Tomb of Esther and Mordechai
Hamedan is famous as the capital of history and civilization in Iran; the remaining of Ecbatana city, stone lion, Ganjnameh inscriptions, Avicenna and Baba Tahir mausoleums, Alavian dome etc., caused this city to be introduced as the Tourism Capital of Asian Countries in 2018.
Enter Sharitati street by a little walking from Imam Khomeini square, an old and original street with historical buildings like Qajar house, seminary and houses that have Pahlavi balconies. Tomb of Esther and Mordechai is also placed here just in front of Zanganeh seminary, inside a not so wide alley. This region was the Jewish settlement many years ago and the area surrounding the tomb was also the cemetery of the Jew community. Some part of the cemetery was occupied by a great landowner during the reign of Naser al-Din Shah and the cemetery was transferred to another place by his order. Many years later, in time of Pahlavi I, some part of this cemetery and the area of the mausoleum were destroyed by extending the road.
Through a not so old metal door and after some stairs, you will enter a large courtyard; here is the yard of the mausoleum. The building of mausoleum with a square, domed plan made of brick and stone door appears in front of you. In fact, the door was locked from inside in the past and it would open and close by a key. Later, during 1980 restorations, many changes were made in the building that replacing the metal lock is one of them.
The antiquity of façade and the architectural style of this building reaches to Islamic period in Iran when the dome was the main indicator. According to the guide of the monument, the lower parts of this building is related to 2500 years ago. But the dome was added above the ruins of past centuries that goes back to 700 years ago. You must bend to enter the interior space of mausoleum and pass an overall stone door. You will reach a nested room in which there are two tombs. The southern tomb is related to the queen of Xerxes, Esther, that has a carved and older box than the other one.
The carved box of the second tomb backs to 1300 AH and is made of ebony wood. This is the tomb of Esther’s uncle, Mordechai. Wood carving of Mordechai mausoleum was carried out by Enayatollah ibn Hazrat Qoli Tuyserkani, one of the famous woodcarvers of the time. In addition to Herbew inscriptions on the walls of these two tombs, these sentences have been carved on the box of Esther’s tomb: “This box was created by the glory of the state, Yohreqiā, Yashuā and Yashal, all the brothers of the lady, Jamal-e Sattam, by the order of a pure, virtuous lady,”
The tombs are covered with fabrics that all are the Jewish vows. The next room is the place of holding the prayer ceremonies, with chairs arranged around and tables in the middle.
The Jew believe that Esther and Mordechai are related to Jacob through fifteen generations that is why this mausoleum is the second shrine of the Jew in Iran and the world. In the books such as Esther and The Old Testament, the story of Esther and Mordechai has been narrated in this way: Xerxes invited his queen, Vashti, to participate in a ceremony in Susa. She rejected the request and the king banished her to find another beautiful queen. Mordechai who was Jewish and had left his hometown, Jerusalem, had a cousin named Hadaseh who was also called Esther. She was grown by Mordechai and taken to the court and called “Queen” by him. Mordechai discovered two attempts against the king and therefore became closer to him. This aroused the jealousy of Haman, one of the relatives of the king and he ordered the Jew to be massacred. Esther realized and prevented this by her influence on Xerxes. In this way, she saved the Jew from a horrible slaughter. Then afterward the Jew appreciate this day, 15 Azra, that is match with the late Esfand and the early Farvardin. They gather in the mausoleum of Esther and Mordechai in this day to celebrate it.
Some don’t believe in this narrative and say that Esther is the same Ishtar goddess and Mordechai is the same Marduk god of Babylon. Haman is Homban, the Elamite god who was constantly in war with them, and this place had been the temple of the two.