TO DO Award 2020 Esfahk Historic Village, Iran
In South Khorasan Province, in the East of Iran, a devastating earthquake in 1978 destroyed many traditional mud houses, including the desert village of Esfahk, close to the important route from Birjand to Tabas.
Once their village was destroyed, the surviving villagers, with the support of the Iranian government, rebuilt an entirely new Esfahk village (800 inhabitants), just two hundred metres away from the “old” village, using solid stone and concrete. However, they refrained from razing their old village to the ground.
One the one hand, there were too many painful memories connected with it. On the other hand, the survivors of the disaster, today’s elderly generation, kept romanticising their ”beautiful life“ in the historical village of Esfahk when talking about it with the younger villagers born after the earthquake. The village was surrounded by a date palm grove that still exists, and by gardens and fields, at the feet of the ”camel mountains” with altitudes of up to 3,000 metres.
“Then let us turn what was bad into something good“, decided today’s generation of well-educated villagers now in their 30s and 40s and founded a village committee in 2009 to carefully rebuild the old village, taking the reconstruction into their own hands.
After many years of deliberations and with the know-how of architects, urban planners, and tourism experts from Tehran and Mashad, but without involving external investors, this younger generation managed to create a cultural and historical gem that can be used for tourism amidst the ruins of the former village.
In the meantime, seven guest houses were built or renovated (with up-to date technical knowledge for earthquake preparedness) in the old mud house style, in addition to the traditional mosque and the former hammam. There is an excellent restaurant offering local dishes, a café, a reception, and a handicraft shop. All are facilities in which men and women found a/their local job, take responsibility and as a team are excellent hosts, receiving about 3,500 over night guests annually, both domestic and international.
The Ceremony of the TO DO Awards 2020 will take place at ITB 2021.
Province South Khorasan,
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