Christianity in Iran :
According to scholars we don’t know when Christianity arrived in Iran and when the first church was built, but there are famous churches in Iran .in this article we introduce The most famous churches in Iran.Jesus was born at th time of Farhad 5th , during Partian Dynasty but the presence of Christianity goes back to the early period of 7th Century. Christians of Iran played a significant role in the history of Christian mission. After Christianity came to Iran gradually churches were built in different cities.
The architecture and design of these churches are based on the climate and conditions of the area. These churches are symbol of Christian Religion , but some of them are the great example of Persian architecture of ancient Iran.
Today there are about 600 churches in different cities of Iran. 90 churches are known as cultural heritage of Iran. UNESCO has registered three of them as world cultural heritage.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 1
Qara Kelisa (church) in Maku or Thaddeus Church was constructed by the apostle of Jesus Saint Theddeus who traveled to north west of Iran a city called Artaz to preach the teaching of Christ in 40 or 43 AD. Armenian believe this is the oldest church in the world. In the past the name of the church was attributed to the people who worked for it, that is why they call it Thaddeus Church as well. The church is composed of two parts: black structure which takes the Qara name from it. (Qara means black) and white structure.This church is registered as world cultural heritage by UNESCO.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 2
Saint Stepanos Church or Jolfa Monastery or is built in the heart of mountains and it is second important church of Armenians in Iran. It was built in 9th Century. Earlier was damaged due to heavy earthquake and was restored and renovated during Safavid period. Saint Stepanos was one of the first apostles and martyred of Christianity. This church is reverent among all the Christians and other religions. In fact it belongs to Gerigorians who are inhabited in Armenia.
Saint Stepanos Church is located in the border of Jolfa and Azerbayejan country next to Aras River called Maghard.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 3
Vank Church is another Armenian Church in Iran. It was built during Shah Abbas 2nd in Isfahan city.Vank means monastery in Armenian language. Vank Church is known as Holy Savior also. This name is taken from Surp Amna Perkeij Vank in Nakhjavan. Vank Church is 8731 square meters. The building is 3853 square meters and rest is courtyard of the church. There is a clock on second floor which is 300 kg and above entrance you can see belfry. Both clock and belfry are donated by a gentleman whose name is Mardirus Hurdananian. Vank Church has some unique features in comparison to other churches; The dome in this chuch is like dome of Islamic mosques while the other churches have cone shaped dome. The reason is architecture style of Safavid period. In this church raw clay is used for construction not stone. Gilding work is quite different in Vank Church. The walls and inner angels are depicted with beautiful painting of holy Bible motif , the day of resurrection , heaven, hell and Jesus picture showing his birth to ascension. These paintings are done by Armenian painting masters : Stepanus, Hovans Merkuz and master Minas and expenses were done by Mr. Avdik Stepanos.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 4
Kantoor Church Or Small Red Church was built during World War 2nd in Qazvin when this city was occupied by Russia. Kantoor Church is one of the smallest church in Iran and it is known as Belfry Church too. The bricks of this church are red color and tiling of the dome is turquoise color. The west part of the church is depicted by marvelous fresco and the windows are horseshoe shape with brick work. There are huge columns outside of the church with belfry tower which make this church more attractive. Courtyard of the Kantoor Church has Square plan with a huge dome in center and a smaller dome above Mihrab. You can see Russian Cross on the entrance gate which represent their nationality.
The most famous churchesin Iran Number 5
Holy Surep Sarks Church is in Tehran capital of Iran and it’s the biggest church in this city. Its length is 36/5 m and width 17/8 m.
This church has the title of cathedral also. Sarkis was one of the Armenian apostle who was martyred in early 4th Century.
Surep Sarkis Church has a traditional architecture inspired by the other Armenian churches. Modern style of Pahlavi Period didn’t effect the architecture of Sarkis Church. Interior of Church has a cross plan with huge windows. The windows are decorated with paintings of religious stories like ascension of Jesus and Jesus Christ Baptism and etc..
Outside walls are made of white stone which looks beautiful at night. There are praying hall , musicians stage and baptism pool and two private rooms in Sarkis Church.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 6
Suret Garapet Church is Symbol of coexistence of religions. It was built during Pahlavi period and known as the biggest conference hall of Armenian in Abadan City. At the time of imposed war between Iran and Iraq people left this city and this hall was used as a center of army training and was damaged but in 1997 the church was renovated and it was opened to Armenian again. It is similar to other churches the only difference is that there is a mosque in its neighborhood which shows the unity among people and followers of two divine religions in two different places , worship one god with democracy. This is brotherhood and equality. There are two dome and a simple belfry on top of the church.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 7
Zorzor Church is a church in Azerbayejan (zorzor means shifted to another place). This church is known as Holy Mery church as well and located in north west 12 km far from Qara church, in West Azerbayejan.
The simple but very valuable architecture of Zorzor Church has made UNESCO register it in world cultural heritage.
After zorzor Tesi passed away in 1338 AD this place became a religious center and was not as important as before. Zorzor used this Church as monastery to teach religious lessons to Christians. There were 12 famous holy men educated by Zorzor in Catholic Churches like Bishop Hovans. Bishop Hovans was introduced as archbishop in 1330 AD. The interesting point about this church is that the building is not in its original place. Originally it was located in Qaresu River but due to safety matter it was shifted to another place next to the lake by cultural heritage office and renovated.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 8
Holy Mary Church was built in Anzali during Qajar period. In fact it was donated by one of the Armenian whose name was Avak Malek Allahverdian in 1874 AD. Holy Mary Church has a rectangular plan of east and west side. It has three entrances in north, west and south. It is possible to enter the church from these three sides except the east side because Mihrab is located in this part. Two rooms are located next to Mihrab.
The ceiling of the church is made in traditional style of Anzali City. The dome and belfry of church are supported by 6 columns and are visible from west entrance. Outside walls are cement walls and inside are plaster walls.
The most famous churches in Iran Number 9
Gregory church or Stephan Church is located in the eastern side of Hegmatane in Hamedan City, old area of Armenian. Stephan Church was built by the help of some Armenian from Isfahan and some Russian businessmen who were settled in Hamedan in 1660 AD. The interior of church is plain brick. Earlier there were two belfry in this church but now they are maintained in museum. Inside of church is plain white plaster which is decorated with picture of Jesus Christ, Holy Mary and Vartan Mamikunian , the Great Commander of Armenian Army. There are four roundish columns joined together inside the church hall.
Also read more about Most beautiful mosques in Iran