Սալմաստ (Salmas) | Historic Armenian Cities Campaign
Salmas is located in the northwestern frontiers of Iran near the eastern border of Turkey. According to Encyclopedia Britannica the earliest historic recognition of Salmas could be found at the time of Ardashir I's reign (224–242 AD) via a petroglyph of him on horseback while receiving surrender of the Parthian personage. There are many controversies over the origin behind the name of Salmas. Throughout history, some people have called it Zaravand. Documents and maps from the 7th century Armenian geographer and mathematician Anania Shirakatsi, indicate Armenian presence and influence in the region. The region was under the Armenian authority even during the times of Ardashirs and Arshagounis.
Armenians continued to live in the area up until the outbreak of Russo-Persian war in 1826. During the two year battle between the Persians and Russian, Armenian fled the region and settled in Eastern Armenia. Many ancient and historic ruins of schools, theaters and churches can be found in Salmas. Cemeteries and tombstones, and a few churches, monasteries, and cathedrals that date back to 8th century are still standing strong within the region. The most famous of which is the St. Thaddeus Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and has been a center for Eastern Christian pilgrims for many centuries. Another cultural center for Armenians are the ruins of Raffi’s house – the renowned Armenian writer who was born in the Payajouk village of Salmas. The historic Lake Urmia is also located within the province of Salmas.
Salmas furthermore has not only been an important religious and cultural center, but was also central for Armenian revolutionary activity. The bodies of many fedayis or members of Armenian militias are laid to rest outside of Christian cemetery in the Mahlam village of Salmas Province. These soldiers fought against the tribal Kurdish/Turkish/Azeri forces that were out to massacre Armenians and pillage their villages. In addition to the multitude of figures from the Armenian national movement, the renowned novelist Raffi, the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, was also from the region.