5th-century church in northwestern Iran being reinforced
A project to restore and reinforce the ancient Saint John Church has begun in the village of Sohrol, near Shabestar city in East Azarbaijan province, the deputy provincial tourism chief has announced.
The project involves the reinforcement of the church’s main structure and its foundation, as well as repairing the damaged parts, Alireza Quchi said on Saturday. Rehabilitation work has been ongoing on the historical structure for the past several years in order to make it stronger, the official added. Last year retaining walls for stabilizing soil around the monument were constructed to prevent it from being swept away by a landslide, he explained. Also known as Sohraqeh Church, the Armenian Catholic church was built in circa 5th century, but it was rebuilt on the older church foundation in 1840 by Samson Makintsev, a Russian general in the service of Iran during the Qajar era. The historical monument was inscribed on the National Heritage list in 1968. Iran is home to several ancient and historical churches. Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians are the most significant religious minorities in the country with Christians constituting the bulk. Iranian Azarbaijan was the center of several ancient civilizations. It formed part of Urartu and later of Media. In the 4th century BC, it was conquered by Alexander the Great and was named Atropatene after one of Alexander’s generals, Atropates, who established a small kingdom there. The area returned to Persian (Iranian) rule under the Sasanians in the 3rd century CE.