What do You Know about Vank Cathedral of Isfahan?

Wall decorations of Vank Cathedral in Isfahan
Wall and ceiling decorations of Vank Cathedral, Isfahan
Wall decorations of Vank Cathedral in Isfahan
Wall and ceiling decorations of Vank Cathedral, Isfahan

Undoubtedly, Isfahan is one of the largest and most popular cities in Iran. It is full of works of art and historical monuments. Vank Cathedral is one of its historical and religious monuments.

Many mosques and churches were built in the city of Isfahan over the centuries and have remained until today. Among the historical churches of this city, we can mention the churches of the Jolfa neighborhood. Three historic churches have been built in this area. The most outstanding building among them is the church of Vank or the Holy Sisters.

Vank Cathedral was built in 1655 during the reign of Shah Abbas II, the Safavid king. The construction of this church was completed in 1664 AD during the reign of Shah Abbas II and Jathliqi “Filipus” and the leadership of Caliph “David” and with the help of the generous people of that time. This church is a place of worship for Armenians.

Another name of this building is “Amna Parkej”. This name is taken from the church “Sorp Amna Parkij Vank” Jogha (Jolfa, in Armenian) in Nakhchivan.

Different Parts of Vank Cathedral in Isfahan

Vank Cathedral Museum
Museum of the old Vank Cathedral

In fact, this historical monument holds a collection in different parts. Here we introduce these sections:

  1. Church chapel: You can see the most artistic decorations and murals inside this building.
  2. “Holy Khachador Gesaratsi” museum: this building displays works of different artists on two floors, from holy books and religious leaders’ clothes to the works of different artists, old printing presses, tombstones, old tiles, etc. will be
  3. Narses Shnorhali Library: This library, which is only open to members, contains exquisite manuscripts and old and valuable books.
  4. Clock Tower: As soon as you enter the courtyard of the Vank Cathedral complex, you will notice this tower and its big bell on your right.
  5. Isfahan Jolfa Armenian Museum of Anthropology: This museum, which is newer than other parts of the complex and was launched in recent years, exposes the daily life items and Armenian handicrafts to the viewers.
  6. Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument: This monument, which can be seen on the left side of visitors upon entering the courtyard, is a reminder of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey today, which took place in the 20th century.
Jolfa Armenian Anthropology Museum
New Jolfa Armenian Anthropology Museum

Decorations and Works in Vank Cathedral of Isfahan

Two types of paintings can be seen on the walls of the church. The first type includes the paintings that are printed on canvas and fabric and are located on the altar and other places. Another type is the painting on stone pieces and walls.

There are lots of paintings on the walls of this church. These paintings show religious concepts and topics and the life story of the prophets. The painted pictures of the Vank Cathedral show the life story of Jesus Christ one after the other.

The painting of the heavenly and the infernal people of Vank Cathedral
Paintings of heaven and hell

One of the pictures installed on the wall of the church is related to the Day of Resurrection. In this picture, the people of hell and heaven on the day of resurrection are shown. All these images are painted in relief and have given a beautiful effect to the interior walls of the church.

The most famous piece in the museum of this cathedral is a strand of hair belonging to an 18-year-old girl. On this strand of hair, a sentence from the Torah is written in Armenian. Warham Hakopian wrote this text in 1974 with a diamond pen. People queue up to look at it through a microscope.

The History of the Construction of Vank Cathedral

During the Safavid period, Shah Abbas I was defeated in the war with the Ottomans and ordered to retreat. While retreating, the Iranian army had to pass through Armenia. By order of the Shah, a significant part of the route was destroyed to prevent the advance of the Ottomans.

As a result, the Armenian people were in danger of mass killing. To prevent this massacre, the Shah settled many Armenians in Iran. Then he arrived in the city of Isfahan along with the soldiers and the people of Armenia. He presented some lands from the Jolfa region to Armenians to settle there.

After the Armenians settled in Jolfa, Isfahan, they started building places of worship for themselves. This is how the church of Vank was built. They wrote the date of the beginning and completion of the construction of the church on an inscription with an azure tile with a gold-colored pen and placed it on the door of the church.

There were many churches in the Jolfa neighborhood of Isfahan. Among them, 13 churches are left from the 17th century. Vank Cathedral (monastery) is one of them.

In addition to having a special religious place, especially for the Armenians of this city, Vank Cathedral is also a place for social events. Also known as office space. The first printing house equipped with a printing machine in Iran and the Middle East was opened in the courtyard of this church.

Characteristics of the Vank Church

This church is located in the middle of a garden called Vank Garden. Around this garden, many green spaces have been created. The area of the building, including the current garden and its green space, reaches 8731 square meters. The area of the church building is 3857 square meters.

Amna Perkej church bell
Amna Perkej church bell

A person named “Mardiros Hordanian” donated a clock to the church in 1931. This clock, which weighs 300 kg, is installed on the top of the church entrance. Also, there is a bell tower at a corner of the church courtyard.

The clock donated to the church has 4 circular dials with a diameter of 104 cm. These plates are placed on four sides of the cathedral entrance. So, from any direction you watch, the clock is visible.

In addition, on both sides of the entrance of the church, two reception rooms were built, which today are the ticket office and the handicraft store. An inscription made with marble measuring 40 x 53 cm is located on the right side of the entrance. On this inscription is written the date when the clock was donated to the church, along with the donor’s name.

In the past, historical buildings were mostly built with stone, but raw clay was used in the construction of Vank Cathedral. The outer walls of this building are made of bricks. Also, its interior is covered with plaster.

Features of the Dome in Vank Cathedral of Isfahan

The dome of the Vank Cathedral
A view of the dome of the Vank Cathedral

Like all churches, this church also has a dome. But its difference from other churches is that it has two big and small domes. The big dome is above the altar of the church and the small dome is above the public meeting hall. These domes are placed on square columns with tall arches.

A special architectural style is used in the construction of the dome of the church. Most domes of traditional churches are conical in shape. But the big dome of Vank Cathedral is built in the form of mosque domes. This shows that its architects have used the architectural style of Iranian mosques.

From inside and on the ceiling under the dome of this church, beautiful paintings can be seen that attract the attention of every viewer. These paintings show the story of Adam and Eve and their approach to the forbidden fruit. Also, another painting refers to the story of Abel and Cain.

Do not Miss Visiting This Attraction

If you want to travel to the central cities of Iran and are interested in visiting historical and religious monuments, we suggest you visit the Vank Cathedral of Isfahan. You can travel to this beautiful city by buying Iran tours from the top travel agencies or personally.

Destination Iran suggests you read “Tourist attractions of Isfahan” before traveling so that you have an informed trip while you are there. This way, you see more sites and learn more deeply.

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