Alexander Prison or Ziyaeeieh School (Madresseh Ziyaeeieh) is a school belongs to eight centuries ago situated in one of the oldest quarters of Yazd. It is an ancient domed structure apparently known by this name as a result of a reference in a Hafez poem. The complex contains a deep, circular, brick-lined pit almost 10 meters in diameter resembling an ancient dungeon found at the heart of the old. There is also a well and some nooks in the courtyard.
It is alleged by some to have been built by Alexander to hold his captives during his conquest of Persia and alleged by others to have been built by the Persians to hold Alexander himself. There is another possibility that the prison remains one of Alexander’s family homes and dome Razi remaining monument was their graves. The other possibility is that it was built in the period when Alexander the Great attacked Iran and built the structure as a prison and later it was converted to a school. Eskandar (Alexander) Prison is currently advertised as been built as a mosque and Ziaiyeh religious school and to have connection to Alexander (although the reference is believed to have come from Hafez’s poetry). The original purpose of the building is unknown but it now serves as an Ethnographic Museum. Whatever the true story, the complete complex itself is almost certainly a later construction.
There are three porches around its yard and a dome which is about eighteen meters. The dome of Eskandar (Alexander) Prison is made of raw clay and is decorated with plaster works and golden and azure watercolor. The noteworthy architectural features of the dome are traceable in other domes dating to the Mongolian period in Iran. Each side of the domed tower is almost 9 meters long. There is little left of the inscriptions inside the dome but from what remains it appears to be Kufic writing. There is a water well which terminates to a cellar. The depth of this water well is two meters. This dome is beautifully ornamented with stucco and golden and cobalt-blue watercolor.
The material used in much of the building is clay; however, it has been restored with bricks in the past few decades. Some steep stairs lead the way down into the dungeon although nowadays it is a beautiful room decorated with tables and red carpets and serves as a tea house.
The nearby 11th-century brick tomb of the 12 Imams is almost next door. The inscriptions inside boast the names of each of the Shiite Imams, none of whom are buried here.
Eskandar (Alexander) Prison is a registered Iranian National Heritage. In recent years, the complex has attracted and increasing number of tourists for Norooz.
Tomb of 12 Imams
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