Vank Cathedral - 1606/1664
Hacop Church - 1607
St. George Church - 1611
Maryam Church - 1613
St. Catherine Monastery - 1623
Bethlehem (Bidekhehm) - 1628
Last Updated: 12 April 2001
Shah Abbas I granted land on the south bank of the Zayandeh to Armenians in a decree dated 1028 A.H (1618 C.E.). This followed his war against the Ottoman Turks which left a large number of Armenian refugees, many of whom moved south to Iran to settle in Isfahan. The area in which they settled was called 'New Jolfa' after the name of their old city in Armenia. Later they were joined by Armenians from Tabriz and Irvan. It is best to start your visit here, in Jolfa Square, from where all the principal sites are easily accessible by foot.
Shah Abbas may have had several motives in settling the displaced Armenians in Jolfa through the grant of lands. He clearly valued their skills in trade and wine-making and he ensured that they would not return to Armenia by demolishing the original Jolfa and dismantling their original cathedral there. He then instructed that some of the stones should be brought to New Jolfa in Isfahan to form the foundation of a new cathedral, however this plan never came to fruition, and the few stones that were brought back, are now to be found in an annexe to the Church of St. George.
Armenians trace their conversion to Christianity back to St. Gregory (Gregor Losavrich in Armenian), who is said to have founded the Achmiyadzin (Och) church in Armenia in the city of the same name in 303 C.E.
At the height of its prosperity, Jolfa boasted some 24 Christian churches. This number was greatly reduced during the Afghani interregnum, and there are now 13 churches which survive from the 17th Century C.E., of which the six, listed on the right, are covered in more detail on this site.