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Grouo pf men practingin pahlevani, an ancient discipline performing gymnastic combined with martial arts.
Photo by MehmetO /

Watch pahlevani in a zurkhaneh

For travellers looking for insight into traditional Iranian and Yazd culture, pahlevani is the perfect experience

Originating centuries ago during the Persian Empire, pahlevani is an ancient sport that combines gymnastic performance with martial arts. At first it was used to train Persian warriors, but over the years it was adapted and is now practiced as a form of exercise in a special gym called a zurkhaneh.

Located just north of Amir Chaqmargh Square is the famous Saheb Al-Zaman Zurkhaneh, which is the best place in Yazd to see a demonstration. Give yourself two hours to check out the zurkhaneh and one of the three pahlevani performances each day. Watch as the men coordinate fancy footwork to intense drumming and poetry that rings through the domed arena.

To best appreciate the athletes' abilities, you can try to yield one of the athletes' heavy clubs yourself. Known as 'meels', they are swung during the pahlevani exercises to improve strength and mobility. While it might look easy, even the lightest meels are hard to use by untrained athletes.

After the performance, continue to explore Saheb Al-Zaman Zurkhaneh and visit the water reservoir underneath the building. This impressive structure was used to cool and store water in the desert. Closely tied to the early success of Yazd and the traditional pahlevani exercise, the water reservoir is an important structure for the Yazd community.


Watch pahlevani in a zurkhaneh


6am-9PM Saturday-Thursday
Closed on Fridays


50.000 Rials