Iran’s Modernized Antiquity – The Underground City of Kariz

Iran’s Modernized Antiquity – The Underground City of Kariz

Discretely tucked away under the Earth’s surface and out of the sight of by passers, the underground city of Kariz is quite a unique and attractive destination to visit on Kish Island, Iran. It was initially constructed as an underground aqueduct system some 2,500 years ago and was used by the inhabitants of ancient Harireh City. These ancient water systems are called qanat. Having been made obsolete due to modernized water distribution and filtration systems, this 10,000 meters squared qanat has been rediscovered and transformed. Come along with goingIRAN to learn and discover more about this destination.

Underground City of Kariz on Kish Island
The Underground City of Kariz

The Underground Kariz, Before the City

Using a three-step filtration process this qanat, also known as a kariz, utilizes the water from interconnected wells spanning across a 14km squared area. Not having any pumps, the ancients used the principles of differential pressure and gravity to transport water many kilometers through the canals. Upon entering the central filter shaft, the water would meet the first filter layer, coral gravel. This filter would separate the bigger pieces of debris and neutralize the water’s acidity. The following layer was comprised of coral grit and clay, which filtered the finer solids. The very last layer consisted of a special clay, named marn, which filtered the finest remaining particles and made the water suitable for drinking. The best water, then, being at the deepest level, was accessible by small water-collection boats through special tunnels.

Underground City of Kariz In Iran
Underground City of Kariz on Kish Island

Kariz City’s Origins

Interestingly, Kariz was long abandoned and forgotten about by the people of Kish Island. It was only around 1999 when the island began a project to make an underground shopping center when it popped back into the spotlight. The developers thought that they could integrate a shopping center into the ancient qanat system, rather than tear down and replace it. The hybrid complex we see today is truly a magnificent blend of modern and ancient architecture. What was a completely unused and forgotten about gem, has been turned into a very unique subterranean world! The current structure of the kariz more resembling an underground town rather than a plain water canal, is what earned it its new name, the Underground City of Kariz.

Visiting Kariz, the Underground City

Aside from featuring various displays of ancient tools and artifacts, the modern hybridized version of this qanat also houses a plethora of souvenir shops, restaurants, teahouses, conference centers, art galleries and even an amphitheater! On top of all the modernity, tourists and travelers of this destination can also still be a witness to the functioning of the aqueduct system. After all of its years, the kariz is, again, being used to filter water; now mainly for irrigation purposes. If you are visiting Kish Island, this is a definite must-see attraction. Don’t forget your camera!

City/Town: Kish Island
Address: Kariz underground, Mirmolana st., Olympic Sq
Operating Days: Every day
Operating Hours: 9َam. to 9pm.
Neighbourhood: Green tree park – Olympic village – Harireh Ancient city

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