Yerevan’s Blue Mosque to Be Submitted for UNESCO Heritage Site Consideration

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia will officially submit Yerevan’s Blue Mosque for consideration for UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site List, according to Deputy Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft, and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Mohammad Hossein Talebian.

Yerevan’s Blue Mosque (Photo: Travis Witt)

Talebian told reporters on Monday that Iran has officially discussed the matter with Armenian Ambassador to Iran Artashes Tumanyan.

Speaking to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), Talebian explained that the mosque needs to be renovated and that the Islamic Republic has prepared a renovation plan in conjunction with the Iranian embassy in Yerevan.

Last August, it was announced that Iran has officially allotted some $427,000 to the restoration of UNESCO-designated churches that are located in northwest of the country. The announcement was made at Saint Thaddeus Monastery, an ancient Armenian monastery that plays host to a religious gathering by the Christians in a mountainous landscape of West Azerbaijan province, adjacent to the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. In July 2008, the St. Thaddeus Monastery was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, along with two other Armenian monuments in the same province—the Monastery of Saint Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.

It was also announced last week that Iran plans to register the Holy Savior Cathedral (commonly referred to as Vank Cathedral) in the New Julfa district of Isfahan as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Late last year, the 12th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage added the Armenian traditional dance Kochari on its “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” list. “Kochari is a traditional dance that is widely performed throughout Armenia during holidays, festive celebrations, family ceremonies and other social events. It is open to all participants, irrespective of age, gender or social status,” reads a part of the dance’s entry on the UNESCO list.

The Blue Mosque (Kapuyt mzkit in Armenian, Masjed-e Kabud In Farsi) is an 18th century Shia mosque in downtown Yerevan. The mosque stopped services during the Soviet years and once housed the History Museum of Yerevan. Following Armenia’s independence in 1991, the mosque was renovated with support from the Iranian government. It has since been functioning as a mosque, mostly for Iranians residing in the country, and is currently the only active mosque in the country.


  1. Luckily, for this application, Armenia is not in Europe – so all the usual on-paper obligations and rules for a nomination to be successful, such as the monument having historical integrity and existing in a properly conserved state (not an Iranian-style “renovation”), do not apply in the reality of UNESCO being a political club rather than an educational and cultural preservation organisation. No doubt we will also be hearing the “monument to religious tolerance” nonsense because that worked for the Turks for Ani, A reward is also surely overdue from UNESCO for Armenia no longer pressuring UNESCO over its silence on Jugha’s destruction. UNESCO is mostly back-scratching and politicking – any actual cultural activities it engages in are a sideline.

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