The foggy 1000-year old town of Masuleh in the north west of Iran near the Caspian Sea is nestled into a steep mountainside of the Alborz range. Masuleh’s draw is not its clean crisp mountain air but its unique architecture and grey weather. The village climbs steeply over 100-metre incline, it is this elevation that necessitates the buildings to be interconnected. The step-like structure climbs abruptly with the roof of the building below acting as the courtyard of the building above. The resulting roofs and courtyards function as pedestrian areas and streets. Due to its unique layout it is the only city in Iran where vehicular traffic is completely prohibited.
Typically the exterior of the buildings are coated with a yellow clay, apparently this allows for better visibility in the fog. Traditionally the buildings were constructed from adobe mud-bricks, timber rods and clay, a dense layer of dried fern is applied between the mud and wood timbers in the ceiling to insulate against the cold and wet.
Masuleh’s moisture heavy weather is created by a constant supply of warm air blowing across the Caspian from the expansive steppe of Kazakhstan, the temperate air hits the Alborz mountains creating heavy precipitation. The locals kept reminding us that the slightly depressing damp cold weather was just like England! Strangely, for many Persians this area is the most desired part of the country due to its ‘great’ weather! Thousands of Iranians flock here from the nearby cities of Tehran, Rasht and Qazvin to experience ‘the damp’.