On 23 May 2016, the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) organized a celebration focused on the historical churches of Iran, as part of a series of events to mark Cultural Heritage Week.
The gathering, with the theme of “Cultural Heritage and Peace” took part in the museum of the Armenian Church of Holy Mary in the center of Tehran, and was attended by Dr. Beheshti, Head of the ICHHTO Research Center; Dr. Talebian, Deputy Head of ICHHTO; Mr. Biglerian; Armenian Representative in Parliament; representatives of the Armenian Embassy in Tehran, and many others.
Ms. Avdian, Site Manager of the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, which were registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2008, provided an overview of the functions of the different monasteries.
In his speech, Mr. Biglerian, Armenian Representative in Parliament, talked about the historical co-existence of Christians, Jews and Muslims in his native city of Isfahan and the tolerance and mutual respect that has existed their for centuries.
Ms. Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, commended ICHHTO for the special focus on historical churches in Iran within a regional context increasingly marked by intolerance, extremism and the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in an attempt to wipe out cultural and religious diversity.
“The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran are examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They bear testimony to very important interchanges with other regional cultures, in particular the Byzantine, Orthodox and Persian cultures. And these churches are the last regional remains of this culture that are still in a satisfactory state of integrity and authenticity. Furthermore, as places of pilgrimage, the monastic ensembles are living witnesses of Armenian religious traditions through the centuries”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche. “The monasteries that have been registered as UNESCO World Heritage Sites are universal symbols of tolerance and understanding”.
After some Armenian musical performances, Dr. Talebian unveiled the 9th volume of the National Heritage Magazine and the guests were able to visit the museum and the historical church.
Cultural Heritage Week is celebrated annually in Iran during the month of May with many events throughout the country. The Week provides an important opportunity to highlight Iran’s rich cultural diversity and ancient heritage.