UNESCO-designated monastery offers 360° virtual tours

July 5, 2021 - 19:30

TEHRAN - The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus, a UNESCO-registered property in West Azarbaijan province, has launched a series of 360° virtual tours, the provincial tourism chief has announced. 

The tours are available in five different languages of Turkish, Kurdish, Persian, Armenian, and English, and anyone interested can choose the language of their choice, Jalil Jabari said on Monday. 

They include viewing the rooftops, the courtyard, the church hall and the altar, the entrance area, the road leading to the church, as well as its old kitchen, the official added. 

 The virtual tours provide an online visit to the province’s landmarks and tourist attractions since not everyone can visit in person, especially with the coronavirus outbreak, he explained. 

Also known as the Qareh Klise (“the Black Church”), the monastery is one of the oldest surviving Christian monuments in the country. It is situated in Chaldoran county some 20 kilometers from Maku, adjacent to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey.

The ancient Church shows off elaborate bas-reliefs of flowers, animals, and human figures on its façade and exterior walls. It bears verses of Old and New Testament in Armenian calligraphy as well.

Every year in late July, tourists travel from all over the world to Chaldoran to visit and pilgrimage the monument. Besides the essential core of the pilgrimage, called Badarak, baptism of children and youngsters along with performances of traditional songs and dances are amongst highlights of the event.

The festivity is of high importance for Iranian-Armenians who mostly come from the cities of Tabriz, Urmia, Tehran, Isfahan, and Qazvin, to stage the reunion in groups and families. It also provides them an opportunity to go on holiday and visit distant relatives.

Attendees commemorate the martyrdom of St. Thaddeus, one of the twelve disciples killed while he was preaching the Gospel. The legend says a church dedicated to him was first built in 68 CE where Qareh Klise is standing.

Thaddeus was an apostle of Christ and the ceremony is rooted in the last supper with Jesus Christ on the night of his arrest and execution by the Roman soldiers.

Together with St. Stepanos Monastery and the Chapel of Dzordzor, Qareh Klise was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008 under the name “Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran”. All three sites are located in West Azarbaijan and are of high significance from historical and cultural perspectives. They bear credible testimony to interchanges with the ancient regional societies in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox, and Persian.

UNESCO has it that the churches bear examples of outstanding universal values of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions.


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