Mehr Temple of Maragheh

Also known as: Mabad-e Mehr

Ancient Temple of Maragheh

A mysterious underground place of prayer dating back to thousands of years ago and  about 12Km far from Maragheh Observatory.


Mysterious Temple

The underground temple is known as the oldest Mithraist temple (Mehrabe) in Iran. Mithraism is the faith emerged before Zoroastrian in Persia. Mehr or Mithra is the deity of sun, who brings justice and affection, and at a time had been worshipped from India to europe. Mithraists believed Mithra as an angle born in a cave, that’s why they used to worship Mehr in any cave they thought the birthplace was probably there.

The stone temple is believed to have been built during the Arsacid dynasty (248BCE-224 CE). Given its stone structure and decorative elements, the temple is attributed to Parthian empire (247 BC – 224 AD) and Mithraism, which considered elements of nature including water, earth, fire and air as sacred. 


Architecture

Mehr Temple of Maragheh has a dome, a prime characteristic of Mithraist shrines. There are also different parts in the cave structure including altars, a main hall and two other chambers.


Multi-Faith Place of Prayer

The underground temple has been used as place of prayer by different religious groups throughout history. In the Ilkhanid era (1256-1353) it was used as a convent by Sufis. Centuries later during the Safavid era (1502 – 1736) the place turned into a place of pilgrimage after prominent Shia cleric Mollah Masoum Maraghi was buried there. The Quranic inscriptions on the wall of the main hall show the Islamic origins of the structure.


Underground Silence

The temple lies under an ancient cemetery. Experts believe much of the ancient structure is still buried under earth. Still, the underground structure, offers great sense of silence while sparking visitors' sense of curiosity about ancient mysterious site. 

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