There are many religious temples in every corner of Iran. For over centuries, multiple religions were introduced to the country and were able to convert some of the population which eventually resulted in many religious minorities. From the native religions to foreigners who briefly lived in Iran, mark fo their religious rituals were left by the temples built for worship. In this article we will introduce you to some of the temples left from minority religious groups that are now open to public.
What are the minority religions in Iran?
The majority of Iranians are Shia Muslims therefore you can see mosques in almost every neighbourhood of each city. However there are also many believers of other religions in the country. Sunni Islam, Christianism, Judaism and Zoroastrianism are the most popular religions after Shia islam along with lesser known religions such as Mandaian with very small number of followers in specific regions.
Top minority religion worship places in Iran
Zoroastrianism is the oldest religion in Iran founded in the 6th century BCE. Over time other religions have found their way to Iran and as a result the number of Zoroastrians decreased. However many of their temples are still standing in different cities of Iran, some as an active worship place and other ones as a tourist site for visitors.
Fire is an important element among the Zoroastrians and many of their rituals take place among fire. Because of the permanent presence of fire in Zoroastrians ceremonies, their worship places are called fire temples. There are many fire temples in different parts of Iran:
#1 The fire temple of Yazd
You can see the fire that has been burning for over fifteen centuries at the fire temple of Yazd. This is the place used for the religious ceremonies of Yazd’s minorities. The temple is located in a garden. In the centre of this garden, there is a building where you can see the fire inside it. There is also a museum next to the main building if you’re interested to learn more about the religion.
#2 The fire temple of Tehran (Adrian fire temple)
This is the only fire temple in Tehran used for the Zoroastrian rituals. Just like the one in Yazd, this temple is also located in a garden full of trees and an oval pool. Water is the second most important element for this minority religion after fire, therefore you can see water related objects in most of the fire temples. Adrian has many delicate designs, each representing the beliefs of Zoroastrians.
#3 Adur Gushnasb fire temple, west Azerbaijan province
This temple is among the most famous fire temples in Iran. It was built over three thousand years ago and it was designed for the royal and military classes. During the time many castles had been built around this area, however nowadays, not only the castles are destroyed but most of the fire temple itself is ruined. Nevertheless, the remaining parts of this historical temple are still stunning, especially with the view of Chichast Lake which is right beside the temple and it looks like as if it is the private pool of this temple.
#4 Adur Burzen-Mihr fire temple
Adur Burzen-Mihr, along with Adur Gushnasb and Karian are the three most important holy places in Iran before Islam. Adur Burzen-Mihr is located in Khorasan province and the fire used for lightening this temple is among the most holy fires in Zoroastrians beliefs.
Sunni Muslims mosques
Sunni Islam is another minority religious belief in Iran. Just like Shia Muslims, the worship place for Sunnis is the mosque. However Shia and Sunni mosques have some differences. One of the most significant differences is that most of Shia mosques have two Minarets but the Sunni ones only have one. Most of the mosques in the southern parts of Iran like Hormozgan province belong to Sunni Muslims.
Jame Mosque, Bandar Abbas
This mosque is the oldest mosque in Bandar Abbas and one of the biggest in the country. The mosque is located in the coastal area of the city with the view of the Persian Gulf. The Friday prayers held weekly by Muslims takes place at this mosque.
Churches in Iran
Christians form a significant population of Iran and they have many active worship places all around the country. Armenians are the majority of the Christians who have immigrated to Iran from Armenia years ago. The regions that have the biggest population of Christians are Tehran, Esfahan and Azerbaijan province. Therefore you can see most churches in these area.
#1 Saint Sarkis Cathedral, Tehran
This is the biggest church in Tehran. It was built about fifty years ago by one of the local Armenians and named after saint Sarkis. The structure of this church is inspired by the buildings of the middle ages.
#2 Church of our lady the Rosary, Esfahan
Designed by Italians and catholic Armenians, this church was built in the Safavid Era. From that time ever since, Esfahan has been the home to many Christians, mostly Armenians and Georgians. This church has been restored several times and right now it is one of the many functioning temples in Esfahan.
The historical minority religious temples in Iran
#1 Chogha-Zanbil ziggurat
This Ziggurat (a pyramidal stepped temple) is the oldest religious temple known in Iran. It was built by the Elam civilisation over three thousand years ago. The architecture style was used multiple times and it can be seen in other remaining regions from this civilisation. The temples built by the old Persians used to be tall, Chogha-Zanbil ziggurat for instance, was built fifty meters high. However most of it was ruined during attacks over time and currently only 25 meters of the height of Chogha Zanbil remains.
#2 Temple of Anahita, Kangavar
This temple is the second biggest stone building after Persepolis and it is located in Kangavar, Kermanshah province. In ancient Persian beliefs, Anahita is the goddess of water and fertility and one of the most precious divinities. This temple was built to admire Anahita and to show its importance, it was built on the height of the hills in the area.
#3 The Indian temple, Bandar Abbas
During the monarchy of Qajar, the Indian merchants who lived in southern parts of Iran built a temple for their rituals. The design of this temple is also inspired by the Islamic and Persian architecture but the Indian-style statues, the very specific dome and the interior gives it a striking look compared to other sites in Iran.