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    Vank Cathedral Isfahan, Iran

    / 17th century
    Isfahan - Vank Cathedral  Isfahan, Iran


    • Price: 5 $
    • Working Hours: Saturday to Thursday: 8:30 am. to 6:30 pm. Friday: 8:30 am. to 12.30 pm. Vank Cathederal is closed on Christians special days and Islamic mourning days.
    • Plan Your Visit: about 1 hour

    The most memorable church in Julfa, the Vank (in Armenian, the general word monastery) Church is also referred to as the Cathedral of All Saviors that was built during the reign of Safavid King, Shah Abbas II (r. 1642–1666) by Armenians who were forcibly displaced by the Shah Abbas I (r. 1588-1629). Amenaperkich or Vank Cathedral, also known as Saintly Sisters, consists of a beautiful belfry, a church, a famous museum and a library and along with its garden and the green space is located in an 8731 square-meter area.The varying fortunes and independence of this suburb across the Zayande River and its eclectic mix of European missionaries, mercenaries and travelers can be traced almost chronologically in the cathedral's combination of building styles and contrasts in its external and internal architectural treatment.



    The cathedral was established in 1606, dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of Armenian deportees that were resettled by Shah Abbas I during the Ottoman War of 1603-1618.

    The construction of the cathedral began during the reign of Shah Abbas II. However, only several years after its completion, in 1655 it was rebuilt, and this time the process lasted for nine years.

    The entrance to the area is marked by a three-floor rectangular high bell tower with a 300 kg majestic clock on the second floor that was donated to the church in 1930.

    The cathedral consists of a domed sanctuary, much like an Iranian mosque, but with the significant addition of a semi-octagonal apse and raised chancel usually seen in western churches. The cathedral's exteriors are in relatively modern brickwork and are exceptionally plain compared to its elaborately decorated interior.



    The Armenian community provided the building expenses, while the interior paintings were accomplished with the financial assistance of Khajeh Avadich Stepanusian. The dados of the church's inner walls are covered with rich ceramics dating from 1710-1716. Inside and outside the church, there are also many inscriptions that invite the readers to pray for the constructor of the church and his descendants. The interior is covered with fine frescos and gilded carvings and includes a wainscot of rich tile work. The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of the creation of the world and man's expulsion from EdenPendentives throughout the church are painted with a distinctly Armenian motif of a cherub's head surrounded by folded wings. The ceiling above the entrance is painted with delicate floral motifs in the style of Persian miniature. Two sections, or bands, of murals run around the interior walls: the top section depicts events from the life of Jesus, while the bottom section depicts tortures inflicted upon Armenian martyrs by the Ottoman Empire. The sumptuous interior is richly decorated with restored wall paintings full of life and colour, including gruesome martyrdoms and pantomime demons. The walls are painted of European inspirations showing scenes of martyrdom, notably of Saint Gregory.



    The architecture and design of holy savior church is a remarkable fusion of Armenian and Iranian architecture; the consecutive arches, geometrical patterns and the exterior view of the round dome as samples of Islamic architecture beside the conical interior view of dome and Christian iconography and frescoes all indicate this glorious cultural combination. Apart from the paintings, which are imitations of Italian styles, the architecture and all the decorations are totally Iranian.



    The courtyard of the complex has four sculptures. There is also a graveyard occupying a part of the church's courtyard.

    Across the courtyard and facing the cathedral is a building housing a library and museum which were founded in 1930s. Outside of this building are several carved stones showing scenes from the Bible.



    The two-story building of the museum houses antiquities, relating mainly to the history and religion of the Armenians in Julfa. The museum's collection contains more than 700 richly illuminated manuscripts, among them ancient Gospels (the earliest dating from the 9th century) and Korans, as well as the first book that was printed in Iran. There is a separate part in the museum about the history of printing in Iran, the first printing machine and published book. Other objects include wooden crosses, tabernacles, monstrances and other sacred receptacles, and paintings bought in Europe by Armenian merchants, antique books, coins, textiles, metal and wooden things, earthen and Chinese ceramics, costumes of Safavid times, samples of leatherwork, embroideries, and tapestries, European and Armenian paintings as well as the smallest copies of the Gospel in the world weighting only 7 grams. Just behind the entrance to the hall, the visitor can read under a microscope a passage from the Proverbs that is written on a hair. To the right of the entrance is an interesting collection of royal orders issued by the Safavid kings.



    Here are also exhibited a printing press dated 1841 (the third oldest in Iran) and several religious books that are among the first to be printed in Julfa. In the left wing of the hall is exhibited the world's smallest book - The Lord's Prayer - printed on 14 pages in Germany and weighing 0.7 g, as well as the 15th-century Monolagium weighing about 16.5 kg. The paintings include Greek, Indian, Italian, Flemish, Russian, and Armenian art, ranging from the 16th to the 20th century. Among them is Rembrandt's sketch of Abraham. To the left from the entrance is an imposing stand dedicated to the Armenian genocide of 1915.



    The museum's second floor is especially notable for the remains of the demolished Aineh-Khaneh Palace. Here are also preserved documents dealing with the Armenian participation in the Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century as well as the personal belongings of their leader, Yeprem Khan. Some Persian tile work, engraved stones, coins and moneyboxes, and Egyptian linen used in the coffin of a mummy complete the exhibition.

    The museum's library contains some 700 manuscripts and 1,000 books in Armenian and many invaluable and unique resources for research in Armenian and medieval European languages and arts. The library also holds a copy of the first book printed by Armenians in Isfahan and a copy of the history of Julfa written in 1881.



    The cathedral has greatly influenced the architecture and decorative treatment of many subsequent and smaller Orthodox churches in the entire Persian-Mesopotamian region.

    Notes & Recommendations:

    Best time to visit: spring to the end of autumn

    Across the courtyard and facing the cathedral is a building housing a library and museum which were founded in 1930s. Outside of this building are several carved stones showing scenes from the Bible.


    • Web Site: www.vank.ir
    • Tell : +98 313 6243471-2

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    The word Persia gives the image of a magical and mysterious land of far away and long ago, of ancient monuments and beautiful works of art – carpets, tiles, fine ceramics and miniatures. It also reminds us of legendary and tragic love stories and epic poems about great wars. And Persia is indeed a world ancient and contemporary, a bridge between heaven and earth. We want to show you around. Discover things to do on your next trip to Iran and plan a trip of your lifetime. Yes, it is that easy! This website gives you the tools to plan your trip to Iran: detailed information on destinations; inspiring ideas on what to see and do in each city; where to stay; where to eat; travel guides and let’s say everything you need so you can dream up a trip to Iran.


    This workshop is designed according to the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to give young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of our common cultural and natural heritage. It seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow’s decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation and to respond to the continuing threats facing our World Heritage. The idea of involving young people in World Heritage preservation and promotion came as a response to Article 27 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention). Furthermore, Patrimonito means 'small heritage' in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme.
    Date: 29th December
    Number of trainees: 7
    Duration: 3 hours

    The workshop of "Patrimonito" was held on 29th of December. Participants arrived around 10:30 and they were welcomed by hot chocolate and Persian cup cakes. After a little introduction by trainers and trainees, the process started by making two groups and letting them choose a name for their group, each group was accompanied by a mentor then each group was given some images of world heritage sites in Iran and some descriptions, each group was asked to match images and descriptions, the mentor was guiding them throughout the activity. All trainees were participating actively and trying to remember their experiences about their travels to these places. When they were done with the activity, the mentors started giving the answers and a brief explanation about each site; mentors were using trainees’ ideas and experiences to complete their tasks.

    Shortly after that, the second part started which was a presentation done by two of mentors. The aim of this presentation was to define the value of these world heritage sites and duties of each person as a "Patrimonito", and what happens if there is no "Patrimonito" and nobody cares about our tangible or intangible heritage. In this part trainees started questioning and understanding the whole concept of being a "Patrimonito", they also added their own suggestions on how to protect our heritage and by the end of this part, they were completely aware about their role as a "Patrimonito".
    Now it was a best time to have a short break, during the break trainees were introduced to some of intangible heritages as they were served by traditional food and snacks and even they way of serving was according to traditions and everyone had this opportunity to discuss about intangible heritage while enjoying some traditional food and snacks.
    When the break was done, everyone was asked to choose a heritage either tangible or intangible and they had to introduce their chosen heritage to a tourist by making a postcard using what they have learnt. They were given all of necessary tools such as color papers, color pencils, glue, scissors, images of heritage and a mentor was with them in order to help them completing the task.

    When they were done, they handed out their postcards and with the mentors they sat together and spent a few minutes asking and answering about what they have learnt. Then they were told to say their vows for protecting their heritage and caring about it, the mentor said the vow and the trainees repeated after her and they officially became a "Patrimonito".

    The last but the best part was when they were given the certificates, and they were told that since they are aware of the value of the heritage and they know how to protect it, they are chosen as "Patrimonito" and they should continue their mission by introducing the value of heritage to others. They were granted certificates and labels and the workshop of "Patrimonito" was finished by taking some memorial photos.