Vank Cathedral: A Gorgeous Fusion Of Islamic & Armenian Architecture
The Armenian Holy Savior Cathedral (Surb Amenaprkich Vank), also known the Church of the Saintly Sisters, is a cathedral located in the New Julfa district of Isfahan, Iran. It is commonly referred to as the Vank, which means “monastery” or “convent” in the Armenian.
In 1606, Persian Shah Abbas I forced 150,000 Armenians to completely abandon their flourishing city of Jugha under penalty of death. He moved them into the heart of Persia (now Iran), hoping to harness their entrepreneurial and artisanal skills for his empire. In the same year, an edict of the Shah established New Julfa, on what was then the outskirts of Isfahan.
The construction of Vank Cathedral began immediately after. The building’s structure combines traditional Armenian architectural styles with the region’s Islamic architecture. The resulting church has rich frescoes and tile work, as do some of the other Armenian churches in New Julfa.
The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of the creation of the world and man’s expulsion from Eden. The top section depicts events from the life of Jesus, while the bottom section depicts tortures inflicted upon Armenian martyrs by the Ottoman Empire.
Vank Cathedral also has a library and museum, which includes an Armenian book that was the first book ever printed in Iran, as well as edicts by Abbas I and other shahs forbidding interference with or persecution of the Armenians.
Visiting Vank Cathedral is on the itinerary of our following tours: