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Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran | Outstanding examples of Armenian architecture

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran consists of three photogenic churches: St. Thaddeus Monastery and the Chapel of Dzordoz that are located in Western Azerbaijan province, and Saint Stepanos Monastery that is located in Eastern Azerbaijan province. These magnificent edifices were inscribed in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List as cultural heritages in 2008. Although they had many renovations in different times, they are still so elegant and eye-catching that attract many tourists each year from all around the world.

Monastery of Saint Thaddeus

St. Thaddeus Monastery is also known as ‘’Qara Kelisa’’ or the black church because of the black stone used in its structure. It has two sections; an older section known as ‘’Black Church’’ and the newer and bigger section known as ‘’White Church’’. It is about 20 kilometers away from Maku.

The name of this monument comes from a Saint, also known as St. Jude, whose mission was to evangelize Persia and was buried where the monastery is located now. This Monastery is said to be one of the oldest churches in the world for its construction dates back to the 7th century. This marvelous ancient church has bas-reliefs of flowers, animals and human figures on its façade and exterior walls.

Having a very unique structure in its time, this place is not only very famous among Catholic tourists, but also among the people who love and enjoy travel and history.

Saint Stepanos Monastery

Saint Stepanos Monastery stands in about 17 kilometers  away from the green nature of Jolfa city in Eastern Azerbaijan and in the famous valley of ‘’ Sham” , that include  8 Armenian Churches and holy places.

This monastery is the second most important Armenian Church in Iran after St. Thaddeus and got its name from Stephanos or Stephan, who was the first Christian martyr. It has marvelous inner and outer designs based on Armenian architecture and there are paintings covering its interior walls.

Chapel of Dzordoz

Being the smallest of the monastics, it is also known as the Chapel of the Holy Marry or in the local language, ‘’Zor Zor’’ church. The name comes from a famous painter who supervised the church’s restoration for some time. The current structure is a remnant of a large monastery that was relocated 600 meters away from where it used to stand, due to the submergence resulting from a dome that was built on Makuchay River, close to the monastery.

In conclusion, according to UNESCO, these edifices are the examples of outstanding universal value of the Armenian architectural and decorative traditional.

* Written by Arefeh Firouzan. iranindepth.com