St. Stepanos Monastery beautiful Armenian church

TEHRAN, Jun. 02 (MNA) – St. Stepanos Monastery is the second most important Armenian Church in Iran after St. Thaddeus Monastery. It is located about 15 km northwest of Jolfa, East Azarbaijan Province, northwestern Iran.

Jolfa is a city in East Azerbaijan Province, Iran. It is located to the north of Tabriz, separated by the Aras River from its northern neighbor and namesake, the town of Julfa in the Republic of Azerbaijan. It is famous for its historic churches.  One of these churches is St. Stepanos Monastery which is the second most important Armenian Church in Iran after St. Thaddeus Monastery.

St. Stepanos Monastery is on the Iranian side of the border between Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Iran. It was built in the ninth century AD, but it was seriously damaged by earthquake. So, it was refurbished in Safavid period. Also, some measures were taken in Qajar era by Abbas Mirza to maintain and repair it.

The church is surrounded by greenery trees and valleys in the heart of mountains between the border of Jolfa and the Republic of Azerbaijan and situated in a deep canyon along the Aras River.

Stephen St. Stepanos was one of the first martyrs of the Christian religion, as well as missionaries of Christianity and the apostles of Christ. St. Stepanos was stoned to death on December 26, 36th, in Quds by Jews.

The monastery is enclosed in a lush greenery area and the building is shaped like a cylinder with pink and red stones, covered with a cone-shaped dome and above the dome, portrays of bulls, sheep and fishes are visible. Inside the monastery, angels with four wings are carved. All parts of the church have been made of fences and stones. It has seven towers and five stone cylinders like strong fortresses of the Sassanid era. It has two entrances; the west entrance is for singing the chorus, and the south entrance is near the dome bell building. Its exterior walls are covered with beautiful stones.

Architecture, decoration of the building and materials used in its construction are a combination of the Parthian, Roman and Urartu style, similar to the style of the tenth to twelfth century. The church has three main buildings: the main chapel, the bell tower and Daniel oven.

One of the most beautiful places in this church is its 16-sided dome which is very artistically designed. There is a bell tower in the south of the church; it is a pyramidal and octagonal dome. There are several graves in the courtyard of the tower where prominent Armenians were buried there.

Some bones, pieces of fabric, wax and etc. were found during reparation of the church in 2005.The prelate and archbishop of the Armenian Diocese of Tehran said that these bones probably belonged to John the Baptist.

This monastery is respected by all Christians and almost all other religions. One day in the year, thousands of Armenians gather together in this place to perform their rituals.

St. Stepanos Monastery was registered in Iran's National Heritage on March 6, 1963 under the registration number of 429. It was also registered in the UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007 for its historical and religious background, as well as its unique architecture.

The best season to visit St. Stepanos Monastery is in spring and summer, especially May.

ZZ

News Code 146057

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