If you’ve been to Iran, you wouldn’t have missed a bite of their amazing gourd harvest. Their sweet, luscious watermelons and crisp, savory cucumbers are definitely to die for. Their secret? They grow their fruit with special pigeon dung!

Pigeons are highly revered in Iran, dating back to ancient Persian civilization where they were used as messengers by high officials. The city of Isfahan deeply relied on the supply of guano to improve their watermelon yields and leather tanning processes.

In order to provide a decent housing for their avian pets, the ancient Persians erected thousands of elaborately constructed pigeon towers standing more than 20 meters high. Each tower can accommodate up to 14,000 birds in shoebox-sized units. The towers are skillfully designed with arched and zigzag patterns near the top to prevent snakes from breaking in and are even painted the pigeon’s favorite color: terracotta.

Today, only about 700 pigeon towers are left scattered along the Zayandeh River, used only by a few traditional gourd-growing farms for their world-class produce.

 

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

[AdsWithin]
Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr

Photo by JoaoleitaoTRAVEL via Flickr