Tbilisi Ateshgah Restored

The Tbilisi Ateshgah (آتشګاه, aka Atashgah or Fire Temple) was under restoration when I visited it in 2007. That work is now complete and, mercifully, the restorers

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have been gentle. The old brickwork has been cleaned, and in a few places discreetly repaired, but has largely been left “as is”, without any gross tampering. A perspex roof has been added to protect the site from the elements.

Authentic Zoroastrian fire temples are extremely rare, especially outside Iran (the Atashgah at Baku is an 18th century Parsi construction). According to the sign outside the Tbilisi temple, it is believed that it was built between the 5th and 7th centuries, and later spend a while as a mosque, while retaining its old name as “Ateshgah”. This seems reasonably plausible as Tbilisi was under Persian occupation and influence for a while. Zoroastrianism (like Christianity) was loosely tolerated under Islam, so the Ateshgah might easily have survived in active use for several centuries after the 7th c. Arab invasion.

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