Tehran, Sept 21, IRNA – Kerman, the southeastern city of Iran, has long been regarded as a safe haven for religious coexistence. The places of worship in the ancient city are reminiscent of such coexistence.
The English-language paper Iran Daily, on its Iranica page, provides its readers with good information on the city’s historical religious sites.
The summarized article follows:
Adherents of various religions have coexisted peacefully for a long time in the ancient city of Kerman. Hence, signs of that coexistence can be found throughout the city. The most famous of the sites can be listed as:
Kerman Grand Mosque
Kerman Grand Mosque has served as a place of gathering for the faithful. The building is reminiscent of the courage of Ali Bami in the war against Jermanian and Oghanian in the wars waged by Mohammad Mozaffar Meibodi. When the ruler of Kerman was saved from what seemed to be inevitable death, he vowed to build a place of worship as a token of thankfulness to God.
According to irangazette.com, an inscription shows that Mozaffari Grand Mosque was built in 1329 CE and its costs were borne by Mohammad Mozaffar, the ruler of Kerman.
After the mosque was built, other buildings including ‘Aqa Seyyed Ali Mojtahed Courtyard’ and a chapel were built to the eastern side. Taqi Khan Dorrani also rebuilt part of the mosque in 1755 CE.
The mosque has four porticos and there is a big, beautiful altar in the large portico which is framed by a green marble stone, inscribed by beautiful calligraphies.
This mosque is located on Shahid Fathalishahi Street and dates back to the reign of Al-e Mozaffar in the 8th century AH. The entrance to the mosque is adorned with beautiful tiles which appeals to visitors.
Emam (Malek) Mosque
Malek Mosque, the oldest as well as the biggest in Kerman, is reminiscent of the rule of Malek Touran, a Seljuq king, who had built it along with Malek Pool, to serve as a place of worship for the Sufis, a garrison, a bathhouse, as well as a hospital. It was the sole mosque in the city until the Mozaffari Grand Mosque was built.
There were four bathhouses around the mosque all of which were destroyed to make room for Sheikholeslam bathhouse.
Up to about 40 years ago there was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the mosque which was four meters deep and was known locally as ‘Ab Mastoureh’ (or Hidden Water). It was used for ablution in preparation for daily prayers.
Green Cupola is located in one of the early neighborhoods of Kerman along Abu Hamed Street. It dates back to the Qarakhtai era (614-704 AH) and is a collection of a mosque and tomb. Boraq Hajeb (died in 632 AH) is known to have built the complex. It is said that he was buried at Turkabad School which was built by him. An excellent dome was also built in the school which is his burial place. The cupola is currently known as Green Cupola. Some have ascribed the building to Tarkan Khatoun and maintain that it once served as a place for learning science and literature and was, in fact, the first university in Kerman. In the course of history, the structure has been damaged a lot and now the only remaining part is the entrance. The most beautiful part of the building is the tile-work on top of the portico and two spiral columns on its sides. The building is held in high esteem by the people of Kerman.
Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine
The shrine of Shah Nematollah Vali is where mystics come together and is about seven centuries old. The building was first planned by Ahmad Shah Bahmani Deccani, the king of Deccan in India who founded the main building. The inscription on the entrance of the building says that it was built in 840 AH. The inscription is a valuable work of art which has not gone unnoticed by experts.
The complex includes courtyards and other sections which are as follows when one moves from the street toward the interior of the mosque: Atabaki courtyard, Vakil-ol-Molki courtyard, Modir-ol-Molki portico, the shrine, Shah Abbasi portico, Mirdamad courtyard and Hosseiniyeh courtyard.
Moshtaqiyeh of Kerman
Moshtaqiyeh is a three-domed structure which contains the tombs of Moshtaq Alishah, Sheikh Esmaeil, and Kowsar Alishah who were among the leading Sufis of their time. The site was constructed after 1202 AH and was the burial ground for Mirza Hossein Khan Rayeni, who once ruled in Kerman. After Moshtaq Alishah was killed in Ramadan, 1206 AH, he was buried at the entrance of the Grand Mosque of Kerman along with his close friend Dervish Jafar. From that time it was called Moshtaqiyeh. The building is located in a square by the same name and the Grand Mosque of Kerman is located to the west of this structure. The trees in the courtyard of Moshtaqiyeh have added to its beauty.
Khajeh Atabak Mausoleum
This building was constructed in the sixth century near the end of Seljuq rule in one of the old neighborhoods of Kerman. It is known as Bazaar Shah Neighborhood. Khajeh Atabak was a mystic as well as a political figure of the Seljuq era and author of Aqd-ol-Ola. He ran all the affairs of Kerman in the 20-year interregnum after the rule of Toghrol Shah’s sons.
The building is octagonal from outside and quadrangle from inside. Outer walls are adorned with beautiful plaster work and tile-work with designs which were customary during Seljuq rule. The building has an altar as well as plaster inscriptions where verses of the Qur’an are written in Kufic script. At the foot of the altar, there is a beautiful stone inscription below which the tomb of Khajeh Atabak is located.
This is a holy shrine at Joupar town, which is located near Kerman. The shrine was built by Safavid kings and completed and developed under the Qajar rule. The complex includes a courtyard, a shrine, a dome and porticos and was inspired by the dome of Shah Nematollah Vali in Mahan. There are two hostels for pilgrims and also, Jame’-ol-Rasoul Mosque, a caravanserai and a traditional market are attached to it.
The church, located on Dr. Shariati Street after Vali Asr Square (National Garden), was built in 1941 by the famous architect of Kerman, Ali Mohammad Ravari. The building includes a gathering hall and several rooms. There is a beautiful portico on the opposite side of the complex and the entire building is surrounded by a green area. The gathering hall was built of bricks and there are beautiful arches surrounded by windows with colored glass. The altar has also been decorated with Safavid style paintings and tile-work. When the last priest left Kerman, the church was practically abandoned.
Zoroastrian Fire Temple
The fire temple is located on Zarisef Street, Mirza Borzou Amiqi Avenue and is considered the last fire temple built by the Zoroastrians of Kerman. There used to be other fire temples like that, which were built in Shahr neighborhood. They were closed down later when the new fire temple became operational.
The current fire temple includes a beautiful garden, which once was the residence of Jahangir Ashidari and was turned into a fire temple. The fire kept there, as Zoroastrian priests maintain, is the same as the several-thousand- year old fire which was first transferred from India to Shahr neighborhood before being placed in the new fire temple. The fire temple is more than 40 years old. Of course, there was another fire temple in Qanatestan neighborhood which has been totally destroyed.