Sunday, May 9, 2010
Haykashen is a private vacation community/town in Northern Iran on the coast of the Caspian Sea. The name of the community takes its roots from Hayk, a legendary forefather of Armenians. Haykashen is semi-autonomous and the judicial system of Iran based on Islamic Law does not apply within the community’s borders. Islamic laws (such as hijab and drinking) have been stopped at the gates of Haykashen and for the first time in Iran, a non-Islamic court has been established in this city. The police force is also from Armenians and Iranian muslims are not permitted to enter this city. Haykashen community consists of a church, shops, restaurants and the entertainment centers.
The community’s church is located in the close proximity of the city of Noor. Its construction was completed in 1974. The outside walls are concrete while inside the walls are plastered with stucco. The church is octagonal in shape with various tall and narrow windows surrounding it. The church is settled on a 5-meter tall platform with 2 sets of stairways leading to its main entrance. Above the main entrance is the church steeple which is also octagonal and rises 5 meters high.
Established and administered by Father Nerses Tosunian of the Armenian Catholic Church, Haykashen caters to over 30,000 vacationers every year. During the Iran-Iraq war, over 15,000 Armenians found refuge there.