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Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Mary in Tehran

Without a doubt, when there is talk of the Greeks’ presence in Iran, most people think of the time when Alexander the Great invaded the Ancient Persia. However, the Greeks’ migration to Iran has also a more recent history of which few Iranians are aware. The perdurable proof of this recent presence would be the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Mary in Tehran which is at Taleghani Intersection facing the former US Embassy; a white building in the tradition of the Greek temples which many Tehranis might have passed numerous times but know little about.

 

But Where Does the Story Begin?

According to the documents presented by the Greek residents of Iran, the Orphanidis Family who came to Iran for business during the Qajar Period could be considered as the first Greek residents of Iran. Also, a young priest who came to Tehran as a Christian missionary at that time established the first Church for the Greek residents of Iran near Molavi Street in Tehran. A church whose fate was yet to unfold and only a few people even knew about it after the death of the Christian missionary.

 

The turning point of the Greeks’ presence in Iran was the time period between the two World Wars. The time when the First World War broke out and the Greeks who were living in Anatoly immigrated to Russia in order to save their lives from the Ottoman Empire’s cruel genocide. However, after a short period of time, the Communist Government took over the country and that deteriorated the Greeks’ living conditions severely.

Consequently, some of the Greeks decided to move permanently to Iran and particularly to Gilan Province. Finally, the war-stricken Greeks who had endured years of pain and suffering from the war and the obligatory migration could for the first time in their lives find a secure land similar to their own. They decided to build a church in the city of Rasht which would be the first official church for the Greeks in Iran.

 

Several years after the inauguration of the Church, the Minneapolis Family who were the true founders of the Church decided to move to Tehran for life along with another Greek group and consequently the mentioned Church was abdicated to the Americans who were living in the city of Rasht.

 

Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Mary in Tehran; A Monumental Building

Around the year 1933 which marks the time when a large number of the Greeks became residents of Tehran, Miss Ourga Minneapolis purchased a piece of land at Persepolis Intersection in Tehran (the current Taleghani Intersection) and with the financial help of the rest of the Greek residents inaugurated the Church’s current building. This Church was built in 7 years by a Gregorian architect named George and in the style of the Greek churches with a rectangular shape which had combined the architecture of the Ancient Greece with the Byzantine Architecture.

 

The general shape and the façade of the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Mary in Tehran are similar to the Pantheon Temple which is one of the most well-known temples of the Ancient Greece.

The interior space and the inner walls of the Church are blue, the national color of Greece. There are paintings on the wall in the style of Michelangelo which recount the story of Jesus Christ’s life, and also the white stucco work and the Roman columns at each side of the building give a unique appearance to the Church.

 

There are large paintings that illustrate the great figures of Christianity at four sides of the Church and add to the glory and magnificence of the place. There is also the marble King’s Throne which according to the followers of this Church will be the pulpit from which Jesus Christ will rise at the time of his resurrection.

 

In the Church Yard, there is a building for an organization responsible for the Greek residents in Iran. This building was utilized to host their cultural ceremonies and until 15 years ago, it was open to Iranians as well.

Currently, the Church which is officially owned by the Greece Government is closed down and can only be accessed with a warrant from the Embassy of Greece.

 

Also, and unfortunately, being near to the first line of Tehran Metro, the building has suffered some minor damages lately; Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Mary in Tehran is known to be the most beautiful church outside Greece, and have hosted a number of exclusive gatherings for the Greek natives who live outside their home country.

 

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8/5/2017 7:46:36 PM

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David Eickhoff on 10/10/2018
Dear Michael, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. Great respect is due to your grandfather for that awesome charitable work. Could you please get in touch with us here at the Doulab Grave Mapping Project (www.doulabcemetery.com) as we have some questions regarding the Greek Church in Tehran? Thanks a lot and kind regards, David Dear admin, in case you have Michael's e-mail address, could you please forward him our request? Thanks in advance.
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Dear David

Comment Code: 8287

Salam!

Thank you very much for your feedback. We really appreciate it. Sure, below is Michael's email address.

micmerica@aol.com


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IranTours Group

 


Michael Merica on 8/29/2018
This church , The churn of the Annunciation of the holy Mother of God was commission and built through the generosity and patriotism of my grandfather, Theodoros Merikas and my father Romilos Merikas , who funded its creation (75% of the funds) and through the generosity of the Georgopoulos family as well as many Greek families that were part of a thriving Greek community in Tehran from 1928 . My Grandfather Theodoros Merikas was awarded the order of the Golden Phoenix and my father the order of the Silver Phoenix by King Paul of Greece for their decades-long contributions to Greece and for their instrumental role in the creation of this church. I feel the need to point this out in reverence and respect for their memory. Respectfully Michael Merica ( Michalis Merikas)
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Thank You

Dear Michael Merica

Comment Code: 7631

Salam!

Thank you very much for your feedback. We really appreciate it.


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IranTours Group