02 Jul 20194.5 out of 5
Isfahan is the first name that comes to mind when we think of traveling to Iran and as its number one tourist attraction, we can mention the Vank church. the combination of ancient Islamic and Armenia art of structure made the most flawless and one of a kind cathedral in Iran and with the prepossessing artistic treasure of the inner part consisting of gilding oil paintings full of colors, it is incomparable to the other buildings alike. So if you want to have a memorial trip to Iran, you shouldn’t miss this sight.
Vank cathedral also known as the Church of the Saintly Sisters was built between 1606 and 1655 in a land we now call New Jolfa, a famous district in Isfahan, one of the best resort towns in Iran. Placed in the Armenian quarter of the town it has an interesting story within, in the time of the ottoman war, Iran’s ruler Abbas the great conquered the Yerevan and due to his scorched-earth policy many Armenians were forced to resettle in his new capital and by their own money and wealth they started building the church we now know as Vank, similar to the Saint Stepanos Cathedral in Azerbaijan Julfa. As time passed, this area changed its name to “new Jolfa”. The cathedral is also known as Saint Amenaperkich and Saint Sur. "Vank" In the Armenian language means a “cathedral” and, in the ancient time, it was a place where pastors were educated and prepared for service.
Vank was built under the supervision of Archbishop David. The area of the Vank church is 8731 square meters, of which 3857 square meters is the building and the rest consists of greenery and the Vank's garden.
On the two sides at the entrance to Vank, there are two rooms for catering.
At the top of the entrance, the bell tower is located on three floors, on the second floor there is a large clock weighing three hundred kilograms. This bell tower and watch were given to the church by "Mardioras Hondaranaian" in 1931.
Unlike most structures built by Armenians by stone, Vank was built with adobe, and its dome is like Iranian mosques in Safavid age, but the interior part is all Italian architecture made by craftsmen who learned crafts buy European masters.
There is a cemetery in the middle of the churches yard and under it lies the bodies of some influential great people who changed the course of the history of Iran like Archbishop David, the builder of the church or Archbishop Khachatur Gesaratsi, the founder of the first Iranian printing-house.
If you are not a fan of history you may get a little bit disappointed at the sight of the simple adobe-made exterior of the cathedral, but when you walk in the main building, its interior is so elegantly made with outmost art and beauty that it would leave anyone with any taste in mere awe and astonishment.
Vank is unique in terms of gilding and illumination among Armenian churches. In the decoration and painting of the church walls, "Khaje Oedik" had a great contribution.
All the walls, vault, dome, and finally all the corners of the church are decorated with oil paintings. Most of the churches wall paintings have themes from the holy bible, and images of Jesus Christ from birth to the ascension are on them. These paintings include the doomsday, Judgment Day, Paradise and Hell and etcetera. The cost of all decorations, paintings and church illuminations has been provided by Khaje, the "Avtodian Stepanos". The painters were all Armenian professors, including the Khalifa "Hvans Mertuz" and "Pastor Pastanus" and "Master Minas".
At the site of the altar, there are four pictures, in which torture of the saints is to be seen. The altar paintings in Vank are about Christ, which begins in the chamber of special objects with the image of the glorification of the angel to Saint Mary and continues all around the church. Intermediate images include the birth of Christ, the prostration of three kings to Jesus, the test of Christ by the devil, the crucifixion and burial of Jesus, the ascension of Jesus, and etcetera.
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Vanks museum was built in the northern part of the church by “tatavus hunanian” son of “haroton hunanian” writer of the famous book “the history of Jolfa, Isfahan”.it consists of nearly 1300 historical items, in which some are matchless all around the world. You can see over 700 manuscripts mostly consisting of bibles and Quran and amongst them is the world’s smallest book printed in 14 pages with the weight of 0.7 grams, but the jewelry of the church is a prayer written in a single hair that can only be seen by a microscope.
The printing room of the vank church is the first in the whole middle earth.in 1620 the archbishop of the time traveled to Europe and recognized the publishing industry, so he came back and started building his own printing house in the middle of Jolfa.the printing machines and some of the books printed by them are still in Vank for the exhibition.
As mentioned in the introduction, Vank Cathedral and its museum are definitely on the top list of visiting places in Isfahan. my opinion is to have a professional camera to capture all this beauty but if you don't there is nothing to worry about, inside the cathedral, postcards containing the pictures of the Vank are sold and they are perfect Iran souvenirs for friends and family, as a memory of your visit in Iran. Apart from the cathedral, if you feel a bit tired or hungry you can enjoy the Armenian cafés serving Armenia’s local foods and drinks. The neighborhood of Jolfa is also a marvelous place to go around and explore.
3 of Gapatour tours travel to Isfahan: historical and cultural tour, ladies package and religious. If you want to visit Vank and other amazing sights of Iran feel free to contact us. For more information go to our tour page.