Introduction to Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran
The complex of the Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran represents a valuable and global place in Armenian architecture and their traditional decoration which are the evidence of important cultural exchanges with other cultures of the region, especially Byzantine, Orthodox, and Persian. Due to being located on the southeastern border of the origin of Armenian culture, these churches have been the main center of dissemination of this culture to Azerbaijan and Iran. These monuments are the last surviving evidence of this culture in the region which has satisfying unity and originality. Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran is the place of the holy pilgrimage of St. Thaddeus, a living testimony to the religious traditions of Armenians throughout the centuries.
Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran
The Church of Thaddeus, along with the Dzordzor Chapel and St. Stepanos, was added to the World Heritage List as Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran on July 7, 2008.
Qara Church (St. Thaddeus Apostle Monastery) is one of the world’s oldest churches and one of the most significant Armenian churches. According to some scholars, it is the world’s first Christian structure. and St. Thaddeus Apostle Monastery is 20 kilometers northeast of Chaldoran city, next to a village of the same name. Qara means ‘black’ in Azeri, and the name comes from the fact that a portion of the church is black. The church’s main structure is made of black stones, which have been replaced with white stones following the reconstruction of some of the stones.
The Dzordzor Chapel
The bishop of Zakaria called the newly founded church Mary. The church was built with a long-term vision and became a solid center for the spread of the Catholic religion and the training, education, and training of Catholic clergy among Armenians. In meantime, he elected Hwan Dzordzorsi as president of this religious and scientific church and this choice was strongly supported by the fact that Hwan Dzordzorsi was a prominent teacher and philosopher in addition to studying the religious sciences, and of compilation Bible compilations and a book introducing Daniel.
In addition to completion, he translated many books and had a hand in drawing and calligraphy. Such a person could have a significant influence on the advancement of the Catholic faith by using the subtleties of education, and at the end of the Hwans Dzordzorsi effort, it was quickly accomplished, and in 1317 the Pope once again raised several Dominican religious funds sent to strengthen this small church.
St. Stephanus Church
The second oldest and the most valuable Persian church, located 16 km from Jolfa in a lush canyon alongside the Aras river in East-Azerbaijan Province after Qareh Church. This church is reminiscent of the Christian martyr after the ascension of Jesus, one of his apostles named Stephanus or Stefanos, who was martyred in the early Christian period.
This peaceful church, more than 10 centuries old, passing through its turbulent history, is a center for art lovers, the art that illuminates the part of this modern age. The historical and artistic value of this church made St. Stepanus one of the three prominent Armenian churches of Persia listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008.
Where to eat near The Church of St. Mary
You can go to the Darbar Restaurant in Jolfa or the Jolfa Tourism Complex next to the Railway Station or even go to the Haj Ali Khorram restaurant on Imam Khomeini Street. You can also go to local restaurants in small towns.
The best food in the area is kebab and broth.
Where to stay near Armenian Monastic Ensembles
Mako Tourism Hotel
Mako Tourist Guest House is a 2*, A-class resort with amenities which due to its location in the city center, this hotel has access to central markets within 5 minutes.
Babataher Mako Resort
Babataher Mako Ecological Resort is located near Yarma, Mako Hill. This Ecological Resort is built in the style of old caravanserais to remind the rural and simple life of old Persia and the extraordinary traditions of the Mako region, which also has a large number of historical monuments in its heart.
Mako Governor’s Guest House
Another hotel you can use to stay in is the Mako Governor’s Office. This place can also be a good option for relieving fatigue due to its average facilities.
When to visit The Armenian Monastic Ensembles
The best time to visit St. Mary Church is between May and October, depending on the weather conditions in West Azerbaijan.
How to Visit the Armenian Monastic Ensembles
One of the most attractive tourist attractions of Mako is the churches of this city, one of which is the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. An old and historic church, with a spectacular view, captures one of the most unique frames in your mind. The appearance of the church is very simple and valuable, and its only decoration is the role of the cross on the stones and false columns that are around the windows and skylights.
The largest dam in West Azerbaijan, 12 km south of Mako, is the Baron Dam Lake. The lake behind this dam has a unique view and is the best option for fishing. The good thing is, the dam is located next to Dzordzor Church.
*Don’t forget to bring your hat and a bottle of water and wear your sunglasses and sunscreen.
Early morning is the best time to visit a church in the heart of the mountains and in the green nature that sells the beautiful tranquility of nature to our souls. Qarah Church or Tataeus Church is a church decorated with black and white stones that has the most unique and beautiful visual arts. The structure of the whole church building, which includes the towers and the surrounding walls, suggests that the church was built in a beautiful castle.
Even though other Armenian churches are square in shape, it is interesting to note that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is an exception to this rule and is a rectangular church. A rectangular church, the roof of which is decorated with black and white marble, and in the inner courtyard on the walls we see the place where the candles are lit.
St. Stephen’s Church
The route that takes us from Jolfa to the church in East Azerbaijan passes by the Aras River and is very spectacular. The church is located in a lush and clear valley full of large trees and attracts us with its glorious beauty and carvings. The reliefs, engravings, and paintings on the walls and ceilings remind us more of the value of St. Stephen’s Church in Jolfa.
The death of Stephanus, the crucifixion, and the ascension of Christ are among the images that adorn the exterior walls of the building. A stone wall is reminiscent of Sassanid architecture because it is surrounded by strong castles around the church.
In the middle of the west wall is a gate made of wood and iron, which gives it a special splendor.
The bell tower is also attached to the south wall of the church and is built on a two-story porch, and the presence of an octagonal pyramid dome on eight special red columns has multiplied its charm.
To enter the courtyard, you have to go through the amazing door that is here from the Qajar period and enter the courtyard. The courtyard has an altar that is about 1 meter higher. After seeing the main courtyard, you should go to Daniel’s Stove, which was the place of Christian baptism. There is a spring near the church that you can’t stay here for long hours. There is also a bathroom and a buffet.
How to get the Armenian Monastic Ensembles
Air travel to Tabriz is one of the best and fastest ways to reach this city. Tabriz Martyr Madani International Airport (TBZ) hosts domestic and foreign flights and is one of the well-equipped international airports in the country. Tabriz Airport also has transportation access to various locations.
Train travel is a poetic journey where you can watch the view of Aras Baran Jungles through the train window and reach your destination slowly and smoothly.