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Alexander’s Prison (Ziyaiyeh School)

Alexander’s Prison (Ziyaiyeh School)


Alexander’s Prison (Ziyaiyeh School)

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Alexander’s Prison was established by the famous scholar, Zia al-Din Hossein Reza which is located in the historic city of Yazd in Yazd province. There are different opinions about whether the function of this monument was school or prison in written history books. For example, it has been mentioned that there was a special place in the Safavid era which is called "Alexander’s Prison" which was one of the most important buildings. By referring to this information, this construction is attributed to Alexander’s Prison. This building was a very specific and impressive building in the Safavid era. However, it is unknown who built this monument and when it was built by the proponents of this idea.
On the other hand, Dr. Mohammad Karim Pirnia attributes this complex to the Ziyaiyeh school. This school was built by Zia al-Din Hossein in 1252 and completed by his sons in 1326.
In addition, some believe that Alexander’s Prison and Ziyaiyeh School as two separated and dependent buildings. Therefore, it becomes very difficult to judge which building is Alexander’s prison. 
This complex includes a mezzanine, a porch, a dome and several rooms, which dome can be considered as the only remaining part of the Salghurids era. The schoolyard is rectangular in shape and has high porches. The porch on the west side of the building is higher than the two otehr sides. There are pavilions on both sides of the porches.
The north side porch opens into a small courtyard surrounded by small rooms above. Above the final room located on the northeast side, there is a windcatcher that can still be used today. On the east side of the building, there is a covered rectangular room with a dome which the entrance is blocked these days. In the north porch, there are the remains of two mihrabs and in the south porch, there is a high mihrab. 


Dome features

This dome is located on the southwest side and is made of clay and bricks in some parts. The plan of the dome is square in shape and the size of each side is 8.9 meters. The semicircular dome is lying down and its corners are constructed on high walls of the building by four-sided squiches, turning the quadrangular plan into octagonal, then hexagonal, and finally circular. In this type of squinch, the weight on the dome is not transferred to the corners. In fact, the dome of Ziyaiyeh School is the best example of a simple squinch with an arch.




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