The Armenian Christian sector of Esfahan is still a thriving community albeit much depleted from the mid-1960’s when the population reached approximately 100,000. Not many people realise that a Christian area exists in the predominantly Muslim city and it is in the section known as Julfa south of the Zayande Rud river that you will find the 13 remaining churches out of the original 30 or so. Cathedrals and Mosques do go together despite what many people believe.
Only yesterday I was talking about my Iranian adventures when someone asked if Westerners are still allowed into Iran and he was surprised when I explained that although I didn’t see many Westerners where I went, I have no problems whatsoever in entering the country and in fact, am welcomed wherever I go. Such is the lack of understanding and power of adverse media coverage that many people have completely the wrong idea of the situation in Iran which I find very sad.
The All Saviour’s (Vank) Cathedral is spectacular and an amazing visual feast of religious murals, gold decor and superb architecture together with a selection of ancient artefacts and historical information in the Cathedral museum.
In the midst of all the family celebrations and visiting relatives it was lovely to find a haven of peace and serenity in the almost deserted church and its grounds and I could have spent hours sitting on a bench looking at the frescos and murals trying to take in the exquisite detail.
The museum is fascinating but sadly no photos are allowed and postcards and guidebooks of the cathedral and exhibits are almost non-existent. I did however manage to take some pictures of the external features and I found a photo DVD (Studio Par) with some beautiful images of the popular scenes.