In our third tour in Isfahan, we will go to Jolfa neighborhood (Armenians neighborhood) and its surrounding attractions. In this tour, in addition to Vank Church and its museum, we will also visit Jolfa Square and Bethlehem Church. Also we visit the Isfahan Music Museum. Snack and meals are also available at Safavi House and Arca Restaurant.
Jolfa Square of Isfahan, with several historical churches around it
Jolfa Square in Nazar Sharghi Street of Isfahan has remained from the Safavid period. The entire square complex, consisting of Vank Church, Bethlehem and Mary, is at the disposal of Vank Cathedral and the Council of the Armenian Calipha of Isfahan.
Jolfa neighborhood of Isfahan is the place where Armenians live in Isfahan and Jolfa Square is the center of this neighborhood, hangout of Armenian youth and the place where some Armenian celebrations are held.
There is a large sundial in the middle of Jolfa square.
Isfahan Jolfa Square and neighborhood, with its numerous cafes and galleries, has a different atmosphere from the rest of Isfahan.
Vank Church with the most valuable murals
Vank Church ( Cathedral ) is the name of a church in the Julfa neighborhood of Isfahan. This church is one of the historical churches of the Armenians of Isfahan and was built during the reign of Shah Abbas II.
The Armenians of Isfahan migrated to Isfahan from Yerevan during the reign of Shah Abbas I and following the war between Iran and the Ottoman rule in Yerevan, and settled in the Julfa neighborhood of Isfahan. Armenians then began building churches there.
Vank Church is the largest and most famous church in Iran. This church is also known as “Amnaperkich” in the world and is one of the 13 remaining churches in Julfa, Isfahan since the 17th century. Vank means monastery in Armenian.
Over time, the Vank Church, in addition to maintaining its religious status among the people of Isfahan, especially the Armenians living in the Jolfa neighborhood, also became an administrative place and a center of social events. During the following years, the first printing press in Iran and the Middle East was established in the courtyard of this church.
At the head of the west entrance of Wank Church is an inscription made of azure tiles with gold inscription engraved with the following text:
The construction of Vank Amnaperkich Church began in 1655 during the reign of King Abbas II and the orthodox “Philip” and the leadership of Caliph “David” with the help of the people of Julfa and ended in 1664. The reward for the worship performed in this church will be given to those who are alive or in the past.
The area of Vank Church is 8731 square meters, of which 3857 square meters is the building and the rest of the green space and the Vank Garden.
At the top of the entrance, the bell tower is built on three floors, on the second floor of which is a large clock weighing three hundred kilograms. On the four sides of the tower, four circular clock plates are installed, the diameter of each plate is 104 cm.
Normally, Armenian historical churches are made of stone and their domes are conical, but Vank Church, like Safavid Persian mosques, is made of raw clay and its dome is circular similar to the dome of Bethlehem Church ( Another big Church in Julfa neighborhood ).
All the walls, the arches, the collar of the dome, the inside of the dome and all the corners of the church are painted and decorated with oil paint. Most church murals have biblical themes and depict images from the birth to the ascension of Jesus Christ. On a part of the walls of the church, the pictures of the Day of Judgment and heaven and hell can be seen. The painters of these pictures were all Armenian masters.
This church is unique among Armenian churches in terms of gilding. “Khaje Odik” had a great role in decorating and painting the walls of the church.
Also the building of Vank Church Musume is in the yard of Vank Church.
Vanak Church Address: Isfahan, Jolfa Neighborhood, Nazar Sharghi St., Vanak Church Alley
Visiting hours: Daily from 8:30 to 13:30 and 16 to 18:30
Vank Church Museum with exquisite Armenian manuscripts
Inside the compound of Vanak Church in Isfahan, a large building is dedicated to a beautiful and spectacular museum, Vank Church Museum.
In the pleasant atmosphere of this two-story museum, you will see antique objects and Armenian manuscripts with beautiful colors and glazes which will certainly attract you. You will not get tired of visiting this museum.
In 1930, the independent Vank Church Museum was established. There were many exquisite paintings and antiques in the warehouse of Vank Church and other Armenian churches and houses. Those objects and works of art were collected and displayed in the museum hall.
In 1971, considering the geographical and political location of Julfa; The new museum will be built north of the altar of Vank Church.
Among the works of the museum are a collection including: seven hundred and ten volumes of “Manuscripts”, “Plastering and painting artworks”, “Metal works”, “Textiles of traditional hand-woven and embroidery”, “Porcelain and pottery”, “Wooden works”, “Commands”, “Printing Industry Booth “,” Coins “and …
A variety of ancient Bibles and manuscripts in the Armenian language, paintings sometimes brought to Iran from Europe, decrees of Persian kings throughout history regarding the Armenians, many unique Safavid mirror artworks, sacred vessels, special chines vessels and also Armenian clothes are some of the spectacular attractions of this museum that you must visit.
One of the most famous works kept in the Vank Church Museum is a hair belonging to an eighteen-year-old girl on which Vahram Hakopian wrote a sentence from the Torah in Armenian with a diamond pen in 1974. This work was donated and transferred to the museum in 1975. Visitors can see this sentence on the hair with a microscope installed for this purpose.
Bethlehem Church in Julfa Square of Isfahan
Holy Bethlehem Church or Bedkhem Church, belongs to the Armenians of Isfahan and has been built in the Safavid period. This work was built in 1628 by Khajeh Petros Valijanian, a famous merchant of the Safavid era.
Bethlehem Church is located in the Julfa neighborhood of Isfahan, near the churches of Hakop and the Blessed Virgin Mary and Vank Church.
Bethlehem Church has the largest dome among the churches of Isfahan and exquisite historical paintings has been drawn on the walls of the church hall.
The exterior of the church is 25 meters high and although without any decorations, but it has a magnificent view.
Isfahan Music Museum, attractive
The Isfahan Music Museum was established in 2015 by two of Isfahan’s music professors, with their personal investment and cooperation of some Isfahani artists. This museum is located near to Jolfa neighborhood in Isfahan.
From the very beginning of the Isfahan Music museum, this museum attracted the attention of tourists and music lovers, and immediately the positive feedback of these visits was reflected on the Tripadvisor website, and since then, foreign tourists interested in art have visited the museum in their tourism program in Isfahan.
Many musical instruments from old to new have been collected in this museum. In addition, masters and music artists working with this collection occasionally perform live music for visitors, that usually takes place in the traditional style and as a solo or Two plays. The happy face and attitude of Master Mehrdad Jeihoonii, one of the founders of this museum, also has an effective role in attracting the spectators of this museum.
Safavi house, A 400-year-old house on Khaghani Street in Isfahan
On Khaghani Street in Isfahan, a house left over from the Safavid period, has now become a pleasant space for a cafe as well as an exhibition and shop of some old handicrafts. Here is called Safavi House.
The long entrance hall of this house is also dedicated to a photo exhibition of calligraphy and painting.
A beautiful pool in the middle of the yard makes the home environment relaxing and pleasant. There is a bed on the roof of this house to sit and relax.
This house is also called the House of Creation.
Arca restaurant near Vank Church in an old Armenian house
There is a large old Armenian-owned house on Julfa Alley in Isfahan, near Vank Church, which is now used as a restaurant. It is Historical Arca restaurant.
The old house of Arca restaurant has a very large and pleasant courtyard, which is dedicated to the arrangement of tables, chairs and awnings of the restaurant.
The rooms around the courtyard is also used for the kitchen, dining hall and also restaurant office.
This old and historical house was once used as Dr. Seyhoun’s clinic, once as the school of Armenian religious sciences, and once as the Armenian club.