Vank Cathedral

The Vank Church is one of the most famous churches in the Jolfa vicinity of Isfahan. The Holy Savior Cathedral , also known the Church of the Saintly Sisters, is a cathedral located in the New Julfa district of Isfahan, Iran. It is commonly referred to as the Vank , which means “monastery” or “convent” in the Armenian language.

The cathedral was established in 1606, dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of Armenian deportees that were resettled by Shah Abbas I during the Ottoman War of 1603-1618.The construction is believed to have begun in 1606 by the first arrivals, and completed with major alterations to design between 1655 and 1664 under the supervision of Archbishop David.

The cathedral consists of a domed sanctuary, much like an Iranian mosque, but with the significant addition of a semi-octagonal apse and raised chancel usually seen in western churches. The cathedral’s exteriors are in relatively modern brickwork and are exceptionally plain compared to its elaborately decorated interior.

 

The interior is covered with fine frescos and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work. The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of the creation of the world and man’s expulsion from Eden. Pendentives throughout the church are painted with a distinctly Armenian motif of a cherub’s head surrounded by folded wings. The ceiling above the entrance is painted with delicate floral motifs in the style of Persian miniature.

The museum of Armenian culture is the building next to the cathedral. The museum displays 700 handwritten books, the first book printed in Iran, a variety of objects related to Armenian community in Isfahan such as Safavid costumes, tapestries, European paintings brought back by Armenian merchants , embroidery, and other ethnological displays related to Armenian culture and religion. There are several carved stones showing scenes from the Bible outside the museum.

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