Construction of aqueducts (Kariz) has been monopolized by the Iranian and as it dates back six thousand years, Iranians can be attributed to owners of Kariz. Kariz is the Persian word of aqueducts and it has been used to conduct underground water in the past.
Given the fact that aqueducts usually start from the altitudes and then arrive the mouth of the aqueduct (Mazhar), the manifestation of the glory of Kish aqueduct with two thousand-year age and a maximum height of forty-five meters is unique. Considering that Kish island does not have much height, drilling and construction of the two-thousand-year aqueduct by the creative Iranians in the layer of marl shows the importance and value of this aqueduct more than ever before.
Kish old aqueduct with over fifteen kilometers length turns into three branches of aqueducts- from the two areas of Seffin and Baghoo to the current location of Kish cultural-tourism underground city- and then pours into the ancient city Harireh. Along the path of this old aqueduct, there are a large number of wells to get water from that indicates the moving water has flown to the mouth of the aqueduct (Mazhar).
The subterranean water, in the past, was consumed for uses such as irrigation of green areas as well as drinking. Ships also used the island water for consumption, sale or for exchange with other goods in the countries around the Persian Gulf.
Kariz fresh water results from seasonal rainfall of the island that flows through coral as a natural filter, and then through the layer of marl mud. Marl mud is a type of clay which is naturally soft and flexible and if exposed to air, it can become dry and firm. In order to protect this precious marl mud in the Kish cultural-tourism underground city (Kariz), a row of walls have been constructed in front of it.
Marl mud is used with additional compounds for the production of bricks, pitchers and cement, in addition to its therapeutic uses such as joint pains.
Regarding kariz, the remarkable thing is that the aqueducts have been drilled masterfully and skillfully by the ancient Iranians; and with a gentle gradient, along with their fifteen-Kilometer path, the water was not only used for irrigation but also there was the possibility of getting water out with an object similar to a pail (Dalv).
Kariz mouths (Mazhar or Payab) were the areas which enabled the removal of water from the aqueducts. There were six mouths along the Kariz path one of which is now available and visible in Kish cultural-tourism underground city. In the past, the natives of Kish island supplied their drinking water from this place. These mouths (Payab) date back more than 800 years.
In the distant past, especially the fifth and sixth centuries Hijri when Kish Island was the trade center of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, its drinking water was of very high value for consumption in the countries around Persian Gulf.
Kariz coral with a diameter of seven meters, which once was the seabed, is full of shells and species of fish which are now fossilized and visible in the coral of Kish cultural-tourism underground city.
Experiments done at the University of Munich, Germany, on fossils and the results obtained from the coral ceiling of the underground tunnel indicate that the ceiling is between 53 to 570 million years old. Information on different types of fossils will be exhibited in the museum of Kish underground city (Kariz) In the future. If you look more closely at the fossils when visiting, you’ll see a turtle that has been perpetuated from 570 million years ago.
Due to the unique characteristics of the Kish underground city (Kariz) including the coral islands, fresh water aqueducts, cool air under the ground and coral ceiling filled with ancient fossils, this underground city is on the list of the world’s most important buildings.
Descriptions on Kish cultural-tourism Underground City (Kariz)
Kariz is simply the aqueduct of more than five thousand years old, which was invented by Iranians to use underground water. Kariz with more than two thousand years and with fresh water from seasonal rainfall which for years has been the source of water supply both on Kish island and in the neighboring countries of the Persian Gulf, was drilled at a depth of 14 meters in the area of the coral island in layers of marl. Its length is 15 km and it was used for irrigation as well as drinking by the residents of Kish island in the past.
In addition, ships passing the island used the water for their consumption as well as selling it to coastal residents of the Persian Gulf, or alternatively exchanging the water with other goods.
If you look overhead when visiting Kariz, it is as if you walk beneath the open sky full of the stars of marine fossils formed millions of years ago at the hands of the Creator.
In the following, you are provided with more information on different parts of the Kish underground city.
Along the fifteen-kilometer path of Kariz, 274 wells were drilled to access the fresh water of the aqueducts among which 74 wells are located in the Kish cultural-tourism underground city. If you look at the ceiling, you will see one of the wells which has recently been created in the form of a cone coral in the coral layer with a thickness of seven meters.
Fresh water from seasonal rainfall of the island which passes through coral simply acts as a natural filter and is stored in the layer of marl and then flows through the drain of aqueducts.
In 1378, a new design for the cultural-tourism underground city was proposed by the project investor with three goals (fresh water of the aqueduct, cool and mild air, and fossil texture of coral). Here are two features of Kariz:
- cool and temperate air of the aqueducts which is between 22 and 25 ° C throughout the year.
- Coral ceiling with a diameter of seven meters, which was once the seabed, is full of shells and species of fish that is now seen in the form of fossils.
This aqueduct (Kariz) was built in the heart of coral reefs at a depth of 14 meters by workers toiling and using tools such as hatchets and axes, whose works are now visible in the Kariz coral ceiling. The old aqueduct, which was only a hole to conduct fresh water, has been preserved; and then at the top of Kariz you will see a cultural-tourist complex constructed in such a way that along with it you can learn about Iranian traditional architecture through places such as the market, museum and traditional restaurant.
For years, Kariz was abandoned and forgotten. Mr. Haji Hosseini, an Iranian engineer who lived in Germany, in the year 1378 and after 32 years being away from home, departed to Iran studying and analyzing this abandoned dilapidated aqueduct at the 14-meter depth of coral reefs. Then he founded the cultural-tourism complex with his private investment and designed it using Persian traditional architecture. He also defined the construction project in three phases, which now is in the second half of phase two.
In Kish Kariz, you have the opportunity to work with different layers of soil at a depth of 14 meters from the ground level:
- Coral ceilings- with the diameter of seven meters- in which is home to many fossils.
- Koprak soil layer with the thickness of about 2 meters under a coral layer, which is consisting of a mixture of coral and Marn.
- The rest is called marl which can be seen leading to deep sea.
Marl mud is a type of micronized clay which is normally soft and flexible, and if one third of its volume, which is water, is lost then it starts to crack. In order to protect this precious marl, the wall was constructed in front of it to retain its moisture. Also with walls and arcs which were built in the Iranian-tradition style, we intended to take visitors to the traditions and history of more than 3000 years old.
Properties of Marl
Marl has healing properties and a clinic of therapeutic mud will be built for visitors in Kariz in not too distant future.
It also should be noted that Naqsh-e Rustam is a design project that will be carved on the aqueduct walls in the future so that the history of Iran will be displayed along the corridors. At the end of the track and behind the rock wall on the left, there will be waterways (A) to pass around. In the third phase of this complex, visitors riding on the boat in the waterway will know about the story of Rostam. These kinds of boats, which can be speed-controlled in this waterway, are built so that visitors, with sufficient concentration as well as the play of sound and light, will learn about the story of Rostam; and at the end of the waterway they can see the play of this story performed live.
Mouths of Aqueduct (Payab) and Museum
There are 6 mouths of aqueduct (Mazhar or Payab). One of them in front of which you are standing now is 800 years old. The steps also have been cleaned and preserved. The dimensions of the well above your head is larger than the other wells due to sufficient supply of light and air.
Visit to Museum
In the museum which has been created with an area of over 280 square meters the test results conducted on fossils in Munich, Germany, are exhibited with their birth certificates containing information on fossil age and their scientific name as well as various geological periods.
There is also detailed information on the Persian Gulf and Kish island such as the emergence of the island, culture, natural and historical geography, vegetation, water and climatic resources. The most important part of the museum includes old documents and maps that illustrate the Persian Gulf has always belonged to Iran.
It should be also noted that Mr. Haji Hussaini has attempted to make this special project with his private investment and based on a mixture of traditional and modern design. In the future, a number of places such as entrance hall, cinema, pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater, two ancient castles, kid’s site and childcare center, hotels and residential suites as well as an Iranian garden will be built in an area of 63,000 square meters on the ground. In the Iranian garden, different Persian ethnicities with ethnic costumes and folk music will be introduced and also traditional plays will be performed live for visitors.