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Church of St. Mary (Nane maryam church)

PostPosted: Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:58 pm
by Azam
Introduction: Many old churches remain in Iran from the early days of Christianity. The Church of St. Mary in northwestern Iran (West Azerbaijan Province- Urmia city) for example, is considered by some historians to be the second oldest church in Christendom after the Church of Bethlehem in the West Bank. It is believed by some to have been first built in 32 AD. A Chinese princess, who contributed to its reconstruction in 642 AD, has her name engraved on a stone on the church wall. The famous Italian traveller Marco Polo also described the church in his visit.
Current building of the church belongs to Sassanian era and its interior design is a combination of Sassanian and Arsacid architecture.

Church of St. Mary does not look like other churches. It is furnished by hand made carpets and does not have any benches. It also doesn't have a confessional. After entering the church through its short door you will see a panel on which is written "DRAW NOT NIGH HITHER PUT OFF THY SHOES FROM OFF THY FEET FOR THE PLACE WHERE ON THOU STANDEST IS HOLY GROUND" which means: Take your shoes off for the place you stand on is a holy ground.
It is believed by some Assyrian and Christian historians that it had been a "Fire temple" at first in which Zoroastrian priests used to pray. At Jesus Christ' time of birth three priests observed a shining star moving toward east. They considered it as a sign of awaited Messiah's birth and traveled to Jerusalem to meet him. After coming back they change the fire temple to a church.


Location: Urmia city, west Azarbaijan

Days of trip: (Without air plane) 3 Days from Tehran to Tehran (Without heavy traffic you need About 10-12 hr driving from Tehran to Urmia)
Attention: In holidays there is heavy traffic in all roads around Tehran.

Best time to visit: No limit, but spring is b best time.

Daily time visit: No permission at night

Difficulty level: Easy

Requirements: (Depend on your plan) Guide or GPS track, water, food, warm and waterproof clothes and tent

Legal permission need: No


Overall risk: -

Animal risk: No

Lost risk: No

Rescue: Yes, you can call 115

GSM Mobile Antenna: Yes


Hotel: Yes

Shop: Yes

Gasoline: Yes

Village: Located in Urmia city


How to get there:
1- Go to west terminal of buses in Tehran (more info), Also you can use train.
2- Take a bus ticket to Urmia.
3- Take a taxi to the mosque

Nearest airport: Urmia airport

Nearest train station: Tabriz station


Location on map: