Qajar-era ice storage turns into heritage museum

March 4, 2021
finance & economytourism

TEHRAN –A Qajar-era (1789–1925) traditional Yakhchal (mudbrick ice storage) in the north-central city of Garmsar, Semnan province has been turned into a museum.

Yakhchal-e Qatul was used to supply ice slabs to the neighboring towns and villages for decades, the provincial tourism chief has said.

As the museums play a big part in introducing and promoting each region’s culture as well as attracting more tourists, and to preserve the historical structure more properly, it has been repurposed into a museum, Mehdi Jamal announced on Tuesday.

A budget of 1.4 billion rials (about $33,000 at the official exchange rate of 42,000 rials per dollar) has been allocated to the project, which was carried out in collaboration with the private sector, the official added.

The Yakhchal of Qatul has been inscribed on the National Heritage list.

When there was no electricity, no refrigerators, and no appliances, people kept a huge amount of water next to the high walls of Yakhchal, which cast a shadow that kept the water cool.

The water turned into ice during the wintertime. Then people cut the ice into many portable parts and put them in the ice house and covered the surface of the ice with special local grass.

The structure is built high to minimize the contact of warm air with the ice surface as the warm air floats upwards. The feature of the ice storage was essential to its functioning.

There were also wells behind the ice storages with a connective canal at the bottom of the ice storage to the wells with a slight slope.

When people piled up the ice, a little amount of water remained under the heap of ice. If the water was not removed it would make the rest of the ice melt. By channeling the water into the well, not only did they prevent the ice stored in the ice house from melting, but also they had cold and tasty water during summer months when the weather went up to 40 degrees Celsius.



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