Iranian Armenian Churches

John

Mathew

The primeval Armenian churches in Iran were built starting from the 4th-5th centuries AD. They were based on a simple, or hypostyle basilica plan. In general, the basilica church included a long hall which stretched from east to west. The entrance to the church was on the western side, and an altar with flanking ambries was located on the eastern side. Gradually, these simple churches were extended on four sides by adding arcades and terraces along their outer walls. The hypostyle church differed from its plain predecessors only by three to seven pairs of pillars, dividing the salon into three areas, the one in the middle being the widest. Often, this triple division was also obvious

John

Mathew

B3~Phillipe

Luckas

Luckas

B3~Phillipe

Thomas

Gregory the Illuminator

Gregory the Illuminator

Bartholomew

Jack Alpia

Madatia

Thomas

Jack Alpia

Thaddeus

Thaddeus

Before the construction of an Armenian church, its site has to be consecrated. The blessing is performed by installing sacred stones according to a specially devised plan.

from the outside, when the middle sec tion was emphasized by an elevated roof. From the 6th century onward,

Exposed brick dome

Inner skin decorated dome

Exposed brick dome

Inner skin decorated dome

Exposed Brick Domes

Balcony Choir

Nave

Altar

The churches of Esfahan stand out from the majority of the Armenian churches and are very close to Islamic religious buildings from the architectural viewpoint.

Balcony Choir

Nave

Altar

The churches of Esfahan stand out from the majority of the Armenian churches and are very close to Islamic religious buildings from the architectural viewpoint.

Armenian architects altered some elements of the basic basilica plan and crowned the churches with a distinctive grooved dome. At first, this dome rested on four very sturdy piers in the middle of the church, but starting from the 7th century, the piers have been removed and the dome was based on the supporting walls. This enhanced the spaciousness of the hall and removed obstacles from the visitors' views. Since the 7th century, the churches have been based on a cross plan. However, sometimes they also had a square ground plan and were topped with round cupolas.

among the Armenians in Esfahan and Tabriz. For a time, they were quite successful, but afterwards the success of their work declined. An effort among the Nestorians in the 18th century was more fruitful. The earliest Protestant missionaries were Moravians who came to evangelize the Zoroastr-ians in 1747. They were unable to remain, owing to civil disturbance in the country. Henry Martyn was a pioneer of the 19th century and left the

The carpet depicts Mary and Persian ver-

baby Christ, accompanied by sion of the

Archangel Gabriel (from the -vr Carpet Museum in Tehran).

Testament as his legacy. This was followed by Dr. Glen's version of the Old Testament.

Today Iran's indigenous Christians include Armenians, Assyrians, and a ""

small number of Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant Iranians. The Armenians are predominantly urban and are concentrated in Tehran and Esfahan. The and the Assyrians are recognized as official religious minorities under the 1979 Constitution. They are entitled to elect their own representatives to the Majles (Parliament) and are permitted to follow their own religious Crucifixion is depicted in the laWS in mat- miniature album of Moraqqa-ye , . r Golshan (today in the Golestan terS 01 mar- palace-museum in Tehran).

riage, divorce, and inheritance. However, all Christians are required to observe the laws relating to attire, prohibition of alcohol, and segregation by sex in the streets and other public gatherings. Iranian Christians have churches and chapels throughout the country, including several large cathedrals. At present, four monasteries exist in Iran: two in Azerbaijan and two in Esfahan.

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