Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

Christianity in Iran dates back to its early times. In the third century although the Persians had gained success in their constant struggles against the Romans, an internal rebellion within the Persian Empire resulted in the overthrow of the Parthian dynasty by the Sassanian dynasty in 226 AD. The Sassanians ruled Persia for four centuries until the arrival of Islam. The policies of the Sassanians had considerable effect on the life of the Christian community in Persia but Christianity was always a minority religion compared to the state religion of Zoroastrianism.

After the Islamic conquest of Persia, Christians had the status of a protected group, concentrated in West Azerbaijan province, and they were known by different names such as Nestorian, Assyrian, and Chaldean. Between the years 1604 to 1617 the Safavid Shah Abbas I (1588-1629) forcibly transported thousands of Christian Armenians from their homeland and resettled them in different parts of Persia, mainly around Isfahan. The Nestorians and Armenians are still the main groups of indigenous Christians in the country.

 

To date, several Christian churches and temples have been preserved in the territory of modern Iran, attracting a large number of Christians especially from neighboring Armenia.

Currently there are at least 600 churches and 500,000–1,000,000 Christians in Iran.
The three churches included in the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran are the Monastery of St. Thaddeus, the Monastery of St. Stepanos, and the Chapel of Dzordor.

 

The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus is an ancient Armenian monastery in the mountainous area of West Azerbaijan province.
Also known as Qareh Kelisa (Black Church), this splendid structure is located about 20 km from the town of Chaldiran. The monastery and its distinctive Armenian conical roofs are visible from long distances.

 

The Monastery of Saint Stepanos, also known in Armenian as Maghardavank, is located about 15 km northwest of the city of Julfa in the province of East Azerbaijan, in northwestern Iran. According to legend this exquisite church was built by Saint Bartholomew (An apostle of Jesus) in 62 AD.

 

The Chapel of Dzordzor, also known as St. Mary’s Chapel, is
near Maku in West Azerbaijan province. The chapel is the remains of what was once a large monastic ensemble. It was initially constructed at the junction of two rivers; the chapel was moved stone by stone to a site 600 meters away to prevent it from being flooded when a dam was built. After its construction, the church was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes and reconstructed.

 

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran are excellent representatives of the Armenian religious and architectural traditions and testaments to the substantial cultural interchange between the other regional cultures of the Byzantine, Orthodox, Persian, and Assyrian.

 

Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran

Christianity in Iran dates back to its early times. In the third century although the Persians had gained success in their constant struggles against the Romans, an internal rebellion within the Persian Empire resulted in the overthrow of the Parthian dynasty by the Sassanian dynasty in 226 AD. The Sassanians ruled Persia for four centuries until the arrival of Islam. The policies of the Sassanians had considerable effect on the life of the Christian community in Persia but Christianity was always a minority religion compared to the state religion of Zoroastrianism.

After the Islamic conquest of Persia, Christians had the status of a protected group, concentrated in West Azerbaijan province, and they were known by different names such as Nestorian, Assyrian, and Chaldean. Between the years 1604 to 1617 the Safavid Shah Abbas I (1588-1629) forcibly transported thousands of Christian Armenians from their homeland and resettled them in different parts of Persia, mainly around Isfahan. The Nestorians and Armenians are still the main groups of indigenous Christians in the country.

 

To date, several Christian churches and temples have been preserved in the territory of modern Iran, attracting a large number of Christians especially from neighboring Armenia.

Currently there are at least 600 churches and 500,000–1,000,000 Christians in Iran.
The three churches included in the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran are the Monastery of St. Thaddeus, the Monastery of St. Stepanos, and the Chapel of Dzordor.

 

The Monastery of Saint Thaddeus is an ancient Armenian monastery in the mountainous area of West Azerbaijan province.
Also known as Qareh Kelisa (Black Church), this splendid structure is located about 20 km from the town of Chaldiran. The monastery and its distinctive Armenian conical roofs are visible from long distances.

 

The Monastery of Saint Stepanos, also known in Armenian as Maghardavank, is located about 15 km northwest of the city of Julfa in the province of East Azerbaijan, in northwestern Iran. According to legend this exquisite church was built by Saint Bartholomew (An apostle of Jesus) in 62 AD.

 

The Chapel of Dzordzor, also known as St. Mary’s Chapel, is
near Maku in West Azerbaijan province. The chapel is the remains of what was once a large monastic ensemble. It was initially constructed at the junction of two rivers; the chapel was moved stone by stone to a site 600 meters away to prevent it from being flooded when a dam was built. After its construction, the church was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes and reconstructed.

 

The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran are excellent representatives of the Armenian religious and architectural traditions and testaments to the substantial cultural interchange between the other regional cultures of the Byzantine, Orthodox, Persian, and Assyrian.

 

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