Grand and glorious in the heart of Iran
Vank Cathedral is located in Isfahan province. Many tourists visit the complex every year. The Vank Cathedral was one of the first churches to be established in Isfahan by Armenian immigrants settled by Shah Abbas. Among the churches built in the Jolfa district, Vank cathedral is the most famous and exemplary specimen of Armenian architectural achievements. The cathedral represents different stages of political, economic and social status of this monitory community in Iran since the mid-seventeenth century.
Construction began in 1606, and completed between 1655 and 1664. The cathedral consists of a domed sanctuary, much like a Persian mosque, but with the significant addition of a semi octagonal end and raised chancel usually seen in western churches. The cathedral’s exterior are in relatively modern brickwork and are exceptionally plain compared to its elaborately ornamented interior.
The interior of the church is elaborately decorated with wall paintings, tile-work and so on. The inside is covered with fine paintings and gilded carvings and includes a rich tile-work. The delicately blue and gold painted central dome depicts the Biblical story of creation of the world and men’s expulsion from Eden. Throughout the church are painted with a distinctly Armenian motif of a cherub’s head with folded wings. The ceiling above the entrance is painted with delicate floral motifs in the style of Persian miniature. Two sections 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. The courtyard contains a large free-standing belfry towering over the graves. In the corner of the courtyard is a raised area with a memorial to the 1915 Armenian genocide in Turkey.
Review by: Masoud Farhad