Magnificent Esfahan Vanak Cathedral

28 May 2019

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Introduction of Vank Cathedral

If you are interested about a very brilliant place on earth, visit this magnificently beautiful destination! Of course! you will never ever see again in your lifetime. The Holy Savior Cathedral or the Church of Saintly Sisters is widely known as Vank Cathedral. It is an Armenian church, located in New Julfa district in the center of Isfahan. The name “Vank” derives from Armenian word “monastery”. Due to its obrilliant interior design, Vank Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iran, specially in Isfahan.

The Vank is also one of the most famous cathedrals in the country, and the largest in Isfahan, in central Iran. This place is also the cultural and historical tourist attraction in beautiful Iran. In terms of historical paintings and decorations, it is known as the most beautiful church in Isfahan.

The Armenian Quarter of lsfahan, Jolfa, has been home to one of the highly respected minorities in Iran. Jolfa is among the most famous neighborhoods in the city. Its liveliness and numerous cafes has made it the perfect spot for many locals and tourists to spend time in. Iranian Armenians have been residing in Jolfa for more than many  years ago. They have built several churches in the Jolfa neighborhood. Out of twenty-four churches built in the city, thirteen are still standing today. For visitors, Vank Cathedral with its magnificent artwork and an informative museum is definitely the most notable of all.

Description of Vank Cathedral

This Safavid era church might be the most attractive in Iran; it has multiple sections for you to visit. The wall paintings are among the most attractive features which show multiple biblical stories. The museums, which holds many interesting artifacts is also important; artifacts like many gilded manuscripts of old and new testaments, multiple church equipment’s like canes, robes and belts and special containers, first printing machine in Iran and also a hair with religious texts engraved on it which is only visible using a microscope. Armenians were always more advanced among Iranian tribes and were responsible for many cultural advancements in Iran, they were the first to introduce pop music, cinema and printing press; this phenomenon is what this museum will show you.

History of Vank Cathedral

Like most of Isfahan attractions, Vank Cathedral was built during the rule of Shah Abbas, who moved the capital of Persian Empire from Qazvin to Isfahan in 1598. The cathedral was established in 1606 for hundreds of thousands of Armenian deportees who came to Iran during the Ottoman war. The construction was finally completed in 1655 – 1664 when the major design changes were amended by Archbishop David.

Architecture of Vank Cathedral

The cathedral has a domed sanctuary, looking a lot like Iranian mosques, but semi-octagonal apse and raised chancel makes it western-looking. The variety of building styles, used for the cathedral and its surroundings, reflects the history of the district, filled with European travelers, missionaries, and mercenaries.   The exterior of the cathedral is built of modest yellow brick and gives the mistaken impression of what should be inside the church. Interior of Vank Cathedral is a true masterpiece of art, representing fresco, carvings, and tiles. The paintings combine Bible stories on the dome, Persian floral ornaments on the ceilings and Armenian national motifs on the walls. Visitors can also see scenes of the life of Armenian martyrs being tortured by Ottomans. Frescos are framed with golden and blue tiles, creating a warm and rich atmosphere inside the church.

Even though all the churches in Isfahan were mainly built by Armenian architectures, they don’t share any similarities on the outside with the churches in Armenia or even the ones located in the North Western parts of Iran. There could be a number of reasons for that difference in design and architecture; one is the fact that these religious buildings were being established in the center of a Muslim empire. In order to prevent any sort of trouble between the new Christian minority and Muslims, Armenians were ordered to build their churches to be more similar to mosques and Iranian architecture. The second major reason for this shift in design was the change in the region. Therefore, architects had to use different, The interior design of the churches, however, have a completely different story. Churches built in that era are famous for the countless paintings on their walls and ceilings. There has been a lot of work put into drawing these paintings which depict biblical stories. In fact, this style influenced the churches built after the 17th century in Armenia and Nakhchivan. Almost none of the churches built before that time in Armenia had any sort of wall paintings.

Another contrast in the churches of Isfahan would be the size of the windows which are usually bigger than the ones found in Armenia. The reason for these bigger windows is for the paintings to be more visible and to stand out during daylight. Moreover, initially none of the churches built in Isfahan had any bell towers. Instead of the church bell, a big wooden object known as “Kuchnak” is there to call for gatherings. In later years, bell towers were added to most of the churches in the city.

Vank means monastery in Armenian. The area of the Amena Church is 8731 square meters, which 3857 square meters of this area is covered by building and the rest is green area and the Vank Garden.

Vank Museum

ore common materials like mud and brick.

Entering the Vank Cathedral complex gives you the option of visiting its museum, too. The museum displays a comprehensive collection of biblical manuscripts. A section of the museum is dedicated to the Armenian Genocide with relevant documents and pictures explaining the tragedy. Another thing that could make your visit to the Vank Museum worthy is a line of text written in Armenian script on a string of hair. On the second floor of the museum, there are a number of paintings and portraits of Armenians of Jolfa.

As noted in the beginning of this article, Vank Cathedral and its museum are definitely on the top of the list of places to visit in Isfahan. Apart from the cathedral, the surrounding neighborhood of Jolfa is a perfect spot to walk around and explore. There is still an ongoing feeling of authenticity in the neighborhood which you can’t find in any other part of the city.

The Vank Cathedral is one of the historical church of Armenians of Isfahan, and it was built during the reign of Shah Abbas II.

Vank means monastery in Armenian. The area of the Amena Church is 8731 square meters, which 3857 square meters of this area is covered by building and the rest is green area and the Vank Garden.

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