Tomb of Esther and Mordechai

Tomb of Esther and Mordechai

The pivotal Biblical event of the period of the Babylonian Captivity was the marriage of a Jewish girl named Esther to the Persian Emperor Ahasuerus.  Because of her influence with the Emperor, an attempt to slaughter of all Jews in Persia was narrowly averted.  The would-be perpetrator of the genocide, the Emperor’s advisor Haman, was put to death, and the Jews were permitted to return to their homeland as subjects of Persia.  Despite the miraculous events wherein Esther probably saved the majority of her people, she was not destined to ever see the Promised Land again.  For the rest of her life she remained by the side of Ahasuerus, along with her uncle Mordechai, who became one of the Emperor’s closest advisors.

Esther probably died around 500 BC, and was buried in the city of Hamadan along with her uncle.  Later, when the Jews were permitted to return to Palestine, many decided to stay in Hamadan, in part due to their loyalty to Esther, but also because many had become quite settled in their new homes there.  For the next twenty centuries, the Jewish communities of Persia and Mesopotamia remained among the largest and most influential in the world.  After the final dispersion of the Sanhedrin Communities in Judea in the 4th century AD, the Jewish leaders of Persia became the defacto supreme arbiters of Jewish law and practices.

Inside View of Tomb

Inside View of Tomb of Esther and Mordechai

The Jews of Persia remained an important cultural and religious presence in the Islamic east until the 19th century, when they at last began migrating back to the west, a process which has greatly accelerated in the second half of the 20th century.  While the surviving Jewish population of Iran is now very small, the Mausoleum of Esther and Mordechai remains the pilgrimage center of the Iranian Jewish community.

Shrine of Esther and Mordechai

Shrine of Esther and Mordechai

The Shrine of Esther and Mordechai  is a relatively small structure marked by a domed tower.  Although it appears much older due to its extremely simple and austere architectural style, the shrine only dates back to the 13th century.  An arched, late Persian-style entrance is a giveaway to the shrine’s builders and true age.

The tombs of Esther and Mordechai  are clearly much older, and are marked by a pair of large stones similar to the types that sealed off graves in ancient Israel and later Judea.  Inscriptions in Hebrew identify the two tombs as those of Esther and Mordechai .


Chak Chak  the Zoroastrian Fire Temple

Not far from Yazd is the Zoroastrian sanctuary of Chak-Chak. Although Zoroastrianism arose in eastern Iran, now followers number only about. 10,000 people and Muslims call them infidels. Most of the temples were destroyed, but those that remained, are of great interest to tourists.

Short History Zoroastrianism 

Zoroastrianism, or Mazdeism, a religion founded in the 8th or 7th c. BC. reformer of an ancient Iranian religion called Zarathustra. The religion of Zoroastrianism continues to exist until today. In Iran, its followers total only approx. 10,000 people and Muslims call them gabaras (“infidels”). Today, the community of Zoroastrians (zartoshti) is mainly parses of India and the United States. Small communities are scattered all over the world – Iran, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Canada, Turkey, Afghanistan.

Chak Chak Location

Although on the maps Chak-Chak is marked as a village, nobody really lives there, except the guard and rare pilgrims on ordinary days. Only during religious holidays, many Zoroastrians from all over the world come here. Located Chak-Chak in 43 kilometers from Ardakan – a small historical town, located on the road Yazd-Tehran. Getting to the sanctuary is not very simple – the flow of cars there is extremely small, most often there are taxis carrying local and foreign tourists. Near Ardakan, you can also see the Zoroastrian towers of silence.

Zoroastrian Temple

To the temple of Pir-e Sabz, cut down in the thickness of the mountain, there are 320 steps. In Pir-e Sabz, the fire burns and the holy spring beats. According to legend, the appearance of a spring in this place is connected with the escape from the Arab invasion of the Sassanid princess Nikban. Thirsting in the desert, Nikbana followed the order of Ahura Mazda and threw her staff to the ground. Where she did this, she scored a stream. By the way, the name of the Chak-Chak complex came from the sound of drops falling to the floor.

In Zoroastrian temples, called Persian “atashkade” (lit. house of fire), an unquenchable fire burns, the ministers of the church watch around the clock, so it does not go out. There are temples in which fire burns for many centuries. The family of the mobs, to whom the sacred fire belongs, fully carries all the costs of maintaining the fire and its protection and does not materially depend on the help of the bekhdins. The decision to establish a new fire is taken only if the necessary funds are available.


The Moors are guardians of sacred lights and are obliged to protect them in all accessible ways, including with weapons in their hands. This probably explains the fact that after the Islamic conquest Zoroastrianism quickly declined. Many of the mobs were killed defending the lights.

Zoroastrians attach great importance to rituals and ceremonies. The main feature of the Zoroastrian rituals is the struggle against any impurity, material and spiritual. The sacred fire plays an extremely important role in Zoroastrianism, for this reason the Zoroastrians were often called “fire worshipers”, although the Zoroastrians themselves consider this name insulting. They claim that fire is only the image of God on earth.

The Zoroastrian holiday Navruz is still a national holiday in Kazakhstan (Nauryz), Azerbaijan (Novruz), Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation.


The Memory of Saint Thaddeus and His Faithful Followers

Iran’s Qara Kelisa will honor the memory of Saint Thaddeus and his faithful followers during a ceremony in the northern province of West Azerbaijan.
The church is located at the end of a road which has been constructed merely for this church and a small nearby village. Qara Kelissa was registered as the ninth historical-cultural heritage of Iran at the 32nd International Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Quebec, Canada.

Scores of Armenians, Assyrians, and Catholics from Iran and other countries will attend the annual event as part of their pilgrimage on the Day of St. Thaddeus.
The ceremony is known as one of the largest religious ceremonies held by Armenians.
Qara Kelisa, also known as the St. Thaddeus Church, is one of the oldest and most notable surviving Christian monuments of Iran that carries great significance for the country’s Armenian Orthodox community.

The church is composed of two parts: a black structure, the original building of the church from which it takes its name and a white structure, the main church, which was added to the original building’s western wing in 1810 CE.
An ancient chapel two kilometers northwest of the church is said to have been the place where the first Christian woman, Sandokh, was martyred. The chapel is believed to be as old as Qara Kelisa. The structure was inscribed along with two other monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith namely St. Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.

Saint Thaddeus Monastery
The Saint Thaddeus Monastery is an ancient Armenian monastery located in the mountainous area of Iran’s West Azarbaijan Province, about 20 kilometers from the town of Maku. The monastery is visible from a distance because of the massiveness of the church, strongly characterized by the polygonal drums and conical roofs of its two domes. There are several chapels nearby: three on the hills east of the stream, one approximately 3km south of the monastery on the road to Bastam, and another that serves as the church for the village of Ghara-Kilise.
One of the 12 Apostles, St. Thaddeus, also known as Saint Jude, (not to be confused with Judas Iscariot), was martyred while spreading the Gospel. He is revered as an apostle of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Legend has it that a church dedicated to him was first built on the present site in AD 68.
Not much appears to remain of the original church, which was extensively rebuilt in 1329 after an earthquake damaged the structure in 1319. Nevertheless, some of the parts surrounding the altar apse date from the 10th century.
Most of the present structure dates from the early 19th century when Qajar prince Abbas Mirza helped in renovations and repairs. The 19th-century additions are from carved sandstone. The earliest parts are of black and white stone, hence its Turkish name Kara Kilise, the Black Church. A fortified wall surrounds the church and its now-abandoned monastery buildings.

According to Armenian Church tradition, the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew traveled through Armenia in AD 45 to preach the word of God; many people were converted and numerous secret Christian communities were established there.
The ancient Christian historian Moses of Khorene tell the following story, considered a legend by most modern historiography.
Thaddeus converted King Abgar V of Edessa. After his death, the Armenian kingdom was split into two parts. His son Ananun crowned himself in Edessa, while his nephew Sanatruk ruled in Armenia. About AD 66, Ananun gave the order to kill St. Thaddeus in Edessa. The king’s daughter Sandokht, who had converted to Christianity, was martyred with Thaddeus. Her tomb is said to be located near the Ghara Kelisa.

History and Architecture
In Turkish, Qara means black and the church was called so because a part of it was black. Apparently, the main building of the church was built entirely of black stones but after reconstruction part of the stones was replaced by white ones. This was most probably done intentionally so that future generations would be informed of the original shape and façade of the church.
The church was destroyed and reconstructed at different eras for different reasons. A great part of the church was destroyed in the year 1230 (616 Lunar Hejira) during the attack of Genghis Khan.
When Hulagu Khan was residing in Azarbaijan, Khaje Nassireddin Toosi embarked on its reconstruction.
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.
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.
The church was destroyed as a result of an earthquake in 1319 and as narrated by Andranik Hovian there is a document showing it was rehabilitated by Saint Zachary in 1329.


Yazd hosts 3 great monotheistic religions

Yazd, as one of the most vicious cities in Iran, has special cultural and religious characteristics.
This city, which has recently entered the UNESCO World Register, has a peaceful coexistence among followers of its monotheistic religions.The great religions of Islam, Judaism and Zoroastrianism have lived together for hundreds of years ago and respected each other’s beliefs.Yazd enjoys a high status among Iranian cities in view of its cultural and social history.
“Yazd’s culture has been deeply concentrated in ancient Iranian culture and focuses on engagement, peaceful coexistence, acceptance of differences, and respect for commonalities between different groups.”
The head of the Central Zoroastrian Association in Yazd province said: “Freedom to hold religious ceremonies is a sign of respect for the beliefs of various religions in Iran.
He also added that the presence of a Zoroastrian representative as a representative of religious minorities in the Islamic Consultative Assembly is a sign of respect for the rights of the religions and the system of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Kourosh Niknam, a former Zoroastrian representative in the Islamic Consultative Assembly, said: “Over the years, Zoroastrians and Muslims of Yazd have worked together to build this city together.
In fact, the city of Yazd is a symbol of peaceful and successful coexistence of religions alongside. This city is a common heritage of all the Iranians, and its global record is an opportunity to pay more attention to this city.”
Yazd has placed magnificent effects of the Iranian architectural heritage.You can see the largest and best historical works of Iranian bricks in Yazd.To see these unique works, the opportunity should not be lost
Yazd people will host you on this tour

Anahita, The goddess of water & Fertility in Ancient Persia

Anahita, The goddess of water & Fertility in Ancient Persia

Iranian myths consist of the views and perspectives of the inhabitants of Iranian plateau about the confrontation with good and evil, gods acts, heroes’ bravery and legendary creatures. These myths play very crucial roles in Iranian culture.

Most of our information about Iranian myths come from two sources:

  1. Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrians, and
  2. Shahnameh, Ferdosy’s epics work in verse.

Ancient Iranian gods

Ahuramazda is a wise master, ultimate God, absolute good, wisdom and recognition, the creator of the Sun, stars, darkness and light, human beings and animals and all mental and physical activities. Ahriman is an evil spirit, the opposite of Ahuramazda who always tries to destroy the truth and world and harms human beings and animals.

In this world, life is a reflection of universal struggle between Ahuramazda and Ahriman. All men must choose either of these too.

Anahita is the goddess of all waters on the earth and the source of all oceans in the universe. She is on a chariot being drawn by four horses: wind, rain, cloud and hail. Because of Anahita’s connection with life, warriors ask her to keep them alive and give them victory during wars.

Verethraghna is the god of warriors and assaulters and is the source of victorious power against demons. Ahuramazda advised Zoroaster to take a feather of Verethraghna from a bird’s body while trapped in adversary’s magic.

Mithra is the most famous ancient Iranian goddess. She was believed to watch human beings and their actions, agreements and contracts. She led people in the right path and protected them from attacks. She controlled the order prevailing in the universe.

Vayuo is the god of wind attacking evil spirits in supporting Ahuramazda’s good creatures. He reigns between the realms of Ahuramazda and Ahriman, meaning between light and darkness.

Tishtar is the god of rain originating from Varukasha Sea (Farakhkart) and distributing water among all countries.

Atar, fire, is Ahuramazda’s son. People were expected to present meat to fire as sacrifice while having a bunch of sacred plant called barsom in their hands.

Hoom is a god who presents health and power and blesses children and crops.

The Creation of Universe

Ancient Iranians believed that everything was created in a specific order beginning with heaven, water, earth, fire, human being, respectively. Some of the things created first were very well respected like the Alborz, the first mountain, Simorgh, the first bird, etc.

When the first sin was committed, the whole creation was filled with corruption and decay and replaced peace and order.

Demons & Evil Forces

Some evil forces attack human bodies directly and some indirectly. Demons are false gods and fairies are female evil spirits acting during nights. They all serve Ahriman.

Legendary Beings

Simorgh nests on the tree of all seeds and disseminates seeds by flapping wings all around the world.

Kar is a fish that lives around the tree of all seeds and keeps all harmful beings away from this tree.

Qoorbagheh, frog, tries to chew the roots of this sacred tree.

Karshaptar is a swift-winged bird that spreads Zoroaster’s words here and there.

Joghd, owl, is a bird that casts away demons by uttering holy words.

Chamroosh, a patriot bird, vanquishes lran’s adversaries and helps to spread the seeds of the tree of all seeds.

There were also some unpleasant creatures like rodents, lizards, turtles, spiders, bees, ants, beetles, etc. There were some legendary monsters against whom human heroes struggled. They were often in form of snakes or dragons the most significant of whom was called Azhdihak, a three-headed monster devouring human beings. It is called Zahak in Shahnameh.

The First Men & Heroes

Kyumars, meaning mortal, is the first legendary man who is described as a handsome and attractive man and as bright as the Sun. It is believed that he has been born out of the earth.

Hooshang is the first king founding the first legendary dynasty of Iran called Pishdadian. He promotes civilization in the world, exploits iron, uses ironsmith techniques, produces and uses tools and weapons, etc.

Jamshid is the greatest hero who is introduced as the king of the whole world. Everything is good during his ruling period.

Fereydoon, another king, is always remembered for his struggle against Zahak. He does not kill him, but imprisons him forever in the mount Damavand.

Rostam is one of the greatest mythical heroes in Shahnameh. He turns out to be the symbol of physical as well as spiritual power and devotion for his country. He is such a strong man who can defeat an elephant instantly by his mace.

Rakhsh is Rostam’s horse and the only horse whose belly does not reach the ground when Rostam presses his hand on its back. So, it is chosen by him to be his faithful servant. It passes through all hardship and battles along with Rostam and eventually dies with him.

Sohrab is Rostam’s son who grows up to be a strong brave young boy. His father, who does not know his son before giving him the last deadly blow, ultimately kills him.

Siavash is a prince who learns all the techniques and skills of princedom from Rostam. Since he refuses to answer positively to the temptations of his father’s wife, his father wants him to pass through fire to prove his innocence. This was a pre-Zoroastrianism tradition. At last, he becomes the victim of Garsivaz’ intrigues and is killed an innocent death.

Mythical Creatures

In addition to Rakhsh and Simorgh mentioned earlier, there are other mythical creatures like:

White Demon is an old demon imprisoning Kavoos, Iran’s king. After a lot of hard struggle, Rostam succeeds to kill White Demon and free the king, Kavoos.

Akvan-e-Deav is the most famous demon that attacks kings’ herds. Rostam is called for help and at last defeats it.

Ezhdeha, dragon, is another legendary creature who fights against Rostam. A more astonishing battle happens between dragon and Esfandyar, another legendary hero. Esfandyar shatters its brain into pieces in the end.


Ancient Iranians’ legends and myths still continue in People’s beliefs in various ways. It can be even traced in Iran’s present adjacent countries.

In fact, the secret of the survival of Iranian culture and language together with all rich traditions and social concepts can be found out in keeping these legends and myths directly or indirectly.


Masoomeh Shrine at Qom

Masoomeh Shrine at Qom

The inhabitants of the ancient eastern world worshiped the Sun, the Moon, stars, rain, water, river, spring, cows, camels, horses, etc as well as the opposite extremes such as darkness, lightning, clouds, winter, snakes, eagles, wolves, etc to be away from their harms.

Iranians were influenced by Semites, Babylonians and Assyrians’ incantation sayings, magic and spells. Zarathustra rose against such superstitions and the beliefs of Iranian plateau local people like worshiping the Sun, the Moon and stars.

Ancient Iranians believed in dualism, life after death and rewards for human deeds. Aryans also believed in animism and fetishism. The influences of these beliefs are still observed in modern-day Iranians’ beliefs and superstitions.

Various Nations’ Beliefs

What we surely know about Elamites’ religion is the fact that they believed in a great god called Shushinak. Scythians were highly civilized and religious who believed in one heavenly power, but had various idols as well.

Aryans believed in a series of good beings that had presented the treasures of nature to human beings the most important of which were light and rain. They also believed in a series of bad beings struggling with good ones and trying to block humans from getting to prosperity.

In general, Aryans’ beliefs led them toward a better code of ethics compared to Babylonians and Assyrians. They relied more on a combination of human endeavor and action with honesty and righteousness. Aryans worshiped Mithra (the goddess of the Sun), Ashi (the goddess of fertility and marriage), Verethraghna (the god of attack and victory), Mazda (the great god of eastern and western settled, civilized Iranians), and several minor gods and goddesses.

Medes’ religion was very much identical with Hoorians’ and Assyrians’, especially according to the sphinxes discovered in their regions. Magi held religious ceremonies for Medes and later for Persians.

Religions during Pre-Islam Iran

In Achaemenians’ era, under Persians, all subject nations were free to believe in any religions and there was not any religion recognized officially by kings. The majority of people believed in four holy elements: light, water, earth and air. When Cyrus the great defeated Nebuchadnezzar, the captive Jews of Babylonia were freed by the Persian king and rendered helps to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple. Undoubtedly, Jews owed their survival to Iranians. According to Old Testament, a group of them migrated to Iran at about 8th century B.C. Xerxes’ minister, later, prosecuted them.

Parthians’ religion was a combination of the religions of pre-Achaemenian Aryans, Zarathustra and Greek-influenced Seleucids. Mithraism was more popular among them.

After Alexander’s invasion to Iran and Seleucid dynasty till Parthians’ period, Buddhism found followers in Iran and stopped being practiced toward the end of Samanids.

During Sassanians, kings recognized Zoroastrianism as the official religion. The holy book of Zoroastrians, Avesta, was destroyed by Arabs’ invasion, but later could have been partly recollected and rewritten. It was written in Pahlavi. Later, it was interpreted in a book called Zand. Pazand was also written later to explain Zand in Dary Persian. All through the history, Zoroastrians have believed in three principles: good thought, good words and good deeds.

During the first half of the 3rd century A.D, an Iranian noble man called “Mani”, started Manichaeism. He declared his mission and began from Persia and found some followers from Syria, Egypt, North Africa to France and Spain. In the 2nd half of the same century, he was killed in Sassanians’ prison. He wrote six books in east Aramaic and Pahlavi.

“Mazdak” started his religious, political movement around the end of 5th and the beginning of 6th centuries A.D. He was killed when he had been taking part in a royal discussion meeting. His death won plenty of respect for his religion as well as Zoroastrianism.

At the end of Sassanians’ era, some other Jews had joined the ones in Iran. Christians grew in number during Parthians and found many followers, especially in Armenia during Sassanians and Romanians.

“Zorvanism”, the belief in the god called Zorvan, is not that much different from Zoroastrianism. It was practiced simultaneously with Zoroastrianism during Sassanians. This religion, like Manichaeism, Mazdaism and Christianity, was banned during Sassanians and the followers were prosecuted.

Religions during Post-Islam Iran

After Arabs’ invasion, the Iranian followers of Zoroastrianism were divided into three groups:

1. Those who converted to Islam,

2. Those who did not convert and migrated to India, and

3. Those who stayed in their homeland and kept believing in their own religions.

Zoroastrianism has gone through many changes since 14 centuries ago, but the main doctrine has remained intact.

There were two large mighty powers in the world when Islam emerged: Romans and Iranians. Sassanians were defeated by Arabs bringing a new religion, Islam.

After Mohammad was inspired by Allah to invite people to worship one true God, he obeyed God’s order and followed it for three years behind scenes.

Later he invited people in the public. After successive years of hard life and prosecutions, he decided to move from Mecca to Medina. Eight years later, he moved back to Mecca leading a large army of Muslims.

During his life, Mohammad united Arabs in the Arabia peninsula and founded a religious government that later extended its borders eastward, westward and northward.

At last, Islam has turned to be one of the most popular religions all over the world. The majority of the worlds’ Muslims are Sunni Muslims while Shiites are the minority. The followers of the latter branch form the majority of Muslims in Iran at present.

Later, under Mongols, Christians were well liked by early Ilkhanid kings, but latter kings prosecuted them. Nestorianism started in Ephesus, grew at the border area between Roman and Iranian Empires, found many followers in Iran and put a strong impact on the Christians of next centuries in Iran.

Mongols’ invasion to Iran ended in a kind of freedom in choosing religion. As a result, Abbasid caliphate collapsed in Iran and Shiite branch started to grow. Mysticism also started to attract many during Ilkhanid dynasty.

During Safavids, Zoroastrians were forced to pay special taxes, because they had not converted to Islam. In addition, some taxes placed on their business activities were a lot more than those placed on Muslims.

The Shiite branch had been divided into two branched, 12-Imam Shiites and 7-Imam Shiites. The first branch grew stronger and stronger up until Safavid period when this branch was announced as official branch of Islam in Iran. This happened when the majority of the Iranians were Sunnis. But, since Ottomans were Sunni, the first Safavid king, Ismail wanted to unite the whole nation against the foreign threat. Inside the country, Jews and Zoroastrians were not treated fairly. Christians enjoyed a little more advantages. Later during shah Abbas I, a large number of Christians migrated to Iran.

Under Afsharid dynasty, Nader Shah inherited an era of politics mixed with religion. He tried to win people’s hearts by paying respect to Shiite doctrine and the holy shrine of eight Imam, Reza, in Mashad. During Afsharid dynasty, Kashan turned into a small Jerusalem for Jewish Iranians and their clergymen. Business also flourished the town and lots of wealth was produced during Nader.

Karim Khan, the Zand king, rendered more freedom to non-Muslims. He respected religion, but did not let Muslim clergymen be seriously involved in politics.

Iranian society under Qajar dynasty was religious-oriented. Family morale, business and social interactions were all based on Islam. More than any other periods in Iranian history, Qajar kings paid plenty of attention to Imam Hossein’s martyrdom and his commemorative ceremonies.

Zoroastrians and Christians were not under much governmental pressure, but Jews were not treated likewise. They could have been forced easily to pay more and more taxes.

The Shiite branch of Islam has been divided into many sub-branches itself, but today, Twelvers are the majority of Iranian Muslims. The other branches are diminishingly decreased in number.


As one can simply conclude, religion has always played a key role in Iran’s history, both in people’s attitudes and in the ruling system of governments in various periods of time. Almost every aspect of Iranians’ lives was under direct or indirect impact of their religion. This is a concrete fact easily observed in every aspect of Iranians’ lives.




Isfahan Armenian Cathedral among must-see stops for British tourists

The Holy Savior Cathedral, an Armenian church in Iranian city of Isfahan was included in the International Business Times’ recommendations for British tourists who will from now on be able to travel to the Islamic Republic thanks to direct London-Tehran flights.

The Holy Savior Cathedral, commonly known as Vank Cathedral, is an Armenian Apostolic church built in the early 1600s in Isfahan and located in the New Julfa district.

The cathedral was established in 1606, dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of Armenian deportees that were resettled by Shah Abbas I during the Ottoman War of 1603-1618.

The interior is covered with fine frescos and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work.

Also included in the list are Mount Damavand, the Bazaar of Isfahan, the Ali Kapu Palace, Isfahan’s Allāhverdi Khan Bridge, Persepolis, Golestan Palace in Tehran, the Zagros Mountains and many other wonders.

British Airways resumed direct flights to Iran, running six round trip flights per week with more flights scheduled to be added later this year. Some sanctions against Iran were lifted earlier this year as part of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

“Iran is expected to experience a tourism boom. Visitors may be surprised to discover the riches the country has to offer, including ancient ruins, pristine beaches and popular ski resorts. Iran made it on to the top destination lists of major publications thanks to sights that include 2,500-year-old ruins at Persepolis near Shiraz and 16th-century Islamic architectural gems in Isfahan,” IBTimes said.