Jan 8 2014
A majority of churches in Iran, which are of historical and artistic
importance, were built around 14th century CE and later.
Of course, this does not mean that there were no churches in the
country before that period.
In fact, the policies of Shah Abbas, the Safavid king, caused a sizable
number of Christians from Armenia and Azerbaijan to move and settle
in Isfahan and other regions of Iran, IranReview reported.
These migrating people settled in a place called Jolfa on the banks
of Zayandehroud River in Isfahan.
Consequently, churches were erected in that town. After a short lapse
of time, some Armenians moved to Gilan and some moved to Shiraz.
After the death of Shah Abbas I, his successor, Shah Abbas II, also
paid close attention to the welfare of Christians and more churches
were erected in Jolfa.
The influx of many Europeans during the Qajarid rule led to
the flourishing of other churches, in addition to those that were
constructed previously. A number of these edifices are of architectural
and artistic significance.
Hub of churches
East Azarbaijan province is host to the oldest churches in Iran. Among
the most significant are the St. Tatavous Cathedral, which is also
called Qara Kelissa (the black monastery). This is located at the
Siahcheshmeh border area south of Makou.
Another church known as Saint Stepanous is located 24 kilometers
south of Jolfa.
Generally, each church has a large hall for congregational prayers;
its foremost part is raised like a dais, adorned with the pictures
or images of religious figures and it also serves as an altar.
Here, candles are lighted and the church mass is conducted by the
priest. On the foreground is the praying congregation that faces the
platform where the priest is leading the rites in the church. This
is similar to the Muslim practice of praying facing the niche in
While the mass is being said, the people stand, kneel or sit depending
on what the rites require.
The structure of churches in Iran follows more or less the pattern of
Iranian architecture, or they are a mixture of Iranian and non-Iranian
St. Tatavous Church in Tehran
This edifice is located at Chaleh-Maidan, one of the oldest districts
of Tehran. It lies south of Seyyed Esmail Mausoleum, at the beginning
of the northern part of Armenians' Street.
The oldest church of Tehran was built during the reign of Qajar king,
Fath-Alishah. The building has a dome and four alcoves, an altar and
a special chair reserved for the Armenian religions leader or prelate.
The vestibule leading to the church contains the graves of prominent
non-Iranian Christians who died in Iran, and in the middle of
the churchyard, Gribaydof, the Czarist ambassador at the court of
Fathalishah, and his companions are laid to rest. They were killed
by the revolutionary forces of Tehran at that time.
In Bushehr, a church from the Qajar period is a good specimen of
Iranian architecture. All the windows are modeled after old Iranian
buildings and the colored panes are purely Iranian artwork.
St. Stepanous Church in Jolfa
This is another old church located at an intersection west of
Marand-Jolfa Highway and east of Khoy-Jolfa Road. Also having a
pyramidal dome, it is quite beautiful and far more pleasant to behold
than St. Tatavous church.
Its structure mostly resembles Armenian and Georgian architecture,
and the inside of the building is adorned with beautiful paintings
by Honatanian, a renowned Armenian artist.
Hayk Ajimian, an Armenian scholar and historian, recorded that the
church was originally built in 9th century CE, but repeated earthquakes
in the region completely destroyed the previous structure.
The church was rebuilt during the rule of Shah Abbas II.
St. Mary's Church in Tabriz
This church was built in 12th century CE. In his travel chronicles,
Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler who lived during 14th century
CE, mentions this church on his way to China.
For many years, Saint Mary's served as the seat of the Armenian
archbishop based in the region. It is a handsome edifice, with
different annexed buildings sprawled on a large area. A board of
Armenian peers governs the well-attended church.
Aside from the above three churches, there are others in the province
such as the old church built in Modjanbar Village, which is 50
kilometers from Tabriz.
Another one is the large Saint Sarkis Church, situated in Khoy,
which has survived from the time of Shah Abbas II.
St. Tatavous Cathedral
Initially, this church comprised a small hall with a pyramidal dome
on top and 12 crevices similar to the Islamic dome-shaped buildings
from the Mongol era. The difference was that the church dome was made
The main part of this pyramidal structure followed Byzantine (Eastern
Roman) architecture, including the horizontal and parallel fringes
made of white and black stones in the interior and black stones of
the building's facade.
Since the facade is dominated by black stones, the church was formerly
called Qara Kelissa (or black monastery) by the natives.
During the reign of Fath-Alishah, new structures were added to St.
Tatavous Church upon the order of Abbas Mirza, the crown prince,
and the governor of the region.
The renovations resulted in the enlargement of the prayer hall and
the small old church was converted into a prayer platform, holding
the altar, the holy ornaments and a place where the priest could lead
The bell tower and the church entrance were situated at one side of
the new building, but unfortunately, this part remained incomplete.
Meanwhile, due to border skirmishes and other political disturbances
in the area, the church was abandoned and ruined. Some minor repairs
have been carried out in recent years.
Each year, in summer, many Armenians from all parts of Iran travel
to this site for prayer and pilgrimage. They come by jeeps or trucks
after crossing a very rough mountainous passage.
They flock around the church, stay for a few days and perform their
religions ceremonies. For the rest of the year, however, the church
remains deserted in that remote area.
The additions made to St. Tatavous Church on the order of Abbas
Mirza consist of embossed images of the apostles on the facade and
decorations of flowers, bushes, lion and sun figures and arabesques,
all of which had been done by Iranian craftsmen.
St. Simon Church in Shiraz
This is another relatively important, but not so old church in Shiraz.
The large hall is completely done in Iranian style while the roof is
Roman. Small barrel-shaped vaults, many Iranian artworks and stained
glass windowpanes adorn the church.
Another church called the Glory of Christ, stands at Qalat, 34
kilometers from Shiraz. This building has survived from the Qajar
period and is surrounded by charming gardens.
The most important historical church in Iran is the old cathedral,
commonly referred to as Vank (which means "cathedral" in the Armenian
This large building was constructed during the reign of Shah Abbas I
and completely reflects Iranian architecture. It has a double-layer
brick dome that is very much similar to those built by the Safavids.
The interior of the church is decorated with glorious and beautiful
paintings and miniature works that represent biblical traditions and
the image of angels and apostles, all of which have been executed in
a mixture of Iranian and Italian styles. The ceiling and walls are
coated with tiles from the Safavid epoch.
At a corner of the large courtyard of the cathedral, offices and halls
have been built to accommodate guests, the Isfahan archbishop and
his retinue, as well as other important Armenian religious hierarchy
The church compound also includes a museum that is located in a
separate building. The museum displays historical records and relics,
and the edicts of Iranian kings dating back to the time of Shah Abbas
I. It also contains an interesting collection of artwork. Isfahan has
other historical churches, the most important of which is the Church
of Beit-ol-Lahm at Nazar Avenue. There is also the Yerevan Church in
Posted 10 January 2014 - 11:14 AM
Posted 07 October 2015 - 10:42 AM
ARMENIAN CHURCHES INCLUDED IN LIST OF WORLD'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CHURCHES
14:42 07/10/2015 Â" MISCELLANEOUS
Two Armenian churches are on the list of the world's 23 most beautiful
churches, according to the Daily Telegraph.
One of them is Bethlehem church in Iran. Also known as Bedkhem Church,
this Armenian Apostolic 17th-century church can be found in Isfahan,
Iran's showstopper Safavid city that bedecked each street with glorious
monuments and buildings. It is decorated with 72 exquisite paintings,
including depictions of the Last Supper and the Expulsion from Eden,
but its dome is most defiantly beautiful, with gilding, dainty
windows and fine detail. Isfahan is home to some 7,000 Armenians,
who live in the Jolfa quarter. Although they are required to obey
Islamic dress codes by law, they retain their own culture, identity,
language, and 16 churches.
Also included in the list is Church of Saint Stephanos, Iran. In
the very north-west of Iran, this isolated Armenian church sits in
a green, verdant valley that counters the belief that Iran is just
desert and mosque. The vaults, arches and dome are decorated with
murals and relief work, while the shrine contains Safavid-era chairs,
three images of Mary and Jesus, and four Bibles. Some believe that
the bones in the gilded reliquary are those of Saint Gregory.
Church of Saint Stephanos, Iran
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Posted 27 February 2016 - 12:23 PM
ISTANBUL ARMENIAN CHURCH TURNED INTO RECEPTION HALL
February 26, 2016 - 17:03 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenian protestant church inIstanbul's Beyoglu
district has been turned into a reception hall, Ermenihaber.am reports
The first and second floors of the building, which was built in 1850
and was in active use until 1922, served as a school and a church,
respectively. The Beyoglu municipality declared the church a public
domain in 1995.
Istanbul City Council member, representative of Turkey's Republican
People's Party (CHP) Hussein Sagi criticized the decision to use the
building for other purposes. "The head of Beyoglu district succeeded in
turning the historic church into a "multifunctional one," he ironized.
"The building was to be renovated, reopened for worship and returned to
its legal owners. What place of prayer has ever served as a reception
hall for engagement or wedding parties?" the official said.
Posted 27 February 2016 - 12:39 PM
HISTORIC CHURCH IN NORTHWEST TURKEY FOR SALE ON INTERNET FOR $1.5 MILLION
Hurriyet Daily news, Turkey
Feb 25 2016
BURSA - Anadolu Agency
A centuries-old church in northwestern Turkey has been put up for
sale for $1.5 million on an online shopping platform.
Having sustained severe damage in recent decades, the 300-year-old
church in the northwestern province of Bursa was put up for sale
online by a real estate agent on behalf of its owner, who lives abroad.
The church, registered by the Bursa General Directorate of Foundations
in 1986, is located near the Green Tomb and the Emir Sultan Tomb in
the SetbaÅ~_Ä± neighborhood.
The posting on www.sahibinden.com is titled "Church for sale, unique
and suitable for every use."
The real estate agent who placed the ad, Tayfun Ozenginler, told
Anadolu Agency that Bursa has many historic churches due to the
Armenian and Greek communities that lived there the years ago.
"This particular building has been used for many different purposes
since the exchange of population law [between Turkey and Greece],"
Ozenginler said, adding that he has already received a number of
enquiries about the advert.
"No one has agreed the demanded price so far but we will do our best
for the sellers," he said.
Posted 28 December 2016 - 10:53 AM
Armenian St. Gregory Church in Berezhany, Ukraine transferred to the Armenian Apostolic Church
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Posted 18 August 2017 - 10:08 AM
Thank you sir for your kind human act!!!!!!!!
TRT World, TurkeyAug 17 2017Turkish Imam goes the extra mile for ancient Armenian churchMetin Halici, an Imam of a mosque in Yozgat, Turkey is taking care of an ancient church based in the courtyard of the mosque.We keep this chapel clean and ready for worship because we care about people and respect their beliefs, Metin Halici says.
An Armenian church built in the year 120 AD by Anatolian priests, is located in the courtyard of Yozgat's Sarikaya Mosque in Turkey.
Besides a cross drawn on its door, the building does not look like a church from the outside.
However, Armenians still come from as far as the US and Argentina to worship there.
The Imam of the mosque Metin Halici, has taken it upon himself to keep both places of worship clean.
He grabs a broom and dust cloth to clean the ancient church a few days every week.
This is his story:
Watch the video at http://www.trtworld....ian-church-9717
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