Introduction to Saint Stepanos Church
Saint Stepanos Church is the second oldest and the most valuable Persian church. It is located 16 km from Jolfa in a lush canyon alongside the Aras river in East-Azerbaijan Province after Qareh Church. Saint Stepanus 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, with 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.
Architecture of St. Stepanos Church
Saint Stepanos church Church consists of three main sections; The first part is the chapel, which is located under the dome, the altar of the church and the place of Armenian worship that frescoes and wall paintings of saints and angels adorn the walls of this section. Another part of St. Stephanus, called the “Daniel’s Stove,” was designed for travelers to stay, which was used as a meeting room for religious ceremonies such as baptism.
The magnificent and vibrant chapel of St. Stephen’s Church was built in the time of Abbas Mirza, the son of second king of Qajar, and the carvings of the chapel walls and its vault decorations are among the finest and most beautiful examples of sculpture art in all of Persia. There is a story that tells the bell of this church, which was brought to Italy for repair, was never returned.
St. Stepanus Church, As a painting
The exterior and walls of Saint Stepanos church are also decorated with beautiful reliefs such as the portrait of Mary, the birth of Christ, the stoning of St. Stephen, and the crucifixion of Christ and his companions. The gravestones and at the entrance of the church have valuable Armenian inscriptions.
Saint Stepanos Church, As a World Heritage
The historical and artistic value of Saint Stepanos church made the Monastery one of the three prominent Armenian churches of Iran listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an Armenian Monastic Ensemble of Persia in 2008.
Location of the St. Stephanus Church
Saint Stepanos Monastery Church has located 2km from the city of Jolfa and also at the entrance of the city, there are special signs for tourist areas, after that, you must enter the road to the village of “Dare Sham” which is located at 16 km west of Jolfa. Don’t worry about losing your way at all, the whole route is marked with signs.