Kara Kilise


After the Arab invasion, Iran was known as a Muslim country and has carried this labile ever since. However, the truth is that at least in the distant past, although one religion (Zoroastrianism or Islam) has always been the official religion of the country, other religions also have strong roots in Iran.

There are Judaism, Christianity, and even lesser-known primitive rituals in Iran, each of which can be discussed separately.


This blog is dedicated to one church that is said to have been the first cathedral in the entire Christian world. One of Christ’s apostles is buried in the heart of it and it’s so famous that people from all over Iran and the world come to visit it, either as a pilgrim or a tourist.

For this reason, UNESCO registered this cathedral and the pilgrimage ritual of the church in the World Heritage List in the name of Iran.

Iran is not only a land created by Ahura Mazda, it has become acquainted with and has become accustomed to Allah, but has always had the unconditional kindness and love of Christianity within it.

Kara Kilise


In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we enter the Church of St. Thaddeus (or Saint Thaddeus Cathedral or in Persian Kara Kilise) to see where the mysteries of this world heritage will take us.

Kara Kilise or the Church of St. Thaddeus (Saint Thaddeus Cathedral) is the name of a historical church in Iran and the province of West Azerbaijan. This church is located 20 km northeast of Chaldoran. Saint Thaddeus Cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 7, 2008.

This church is the first Cathedral in the world. The word Kara is Turkish for black. Historians of the eighth century AD have occasionally commemorated the Church of Thaddeus and called it the “Kara Kilise.” Because the eastern part of the church building is made of black stones.


According to the famous Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, the construction of the Church of and the sepulcher of Saint Thaddeus in West Azerbaijan dates back to the early Christian period. 

Therefore, this church was the saint’s final home on earth and from there he entered the Father’s kingdom, hallowed by his name. Since 1243, the name “Church Saint Thaddeus” has been alternately seen in various works and books, especially in Armenian religious assemblies.

The cathedral includes a set of side spaces, two eastern and western courtyards, as well as 47 rooms. Each of these rooms belonged to the monks, students, scholars, and writers of the time, as well as to the church guards and the library.

Other parts of the church are also underground, including small dining areas, a kitchen, a mill, a distillery, a crypt, and other spaces on the west side.

Kara Kilise


Throughout its history, Saint Thaddeus Cathedral (or Kara Kilise) has been repeatedly attacked by powers and governments, and natural disasters have caused extensive damage, and it has been rebuilt by benefactors or others. The church also consists of two old black sections and a new white section, each has its own story to tell.

The issue of the pilgrimage to St. Thaddeus was jointly discussed with Armenia at the 15th session of UNESCO last year, and the judges of the committee unanimously agreed to register the pilgrimage ritual of Saint Thaddeus Cathedral (or Kara Kilise) as an Intangible World Heritage.

Pilgrimage to St. Thaddeus is a religious ritual in Iran, that Christians come to this historical place every year from different parts of the world and perform this ritual.

It is now registered as the 16th intangible heritage of Iran in UNESCO by the judges.


Kara Kilise in West Azerbaijan annually meets about 5,000 Christians of Iran and the world. In the first week of August, Christians come to Kara Kilise (or Saint Thaddeus Cathedral) from different cities. In addition to Christians, Assyrian families and, rarely, Catholic Christian families also attend.

One of the favorite rites during the three-day pilgrimage ritual is the baptismal rites of Christian children and teenagers in this Saint Thaddeus Cathedral.

Some believe that the baptism of their children in the first Cathedral of Jesus Christ and the place of the apostle’s martyrdom is a sign of their dedication to their faith. Some people baptize their children there with vows and intentions, and for this reason, the age of baptismal recipients sometimes reaches 15 or 20 years.



The days of families staying in Saint Thaddeus Cathedral are different. The custom is that they should stay there for three days (from the first to the third of Mordad, the fifth month of the Persian calendar, the second month of summer), but those who come from a long distance sometimes stay for more than three days. Families coming from nearby cities may only be there for the second day and then return.

Thaddeus or Tataeus (Tataus) was one of the apostles of Christ who came to Armenia (the land of Armenia at that time was a huge and important state of Iran) in the year 40 AD and preached Christianity. 

Later on, the governor of the state opposed this new religion, ordering the assassination of Thaddeus, Sandokht (his daughter), and another group of converts (about 3,500).


In 302 AD, during the reign of Tirdad, one of the kings of Armenia, Christianity became the official and universal religion in this state. These Christians, who have preserved the memory of the martyrdom of Thaddeus and Sandokht for generations, built churches in their place of escape.

According to the Persian Christians, Saint Thaddeus Cathedral (Tataeus) is the first Cathedral built in the world by the order of the evangelists and apostles of Christ, and because martyrdom is considered the greatest salvation a person of faith could reach, every year in the last days of Tir (4th-month of the Persian calendar) and the first week of Mordad that coincides with the assassination of St. Thaddeus and his Christian followers, they gather at Saint Thaddeus Cathedral and hold a ceremony known as the Pilgrimage ritual of Thaddeus.