Iran’s Attitude Towards the Pearls of Armenian Architecture

Iran’s Attitude Towards the Pearls of Armenian Architecture

It is well known that one of the indicators of the degree of civilization of a society in a given country is its attitude to the cultural values of other ethnic groups. An example from this point of view can be considered our southern neighbors who are not only anxiously taking care of the monuments of Armenian architecture but also, in some cases, are restoring them.

Back in 2008, 3 medieval monuments of Armenian architecture in the north of Iran were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites under the title “Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran” at the request of the Iranian Ministry of Culture. The monasteries included are the complexes of St. Stepanos and St. Thaddeus, as well as the Church of the Holy Mother of God in the monastic complex of Dzordzor.

Built in the 9th century, the Church of St. Stepanos is one of the religious creations of Armenian architecture. It is located 15 km southwest of the Iranian city of Julfa in a deep canyon in the valley of the Araks River on the site of the now-deserted Armenian settlement of Darashamb.

In the 13th-14th centuries, the monastic complex which included three churches was a famous cultural center. Under it, a school operated as well. In the manuscript “Narek” from 1331, there is a mention of this temple with the characterization “big and glorified.”

The church has a beautiful exterior décor. In its bas-reliefs are depicted numerous traditional biblical scenes. The monastic complex was renovated with funds allocated by the Iranian government.

The temple of St. Thaddeus is considered one of the most ancient Christian shrines. According to a legend, it was here that Apostle Thaddeus, one of the main preachers of Christianity in Armenia and Persia, was buried. The temple is located in a mountainous area 20 km from the city of Maku. Fortifications were built around the temple with towers in the corners.

The main cathedral of the complex was erected in 1329 on the site of a former religious structure destroyed by an earthquake. Some fragments of the monument are decorated with sculpture ornament. Every year on July 1, a solemn liturgy is held here, which is attended by numerous Armenian pilgrims. A few years ago, the temple was restored at the expense of the Armenian diaspora and the government of Iran.

The Armenian Church of the Holy Virgin of the Dzordzor monastic complex is located north of Lake Urmia on the border of Turkey and Iran. The temple built in the 13th century flourished in the 14th century when a higher school operated here and literary translation was carried out.

The Church of the Holy Mother of God of the monastery complex of Dzordzor is currently the only building in the complex untouched by time and natural disasters. In 1988, a dam was erected in the territory of the church in order to prevent the building from sinking under water. The church building itself was relocated 600 meters in 1988 in agreement with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Thanks to precise measurements, the Iranian specialists were able to restore the church at the new spot with excellent accuracy.

Ruben Shukhyan

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