Tomb of Esther and Mordechai – Hamedan, Iran - Atlas Obscura

Tomb of Esther and Mordechai

The most sacred Jewish shrine in Iran and a fine example of restoration works gone wrong. 


Located in Hamadan, Iran, the Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is an important pilgrimage site for Iranian Jews.

According to scripture, Esther was a beautiful Jewish girl who was chosen to be the wife of king Xerxes I in Persia. She lived in Iran with her cousin and guardian Mordechai. Mordechai offended the king’s chief adviser Haman, who then resolved to kill all Jews in Persian empire as revenge. Queen Esther was able to foil this plan, saving the Jews and leading to the end of the adviser Haman’s life instead. Mordechai was positioned as a king’s adviser after that. Both Esther and Mordechai obtained a status as prophets in the history of Jewish people.

Their final resting place in Hamedan is a special place of worship and has been maintained in a good condition. Over the years, the building has been restored and repainted several times. However the eagerness and efforts of restaurators has changed many of the interior description notes on the walls. These have been written in Hebrew originally but after many overpaintings, the writings have changed so considerably that by now the text does not make much sense.

The main architect, Elias Gabbay who devised the works has later noticed that many of the ancient characters of the complex have retained their appearance. For example, the roof of a nearby synagogue shows a shape of a Jewish Star, as visible from Google Earth—not a common thing that you could expect to find in a contemporary Iran.

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