The Armenian Monastic Ensembles in the north-west of Iran, includes St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor.

Iran (IMNA) - St. Stepanos is an Armenian monastery situated about 15 km northwest of the city of Julfa, Tabriz in a deep canyon, on the Iranian side of the border between Iran and Armenia.

When the Armenian were forcefully fled the Ottoman Empire and took refuge in Iran in the 9th century, they built this church and dedicated it to Saint Stepanos.

Saint Stepanos monastery is the second most important church of Iran after Saint Thaddaeus Church. Saint Stepanos is recognized and venerated as a saint and the first martyr of Christianity. He was condemned and stoned to the death for committing sacrilege against the Jewish Temple circa the year 36; hence, some churches named after him in the different parts of the world.

St. Stepanos church was originally built in the ninth century in a remote area, but it was damaged through wars and earthquakes; therefore, it underwent reconstruction during the Safavid era. Due to frequent refurbishment processes, the church itself is more impressive from outside than from inside. The elaborate brickwork on the exterior facade of its central dome is an outstanding example of Armenian decorative architecture.

Saint Stepanos monastery, which is the testament to the long history of Christianity in this zone, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered as a pilgrimage location.

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