Art And Culture

Saint Stepanos Monastery Museum Opens in NW Iran

Saint Stepanos Monastery Museum Opens in NW IranSaint Stepanos Monastery Museum Opens in NW Iran

Saint Stepanos Monastery, situated 15 km northwest of Jolfa, East Azarbaijan Province, has opened a museum for the public, the provincial office of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization announced on Saturday.

St. Stepanos Monastery is an Armenian monastery located in a deep canyon along Aras River on the Iranian side of the border between Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and Iran. It was built in the 9th century and rebuilt in the Safavid era after several earthquakes damaged it.

The museum has two wings: the main wing, which hosts artifacts excavated from the monastery’s grounds, ancient tablets, epigraphs and photographs of historical correspondence sent and received by the monastery; and the secondary wing, which is dedicated to other Armenian churches in Iran using pictures and stone models.

The outside stonewalls of the building are decoratively carved and embellished with Muqarnas—a form of architectural ornamented vaulting or the geometric subdivision of a squinch, or cupola, or corbel, into a large number of miniature squinches, producing a sort of cellular structure.

Additionally, the inner space is covered in paintings on plaster walls, adding to the beauty of the building.

Mehdi Bazaz Dastforoush, head of museum affairs at the provincial office of ICHHTO, believes converting a section of the monastery into a museum “can help introduce East Azarbaijan’s history and familiarize people with the region’s culture and develop tourism.”

The project to launch a museum was a collaborative effort between the World Heritage Affairs Office at the provincial ICHHTO and Aras Free Trade and Industrial Zone, IRNA reported.

St. Stepanos Monastery was included in the National Heritage List in 1962, and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the Armenian Monastic Ensemble in Iran in 2008.


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