Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd; Architecture, Design and Construction History

Learn more about the Twelve Imam Tomb of Yazd and its history
The exterior view of the Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd
Learn more about the Twelve Imam Tomb of Yazd and its history
The exterior view of the Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd

Davazdah Imam Memorial (12-Imam Shrine) is the oldest standing building in Yazd city according to historical documents and construction evidence. The building dates back to the Seljuk period and possesses unique architectural features of that era. The presence of a dome vault, mihrab (altar), and several inscriptions in this historical work attracts a lot of attention. The twelve Imam tomb of Yazd was added to Iran National Heritage List in 1934 and is considered one of the must-visit Yazd Tourist Attractions.

This tomb is located in the Fahadan historical neighborhood of Yazd and near Fahadan Hosseinieh. Also, the mentioned tomb is located near The Historical Alexander’s Prison (Ziaiyeh School) of Yazd.

The Construction History of Davazdah Imam Memorial

The history of the Twelve Imam tomb dates back to the 11th century AD and the Seljuk period. The building was constructed at the same time as the Kakuyids’ rule. In this tomb, there is an inscription that mentions the two brothers Abu Masoud and Abu Yaqub as the benefactors of the building. They were among the generals of Amir Azod al-Din Alaa al-Dawlah Abu Jafar Kakuyeh.

Reason for the Construction of the Memorial

In the inscriptions found in the 12-Imam Shrine, this building is mentioned as the Qobbeh (dome). However, the reason for naming this tomb after twelve imams is still unknown. It is believed that this name has been customary since the Safavid period.

Some people think that the Twelve Imam tomb is attributed to one of the descendants of Imam Sadiq (AS). In some sources, it is mentioned that one of the descendants was buried in the Fahadan neighborhood. However, the exact location of the burial is unknown.

Others believe that this historical monument is a memorial built to commemorate the twelve imams of Jafari Shiites. It features the architectural style of a tomb, but there is no marked grave inside.

Other theories about the construction of this tomb lack any solid evidence.

Features of the Twelve Imam Tomb and its Architectural Style

The old inscription in the shrine of the Twelve Imams
The inscription above the altar of 12 Imam Shrine of Yazd

The Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd is a Chahartaq (four-arch) building that has entrances on three sides and is closed in the Qibla direction. Its entrance doors were located in three directions: North, East, and West. Over time, the east and west gates of this building were blocked.

Currently, the only entrance to this memorial is on the north side. Upon entering through the small door of the Tomb of the Twelve Imams, we see a Mihrab (altar) on the south side with tilework decorations.

The shrine’s altar features elegant decorations of azure, turquoise, green, yellow, and white tiles. Despite substantial damage, this altar’s beauty is still preserved. The history of the altar dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries AD and the Alid dynasty period. According to archeological studies, this mihrab belongs to an old mosque, over which the tomb of twelve imams was constructed.

In addition, the plasterwork on the altar requires further investigation. Some people attribute these plasterwork decorations to the Ilkhanate period.

The said altar features a tombstone made of marble and the color of jade, which has been stolen. In addition to that, in later periods, another tombstone attributed to Sheikh Fahadan was placed in this mihrab, but there is no trace of it today.

The Tomb of the Twelve Imams of Yazd has a dome vault. This dome vault is in the shape of a square with 11 meters sides. The length of the sides on the interior of the tomb reaches 8.25 meters. There is a small latticed window on one of the walls that is embedded to provide lighting and air conditioning.

A beautiful dome is installed on this dome vault. The remarkable feature of this dome is the lack of tilework decorations. This dome is placed on an octagonal structure, which transitions the round dome to the square building with this geometric shape.

The dome base architecture follows the squinch construction technique. In the squinch technique, the quadrilateral building transitions into an octagonal shape and more. In the Davazdah Imam Memorial, the base of the dome transitions from 4-sided to 8-sided, and then the dome is placed on this octagonal base. There are three false arches on each side of this octagon.

Inscriptions in the Twelve Imam Shrine

Decorative Kufic script inscription on the 12th tomb of Imam Yazd
One of the inscriptions in the tomb, in Kufic script

The 12-Imam Shrine has a total of 4 inscriptions that can be found in different areas:

  1. Inscription above the main entrance portal: A verse from the Quran is written on this inscription in Kufic script.
  2. East Gate Inscription: This inscription also contains a verse from the Quran.
  3. Colored tile inscription on the eastern wall of the building: an inscription is installed inside the mausoleum and on the eastern wall. On this inscription, the names of the builders are written in Kufic script.
  4. Dome inscription: This inscription is located at the base of the dome ring and features Ayat al-Kursi. Also, in one part of the inscription, there are the names of the architects and in another part, there is a verse from the Quran.
Decorative Kufic script inscription on the tomb of Imam 12 of Yazd
A view of another old inscription in the 12 Imam Shrine of Yazd

Visit the Davazdah Imam Memorial in Yazd

This memorial is a very elegant building with unique features that you can visit. One of the prominent features of this building is its dome, which is uniquely attractive with its simplistic design.

If you travel to Yazd on an Iran tour package or personally, do not miss visiting this tomb. Destination Iran invites you to visit the 12-Imam Shrine when visiting the tourist attractions of Yazd.

Where is the Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd?

Twelve Imam tomb is located on Imam Khomeini Street in Yazd City, inside the Fahadan historical neighborhood. Fahadan Hosseinieh and Ziaiyeh School or Alexander’s Prison are other tourist attractions near this memorial. You can see the location of Iskandar prison near this tomb below:

Frequently Asked Questions About the Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd

To find answers to your other questions, you can contact us through the comments section of this post. We will answer your questions as soon as possible.

What is the important feature of the 12-Imam shrine?

The unique feature of the Tomb of the Twelve Imams is its history, which dates back to the Seljuk period. This tomb is the oldest standing building in Yazd City and the second-oldest dome in Iran.

What is the oldest monument in Yazd?

The oldest building in Yazd is the Twelve Imam Tomb, which was built in 1037 AD, during the Seljuk period.

What are the architectural features of the Twelve Imam Memorial of Yazd?

The architectural style of this tomb is of a mausoleum type, But there is no tomb in it. The Davazdah Imam Memorial of Yazd is a four-arch building. The tile worked altar of the shrine dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries AD, the Alid era. That is why it is believed that this tomb was built on the remains of an old mosque. The dome vault of the Twelve Imam Tomb of Yazd is square with a dome on top of the octagonal middle structure.

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