«Architecture … initiated … with decoration of tombs.»
Will Durant, story of civilization, 1st volume.
Many people, even those who live in Tehran, don`t know that there are many historical cemeteries (about 140) in Tehran. Overall area of these places is about 100 hectares which is noticeable in a dense city like Tehran. Unfortunately, these cemeteries are abandoned and ignored and gently being destroyed and are in very poor quality situations.
First main cemetery in Tehran located in a place which now named as «Sar-e-ghabr-e-Aghe». This small place that now a day is located in central core of city and near Bazaar, was efficient for Tehran up to 150 years ago (1869 A.D.) that its population reached to less than 100 thousand people.
After expanding the borders of Tehran, the sites around the holy tombs in Rey, an old city in south of Tehran, have been noticed for the purpose of burying the death. «Ebn-e-Babooye», «Mashallah mosque», «Tomb of Abdollah and Bibi Zobeydeh» and «Baghcheh Toti» are the most famous cemeteries there. Fortunately, most of these places have not been destroyed and are great cultural treasures for Tehran.
On the other hand, all villages near Tehran jointed to it after city`s expansion and all holy tombs which are now located in the city, have a small cemetery. In addition, since about 60 years ago, a big cemetery, «Mesgar Abad» in south-east of Tehran had established and now it has ruined.
In 1970, influenced by modernism thoughts, a new huge cemetery has been established out of the city and far away from its border in south of Tehran. Up to now, it is the main cemetery of the city and more than one million people were buried there.
All the minorities groups who live in Tehran, according to their religious (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians and Bahais) have their own cemetery. In «Doolaab» Neighbor there are 5 charming historical cemeteries. Also other cemeteries are in south-east of Tehran (near «Mesgar Abad»).
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, most of cemeteries are in very poor quality and being ruined. Governors, intellectuals, researchers and citizens pay no attention to these spaces (except few famous cemeteries) and may believe that they should be modified to new public land-use like parks. But I myself believe that the importance of the cemeteries (generally or locally) is much more than they are being ruined and eliminated because of:
1- Cemeteries, generally, are ritual spaces; these spaces demonstrate the beliefs of the people toward death. A cemetery is space in which obviously can be realized the importance or lacking importance of death between a civilization. Notification to death accompanied with special ceremonies has a great influence on people`s life and their behaviors. Notice to the death and even the changing of it can be easily comprehended by visiting cemeteries in all cities, also in Tehran.
2- Cemetery is a spiritual space; according to the religious beliefs, cemeteries are specific place. Many logion (prophet`s words) have been quoted about the importance of cemeteries. Islamic ideology emphasizes on the locating cemeteries in or nearby the neighborhoods. On the other hand, cemetery is a hegemonic space in religious and ethnic belief.
3- Cemeteries are artistic-historical object; tombs and graves include many cultural signs and symbols. Many of grave stones individually can be observed as an artistic object, and if they belong to old past, a historic value adds them. Cemeteries of Tehran are places in which there are great amount of cultural heritages.
4- Cemetery is the memory of a place; every single grave stone is like a stamp mark been put on a place and addresses the past of that place and identifies its neighbor. Also many famous lie in these cemetries that were significant in history.
I believe that these valuable spaces should be preserved and each of them has to be planned individually in order to increase their quality. New spaces are not some thing like other ordinary land-uses. They are some unique things which give to city identification and sense of place.
In conclusion, I propose you to visit some of these places.
1- «Ebn-e-Babooye», «Mashallah mosque», «Tomb of Abdollah and Bibi Zobeydeh» , «Baghcheh Toti» and «Bibi Shahr Banoo» in Rey.
2- 5 cemeteries in «Doolaab» (French, Russian, Catholic, Assyrian and Armenian).
3- «Zahir al Doleh» in «Tajrish».
4- Jewish cemetery in «khavaran».
5- Cemetery of dead soldiers in World War II in «Dolat».
6- Cemeteries in «Kan», «Farahzad», «Bagh-e-Feyz», «Poonak», «Yaft abad», «Lavizan», «Chizar», «Daar abad» and «Emamzadeh Ghasem».