations like dome-shaped, flat, with separated windshields or without windshields.
Cisterns are Iran’s native monuments and they are one of the most prominent monuments of traditional Iranian neighborhoods. They were usually considered the most prominent building in their neighborhood in terms of architecture. In Qazvin, which was a neighborhood-based city, depending on population, they built cisterns with 3800-5000 cubic meters’ capacity. Sardar-e Bozorg, Sardar-e Kochak, Jameh Mosque and Haj Kazem cisterns are the most famous cisterns of Qazvin. Most of these cisterns have been rebuilt in recent years with the help of Qazvin Cultural Heritage and Crafts Organization and now they are open to the public.
Iranian cisterns are not the largest ones in the world neither the first of them. The cisterns in Iran are part of a unique water management system that people paid particular attention to them because of water’s undeniable importance. Due to peoples religious beliefs, the water that they use must be pure and clean, so this is another reason why water management system always had a great importance among Iranian people. The difference between the Iranian water management system and other examples in ancient history is that its Iranian model is still usable and efficient and if you use it properly, it can still deliver clean water of surrounding plains to the city and store it for several months. If you are interested about ab anbars, you can read more about Iranian water management system. The secret behind why water in these cisterns remains clean is that they use chemical and physical tricks simultaneously to improve water quality. Below you can see some of them.
When the capacity of the cistern reaches its maximum and it is fully filled with water, they add some salt to the water to improve its odor and taste. They also add a little lime for disinfection.
Inside of the tank is very cool thanks to the thickness of the body and its special type of roof (it has no pores) and on the other hand there are ventilators that fresheners the air. Generally, the cisterns have a particular type of architecture that is responsible for cooling the air inside of it. The circulation of air inside the cistern and the corrugated walls of it prevents stasis of the water and prevents it from spoiling.
Therefore, tanks of cisterns are a good place to store water and the major factors of spoil (air, light and heat) are mostly prevented by their special architecture. Therefore, the water can be stored in the tanks for a long time.