The history of Christianity in Iran
Christianity in Iran goes back to the early years of monotheism, before the advent of Islam. This religion has wider followers in the past than it does now. Iranian Christian hare played an important role in promoting Christianity. There are currently at least 600 churches and 500.000 to 1.000.000 Christians in Iran. There are several Christian tribes in Iran, such as the Chaldean Catholics, Armenians, Assyrians who have a distinct culture and language and Persian-speaking Christians who appeared in the Qajar period in coincident with the translation of the bible. With the presence of Christians in Iran, numerous churches,which are the main symbols of the Christian religion, were also built Mostly during the eight century A.M or the fourteenth century A.D and later. However This does not mean that there were no churches in Iran before that period. During the reign of Shah Abbas, the Safavid monarch, his astonishing policies led to a significant number of Armenians from Armenia and Azerbaijan settling in Isfahan and other part of Iran. A place called Jolfa was built on the banks of the Zayandeh Rud River in Isfahan, where these immigrants settled. As a result, churches were built there. After the death of king Abbas I, his successor, king Abbas II also paid much attention to the welfare of the Armenians and more churches were built in Jolfa.
Churches in Iran
Vank Cathedral, also known as the Holy savior cathedral, is one of the most striking attractions in Isfahan . The wealth of the people and the independence of the region and the existence of a diverse collection of European missionaries, mercenaries and travelers have influenced its contrasting styles of interior and exterior architecture.Nowadays churches in Iran, in addition of being the local Armenian place of worship is also a place for preserving unique historical monuments and ancient manuscripts. Therefore, Vank cathedral is considered as one of the tourism attraction of Isfahan,beside Naqsh e Jahan square.
Shortly after the Armenians settled in Jolfa, Some Armenians settled in Gilan and some in Shiraz. The invasion of many Europeans during the reign of the Qajar led to the flourishing of other churches in addition to those already built. The most important of these churches of the Monastery of Saint Thaddeus (also known as the Kara Kilise or the Black church) located in South of Maku and 20 kilometers Northeast of Chaldaran in a village of the same name located in the mountainous region of West Azerbaijan province. The church can be seen from long distances because of its Armenian conical roofs and is listed in the UNESCO world heritage sites list in 2008. Today, this church is considered as a meeting place for Armenians of Iran and even neighboring countries on the occasion of the annual celebrations.These two churches, both of which belong of the Armenians of Iran, have attracted domestic and foreign tourists with their unique historical appeal and architecture.
National Solidarity and Religious Minorities
The Armenians of Iran are the largest group of Christians in Iran, with a population of about 80 to 120.000 individuals. Armenians have founded social clubs starting in Tehran. These clubs or clubs are for national and religious celebrations and for cultural, literary, artistic and social opportunities for Armenians.
As Iranians citizens, the Armenians of Iran have freedom of speech and opinion and along with the right to vote and to be elected can be free in other social, cultural, sporting affairs and so on. Because the constitution provides and affirms equality for all the Iranian people. What is most commendable about religion minorities in Iran is that despite their small population in Iran, they have representatives (five representatives) in the Islamic Consultative Assembly. Accordingly, the Zoroastrians and the Jews each will have one representative, the Assyrians and Chaldean Christian one representative and the Christians of the North and South of the country each will have one representative. These religious minorities are always present at the presidential election and city council representatives at the ballot box. The existence of religious minorities and their participation in various political and social fields have played an important role in fostering national solidarity and unity, thus contributing to the development and better development of the country.

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