Tbilisi Ateshgah – An ancient Zarathushtrian Fire Temple
The Tbilisi Ateshgah (آتشګاه, aka Atashgah or Fire Temple) was under restoration in 2007. That work is now complete and, mercifully, the restorers 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 18thcentury Zoroastrian 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.
The Ateshgah exterior is a largely featureless brick cuboid, perhaps 20 feet on a side. There are steps leading up to a pair of stout wooden doors just to the left of the Ateshgah. These open into what at first looks like a private family courtyard, but if you turn right actually leads into the Ateshgah interior. There is a new wooden floor, but they have left parts of the original floor exposed. There are no windows, but instead there are blank arches on each face.
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NOTE: the site has been updated on Google Earth, you will have a better view if you look for the VIEW in 2008/ 2009 as the 2013 view shows changes…………RUSI SORABJI.