Wind-Catchers: Over 3000-Year-Old Air Conditioners in Iran

Wind-catchers, also known as wind towers or badgirs, were traditional Persian architectural elements used for ventilation before the invention of modern air conditioners. These towers often worked together with qanats which were underground channels that transferred water from a well to the surface. A wind-catcher has openings that face the wind and “catch” it, creating an airflow inside the structure. When combined with a qanat, the air is drawn into the qanat channel and contacts with the cool earth and cold water. Then, the cooled air is pushed out through the openings on the opposite side of the wind tower, creating airflow and cooling the air.

Samuel Bailey

Although these structures also exist around the other North African deserts, the discovery of a similar chimney-like structure with no trace of ashes among the ruins of a 3000 BC Persian fire temple credits Persians as the inventors of wind-catchers. Meanwhile, some other archaeologists suggest that Egyptians were the inventors of wind towers due to the paintings dating from around 1300 BC and depicting two triangular towers atop Pharaoh Nebamun’s royal residence.

Ab Anbars around Yazd

The historic city of Yazd had a large network of qanats that required an air conditioning system due to Yazd’s arid and hot climate. Thus, ab anbars came into being. An ab anbar, meaning cistern, is a traditional drinking water reservoir in Iran. Although some ab anbars in Iran do not have wind catchers if the climate is cool, they frequently utilize one to six wind towers to cool the water.

Ab Anbar, Aqda District @elamasadi
Haft Badgiri by eduartgranada

Chopoghi Wind-Catcher in Sirjan, Kerman Province


The Ab Anbar at Ganj-Ali Khan Complex in Kerman

Bernard Gagnon

Aghazadeh Mansion in Abarkooh

The wind-catcher in the Aghazadeh Mansion is one of the finest ones in the world. The mansion dates from the Qajar era (1789-1925).


The Wind-Catcher of Dowlat Abad Garden in Yazd

Measuring 33,8 meters in height, the 18th-century wind-catcher in the Dowlat Abad Garden is the tallest of its examples in Iran.