In Iran, the presence of Christians and Armenians has a long history also the concept of church in Iran. Almost from the beginning of the religion of Christ, this religion found supporters in Iran, and despite the persecution of this group in different periods by the kings, they founded and built churches in Iran at different times which have been destroyed or changed their use over the years, and only a few of them remains, which we will introduce in the following:
Saint Thaddeus Monastery or Qara Kelisa – the most prestigious and beautiful church in Iran
Saint Thaddeus Monastery is one of the most prestigious and beautiful Armenian churches in Iran, located in the south of Mako city in the province of West Azerbaijan. Every year in summer, people from all over the world come to visit this church.
The name of the church (Qara Kelisa) is known because of the construction of the eastern part of the church with black stone, but some people consider Qara to mean large or large and say that it means the big church. The exact date of its construction is not known, but it probably dates back to the early Christian period and after the martyrdom of St. Thaddeus. The black Church is surrounded by four thick stone walls with five towers. On all four sides of the church, 47 rooms and halls have been built, which have been used as classrooms and rooms for religious students.
The mihrab and its two side rooms are located on a platform that is one meter high from the inner courtyard and its entrance has two rows of stairs on both sides. The dome of the Saint Thaddeus Monastery is 12-sided and conical, and all parts of the church, such as the walls, arches, columns, and roof dome, are carved out of stone and have no decoration. Other parts have spectacular carvings and inscriptions. This church is probably the oldest standing church in Iran.
Saint Stepanos Monastery – One of the most important churches in Iran
The name of this church is known from the Greek word “Stephanos” meaning crown and symbol of martyrdom in Christianity. St. Stephen is considered to be the direct messenger of the apostles of Christ.
Some attribute Saint Stepanos Monastery to early Christianity. A tourist named Tavernier considers Saint Stepanos Monastery to be related to the Safavid period; However, the architectural style of the building, its building materials, and its decorations indicate that it coincides with the Saint Thaddeus Monastery (Qara Kelisa). The building was probably built between the tenth and twelfth centuries AD and its architectural style is a combination of different styles of Urartu, Parthian, and Roman.
Saint Stepanos Monastery is surrounded by a high fence with seven Islamic-Sassanid towers. The building consists of three parts: the bell tower, the prayer hall, and Daniel’s stove. The bell tower on the porch is located on the floor connected to the south porch and has a pyramidal and octagonal dome on eight cylindrical columns of red stone with beautiful columns. On the dome, motifs such as angels with four wings, bulls, sun-like flowers can be seen in a rectangular and cross frame. The prayer house has an inlaid door related to the Qajar period. The interior of the church is cross-shaped and special carvings and inscriptions can be seen throughout the church.
Saint Sarkis Church – Holy Sarkis church in Iran, Khoy
The building of the Saint Sarkis Church is located in the northwest of Khoy and was built in the fourth century AD during the life of the Holy Sarkis and in the Safavid period has been completely rebuilt and the current building belongs to this period.
The plan of the church is a rectangle with six stone pillars with a cross plan and its mihrab is located in the eastern part. The mihrab is plastered and painted and there are two rooms on both sides. The building also has two entrances from the south and west. 25% of the building is made of stone and the rest is made of brick and its stones are dark limestone. Inscriptions of crosses and inscriptions in Armenian script remain on the columns and stones. There is no wall around the church at the moment, but there are short pebbles that marked the churchyard.
Chapel of Dzordzor – Beautiful small church in Iran
The Chapel of Dzordzor is located in West Azarbaijan province and Chaldoran town and its construction date back to about 1342-1315 AD. It is said that this church was built by Zakaria, the archbishop of Saint Thaddeus Monastery, and was used as a school or religious education center. The chapel of Dzordzor was built with carved stones. The view of the Chapel of Dzordzor is simple and there are false columns with truncated arches just around the windows and skylights. This building was in danger of being destroyed due to the construction of the dam, and for this reason, it was moved to another place under the supervision of cultural heritage experts.
Vank Cathedral – The most famous Armenian church in Isfahan
This religious complex is located in the neighborhood of the Grand Square of Julfa No, which took 9 years to build. It is a memorial to the church of the same name, the “Old Julfa Cathedral in Armenia”.
Vank Cathedral, which was built during the reign of Shah Abbas II, is considered one of the masterpieces of Isfahan. Most of the paintings in this cathedral were created by the famous Armenian painters of Julfa, Isfahan. One of the architectural features of Vank cathedral and other churches in Isfahan is their large and arched dome, which is modeled on mosques. other paintings on the wall are modeled on Islamic motifs. The oil paintings of the church, which show the story of the birth and ascension of Christ and other stories that are among the spectacular attractions of this church, there is also a museum next to Vank cathedral.
Cantor church or Russian church in Iran, Qazvin
Cantor church located in the city of Qazvin, which despite its small size is attractive and beautiful and has survived from the Qajar period. This church was built in the period after Nasser al-Din Shah’s travels to Europe and attention to road construction, by the Russian company that contracted the construction of the Anzali-Qazvin road, along with a series of other facilities in the north of “Panbeh Riseh” neighborhood. The word cantor also means “office” in Russian.
About 5 km from Jolfa on the Jolfa-Aras Dam road, it is located between the red sedimentary mountains and was built in the Safavid period around 1518 AD for the shepherds to reach, so that the shepherds do not have to return to the city for religious ceremonies. The church of the shepherd is made of stone and has a small dome and truncated arches. The church space is very small and only ten people can fit in it.
Saint Mary Church in Iran, Tehran
Saint Mary Church was built after the First World War and the migration of Armenians to Tehran. This church is built on a platform with gray basalt. The plan of the church is cross-shaped and according to the tradition of the Armenian churches, its altar is located on the east side. The building has a main dodecahedral dome with twelve skylights at the top of the chapel and a bell tower with six columns in the western part. The main dome of the building is influenced by Byzantine architecture and is common in Georgia and Russia. There are beautiful carvings throughout the building.