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Monday, 25-Sep-2006 13:59 Email | Share | Bookmark
vank cathedral - part 1

Memorial of the victims of the1915 Armenian genocide
When the first Armenians arrived in Jolfa one of their first tasks was to erect a monastery for their priests to replace the one they had lost in Armenia. Within the monastery they established a small church which they called the "All Healing" (Amna Perkich) in 1606. The present cathedral was built on the site of this church some 50 years later. Work started in 1655 C.E. and the cathedral was completed in 1664 C.E.
The paintings in the church were paid for by the Armenian merchant, Avedic Stepanusian, and were executed by three monks, Havans, Stepanus and Minas.
The area surrounding the cathedral also includes a bell-tower, erected in 1702, a printing press, founded by Bishop Khachatoor, whose statue you can see in the picture above, a library established in 1884, and a museum which was opened in 1905 and which contains many historical objects and manuscripts, including the original grant of land.
Vank Cathedral was built from 1606 to 1664, as the main church for the Armenian refugees fleeing to Isfahan from the Turkish massacres. Shah Abbas offered the Jolfa district of Isfahan as a refuge for them. Inside there are some rather garish frescoes, depicting some of the gorier biblical scenes, including the persecution of the Israelites and the massacre of the Innocents. Obviously, the events in Turkey were still very much on the minds of the artists. Photography is not permitted inside the cathedral. There is also a museum with photographs of the more recent Armenian massacres of 1894-96 and 1915-16. This is something like a holocaust museum: quite moving and disturbing
The Armenian Cathedral in Esfahan is dedicated as All Saviour but is generally known as the Vank Cathedral. Austere dun-coloured brick on the outside gives way inside to a riotous mix of Persian tiles, Byzantine gold and European-style fresco. Every surface is decorated and the effect is dazzling. Building began in 1606 and the cathedral was completed in the mid 1600's, since which time it has served as the focal point of the Armenian church in Iran. Architecturally it reflects the 17th century Safavid style with soaring arches and a very Islamic-style dome.

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