Surb Stepanos Monastery – Julfa

Surb Stepanos Monastery - JulfaThe 9th-century Surb Stepanos Monastery (Armenian: Սուրբ Ստեփանոս վանք) was located in the ancient Armenian settlement of Julfa. Today, it resides 15 km southwest of the present-day Iranian city of Jolfa in the deep canyon of the Aras River.

In 2008, the Surb Stepanos Monastery was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. During one of the recent archaeological excavations, 5 unique khachkars (cross-stones) were unearthed at the site. According to experts, these khachkars were carved out in the monastery’s walls during the Middle Ages. Three of the five khachkars feature years 1592, 1597, and 1598 inscribed on them.

During restoration works in 1940, locals at their own initiative treated the khachkars with plaster. However, the Atropatene diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which includes the Armenian churches in Iran, ordered the removal of the plaster for the research to continue.

by Aleksandr Bakulin

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