Posts Tagged Persia

Wonders Of Iran: The Black Church


Qareh Kelisa which literally means Black church is an ancient monument perched on a mountain ridge in the northern Iranian province of West Azarbaijan. Also known as the holy Tadi among the Armenians, was built between 4 & 6 century AD over Saint Tatavoos’s mausoleum, an apostle who achieved martyrdom in 48 AD for advocating Christianity.

As one of the oldest and most notable surviving Christian monuments of Iran, Qara Kelisa carries great significance for the country’s Armenian Orthodox community.

Armenians hold that Qara Kelisa is the world’s first church and was constructed in 68 CE by one of the apostles of Jesus, Saint Thaddeus, who traveled to Armenia, then part of the Persian Empire, to preach the teachings of Christ.

Located south of the city of Maku, the massive church can be seen against the natural background of rolling hills; its cuspidate tambours catches the eye of beauty-seekers.

An ancient chapel two kilometers northwest of Qara Kelisa is said to have been the place where the first Christian woman, Sandokh, was martyred. The chapel is believed to be as old as the Black Church.

 Throughout the course of history Qara Kelisa sustained damage and was repaired a number of times.

 A large part of the monument was destroyed during the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. The Persian scientist Khajeh Nasir ad-Din Tousi oversaw its reconstruction during the reign of the Mongol ruler, Hulagu Khan.

 Much of the existing structure dates back to the 19th century when the Qajar prince Abbas Mirza renovated the monument using carved sandstone.

 Apart from the Armenian architectural elements visible in the structure of Qara Kelisa, another remarkable feature of the historical church is its spatial layout, which resembles that of the Echmiazin Cathedral in Armenia.

 Armenians, Assyrians and Catholics visit Qara Kelisa every year to perform religious rituals.

Every year scores of Armenians, Assyrians and Catholics from Iran and other countries visit the church to commemorate the martyrdom of Saint Thaddeus and his faithful followers.

 The cruciform building is surmounted by two pyramidal shaped cupolas, the shorter of which has light and dark colored horizontal bands on the drum.

 The church is composed of two parts: a black structure, the original building of the church and a white structure, the main church, which was added to the original building’s western wing in 1810 CE.

 The original church is a domed sanctuary built largely of dark-colored stone, probably dating to the tenth or eleventh century, from which its name Qara Kelisa is derived.

 The main church, built in 1811-1820 is a massive structure, built of light sandstone and adorned with blind arches and decorative and geometric shapes.

 Its twelve-sided tambour has been built in alternating light- and dark-colored stones and has an equal number of windows.

 The church has two large courtyards, the first of which seems to have been used for agricultural purposes, while the second encircles the white structure, the portico, and a number of rooms.

 The first courtyard includes oil-extracting rooms, a miniature windmill, an oven, and a fountain. It is decorated with ornamental motifs and two intricately designed stone crucifixes.

 A small door opens to the second courtyard where the refectory and the kitchen along with rooms for resident monks and abbots are located.

 The portico, which has been left unfinished, dates back to the mid 19th century.

 The building’s exterior is adorned with five rows of alternating dark and light stones as well as numerous round and blind arches, decorated with rosettes, coats-of-arms, flowers and animal figures.

 Statues of angels adorn the front facade of the church and its northern and southern facades are decorated with dark-colored stone crucifixes.

 Sculptured bas-reliefs bearing passages from the Old and New Testaments, mythical animals and effigies of saints have added to the beauty of the monument.

 In the eastern part of the complex, there is a chapel and a sacristy hall. An Armenian inscription, carved on stone, gives an account of the construction of the buildings.
Another stone inscription can be seen on the front of the old portal, bearing the date when the monument was reconstructed by Abbas Mirza Qajar.

 Qara Kelisa has been registered as the ninth Iranian historical-cultural heritage site on the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

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The magic of nature in Ordibehesht!

Photos by: Flo14wer (Dove of Peace)

Nature is my teacher.  She unfolds her treasures to my search, unseals my eye, illumes my mind, and purifies my heart, an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. I can enjoy society in a room, but out of doors, nature is company enough for me.

Nature is my medicine. The most inspired I ever feel is after experiencing the power of nature. I am most moved come spring when the colors jump off the landscape and captivate the soul. Spring in Iran is so magical. Flowers really do intoxicate me.

In the Zoroastrian calendar, the third day of the month and the second month of the year are dedicated to and named after aša and Asha Vahishta (called Ordibehesht in Modern Persian both in Iranian Calendar and Yazdgerdi calendar).

Ordibehesht means truth and purity.

The names of the 12 Persian months are taken from the ancient Zoroastrian texts and the origins are deeply rooted in their belief system.  This was the religion of Iran before the advent of Islam in seventh century AD. Zoroastrians believed in two primal forces, good and evil. Everything that supported and enriched life was good and all that threatened life and disturbed order was bad. The Lord of Wisdom (Ahura Mazda) created goodness and the Hostile Spirit (Angra Mainyu) created all that was bad (Ahriman in modern Persian).

The doctrine of holy immortals is central to understanding Zoroastrianism. The six manifest the qualities and attributes of Ahura Mazda and can bestow these qualities upon righteous humans. Vohu Manah (Bahman) represents “Good Purpose”, Asha Vahishta (Ordibehesht) means “Best Righteousness” and Spenta Armaiti (Espand) personifies “Holy Devotion”. Khshathra Vairya (Shahrevar) is “Desirable Dominion” and represents the power each person needs to exert righteousness in life. The final pair are Haurvatat and Ameretat, heath and long life (Khordad and Amordad). The six are the names of six of the months in modern Persian calendar. Not only they represent different aspects of the Wise God but each one is also responsible for protecting one of the creations.

Shahrevar is lord of the sky, and Espand protects mother earth. Khordad protects water and health and plants belong to Amordad. Bahman guarded all animals and was a powerful symbol of creative goodness while Ordibehesht became guardian of fire. Finally man with his intelligence and power of choice, belongs to Ahura Mazda.

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Prince of Persia : The Sands of Time

Like many, I became a fan of this franchise with the Sands of Time trilogy, and I was very excited when I learned that there were plans to make a feature film based on it. The storyline of the game is very cinematic (at least in the aforementioned trilogy, not necessarily in the previous games in the series) so I felt that at film adaptation would be an impressive epic.

Having finally seen this movie, I can say that Prince of Persia was an immensely enjoyable movie.

The visuals in this movie are stunning. Everything from the cinematography of the desert landscapes to the city of Alamut and the beautiful sets are a real treat to look at.

There was some historical inaccuracy, but I will rate it 6/10, for the story, direction, art, architecture, music, actors, …

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Pearl Of The Desert

Ancient castle in Rayen – Iran
The history of human settlements in the territory of Kerman dates back to the 4th millennium BC. This area is considered as one of the ancient regions of Iran and valuable historical vestiges have been discovered here. Jiroft is an example, where a previously unknown settlement dating back to around 2500BC has just been established by archeologists. Kerman has an abundance of historical sites and landmarks, 283 in total, according to Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization. Ancient abandoned citadels such as Arg-é Bam and Rayen castle have been preserved in the desert for two thousand years.
Rayen is a city in Kerman (province). Rayen is everything Bam used to be before the earthquake. Rayen has a historic Arg (fortress) built entirely of sun-dried mud bricks. Its historic city has countless mudbrick houses, some of them unfortunately decaying, but it is this decaying charm that makes the city even more attractive.
Arg-e Rayen was inhabited until 150 years ago and, although believed to be at least thousands years old, may in fact have foundations from the pre-Islamic Sassanid era.
The planning and architecture of the citadel are thought out from different points of view. From the present form of the citadel one can see that the planner(s) had foreseen the entire final form of the building and city from the first steps in the planning process. During each phase of building development the already-built part enjoyed a complete figure, and each additional part could be “sewn” into the existing section seamlessly.
The citadel is situated in the center of the fortress-city, on the point with widest view for security. When the gate of the city was closed, no human or animal could enter. The inhabitants could continue living for a long period of time in isolation as they had access to a well, gardens, and domestic animals inside. When the fortress-city was besieged the inhabitants could remain in the city while the soldiers could defend it, protected by high walls and towers.
All buildings are made of non-baked clay bricks, i.e. adobes. Bam Citadel was, prior to the 2003 earthquake, the biggest adobe structure in the world and then Rayen Castle (Arg-é Rayen).

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Sky – The Amazing South

All the pictures were taken in the south of Iran.

I have no wings and flying without wings are not easy; let alone my wings have no feathers! However when I travel to the south, the sky is so clear, remarkably clear and my soul goes in the sky! I pick the prettiest part of the sky and I melt into the wing and then into the air, till I’m just soul on a sunbeam.

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Kashan-Niasar: In The Middle of Vast Deserts!

In the middle of vast deserts and beautiful mountains there is a beautiful small village with lots of flowers, a waterfall and caves hidden in the desert surrounded by mountains.

The green and beautiful resort village of Niasar is located 28 kilometers west of the city of Kashan, Isfahan province. Niasar’s Sassanid monument is a domed building constructed over a rock at the highest point of Niasar village which can be seen from afar.

Niasar cave, with its entrance openings, located in gardens north of Niasar village, is a temple belonging to followers of Mitra (god of ancient Persia). The temple most probably dates back to the early Partian era. All but one of the chambers of the cave are man-made.The Eid-ul-Adha (Al-Adha feast) held in Niasar lends proof to the fact that people living in the region in the olden times believed in Mithraism.

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Mount of Sun : Iran : Zanjan : Katale Khor Cave


Katale khor (Persian: کتله‌خور,Azerbaijani: كتل كوتول) is a cave located in Zanjan Province, Iran. It’s situated at 120 km south of Zanjan city and 410 km away from Tehran. The name, Katale khor, means “mount of Sun”.


It is believed that the cave joins to Ali Sadr Cave in Hamadan province.

The cave was scientifically studied at 1984 and due to the results, formation of the cave referred to the Jurassic period (about 120 million years ago). The cave mostly contains lime stalactites and stalagmites and huge halls and corridors, mainly dry. Three levels of the cave have been explored so far and it is anticipated that unexplored levels exceeds to four. Currently, there are two visiting routes inside the cave, a 2 km long straight route for public visit and a 4 km long sport route for professionals. This cave at entry stages was residence of ancient people so that bones of about 80 people are still preserved.
This cave was discovered about 90 years ago but it was registered by Ahmad Jamali


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