Tehran church with giant cross demolished

Tehran church with giant cross demolished

(Photo: Ali Khodaverdi /

A 70-year-old Adventist church in central Tehran has been demolished, along with the giant concrete cross on its facade.

The 8m cross was the largest of its kind in the Iranian capital, and a rare prominent symbol of Christianity in the city.

It was also situated at the crossroads of what is known locally as the “Crossroads of Religions”, being close also to the house of a Jewish rabbi and Armenian Christian cafe on Jomhouri Avenue.

The church, which was built in 1949 and was one of two Adventist churches in the city, had been out of use for several years and in 2015 was completely gutted, including the destruction of two engravings of the Ten Commandments, which stood either side of the pulpit.

The church before it was gutted, with the Ten Commandments written on either side of the pulpit. (Photo:

The new owner had been seeking to redevelop the site for several years, but four years ago the national heritage organisation issued an order that special permission must be sought before the symbolic cross could be removed. 

The demolition finally went ahead on Saturday night, after the local mayor’s office granted permission.

Last year, the destruction of another historic building next door to the church, which dated back to the Qajar dynasty, and the felling of trees in a 20,000 square-metre garden in the north of Tehran led to criticism by MPs of the failure of government body EIKO to protect historic sites.

EIKO, which is under the direct supervision of the Supreme Leader, was also incriminated in the confiscation last year of a church in Tabriz, northwestern Iran, and the removal of its cross. However, after a national and international outcry, the cross was restored and it was later claimed the church had never been confiscated and the cross was only removed for repairs.

EIKO has taken ownership of several other Christian properties, including the Garden of Sharon retreat centre in Karaj, west of Tehran. Meanwhile, another organisation orchestrated by the Supreme Leader, the Mostazafan Foundation, has confiscated and repurposed other Christian properties including the bishop’s house in Isfahan – once the seat of the Anglican Church in Iran.