Thursday, December 10, 2009

Vakil Bazaar


Vakil Bazaar is the main bazaar of Shiraz and is located in the historical center of the city in Darb’e Shahzadeh near the Vakil Mosque. It displays a beautiful architecture with wide corridors and high ceilings along with openings which allow air circulation and penetration of light. It extends from near the Esfahan Gate to where the Bazaars of the old city of Shiraz begin, and it comprises arched alcoves with wide platforms in between, and seventy four high and well proportioned arches sustaining the roof. There is a high domed crossing, where the east and west bazaars diverge from the main bazaar. Several of the main arches, and a number of intervening alcoves of the Vakil Bazaar, which were used as shops, were demolished when the Zand Avenue was extended eastwards.


The Vakil Bazaar was constructed of yellow bricks following the design of the earlier royal bazaar in Isfahan. It has five entrances with two rows of shops (Hojreh), situated north-south and east-west direction and perpendicular to each other. The floor of these shops are elevated about 70 centimeters from the street level, leaving a shelf in front of the shops running in all the length of the street. This shelf is about 1 meter wide. The Bazaar has beautiful courtyards, caravansarays, bath houses, and old shops which are deemed among the best places in Shiraz to buy all kinds of Persian rugs, spices, copper handicrafts and antiques. Like other Middle Eastern Bazaars there are a few numbers of mosques and Imamzadehs constructed adjacent or behind the Bazaar.


Previously a functional and giant marble pool used to exist in the middle of the bazaar with its water being provided from the western wing of the bazaar. Gradually and as a result of the floor of the bazaar being brought up the pool is no longer in place. The tall ceilings of the bazaar combined with some simple wind towers enables the purification and steady flow of fresh air in the bazaar. Originally there were many more openings on the roof which allowed fresh air and light to penetrate the bazaar although as a result of renovations many of such openings have now been sealed and perforated openings above the shops have been put in place.


Some believe that the market originally was established by the Buwayhids, and was completed mainly by the Atabaks of Fars, and only was renamed after Karim Khan Zand in the 18th century. Others believe that the Zand monarch, after seeing the ancient Bazaar dating from the time of Shah Abbas, laid out the design of the long finely-planned Bazaar in Shiraz, which is one of the best of the late Vakil's monuments.


In 2005 Shiraz’s entire underground railway project plan was being reconsidered. Examinations proved that the soil in areas where Shiraz historical context is situated was not firm enough and digging tunnels could result in serious damage to ancient structures in the area. Other than the Vakil Bazaar, other areas that would be affected include historical public baths, old houses, and Karim Khan Citadel.






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