St. Mary’s (Maryam Moghadas) Armenian Church of Shiraz
If you’re a bit of an artist and you enjoy visiting historical monuments, you’ll find visiting churches attractive. There are many beautiful churches with special architectures all over Iran. St. Mary’s Armenian Church of Shiraz is one of these buildings; But there is an interesting distinction.
St. Mary’s Church Location
To visit St. Mary’s Armenian Church of Shiraz you should travel to the south of Iran. This church is in Shiraz. Continue the path to Sang Siah District. Once you reach Moshir Mosque in Shiraz, you are almost there. The 400-year-old church is located in Darband-e Moshir Alley, facing the mosque.
St. Mary’s Church History
The history of Shiraz St. Mary’s Church reaches back to 1661. At that time, Shah Abbas II of the Safavid dynasty ruled Iran. During his reign, Jolfa was a prosperous city. Armenians living in the city were silk traders and they traded with Europeans. Thus, Jolfa was a commercial center in the West. Shah Abbas decided to take over the government of Jolfa. After the invasion and capture of Jolfa, he forced several Armenians to move to Shiraz. With the Armenian migration, trade flourished in central and southern cities of Iran and continued the Silk Road to these parts of the country. The Ottoman government was a rival to Iran’s trade. After this, the entire silk trade was lost to the Persians.
The Armenians built the 400-year-old church at this same time in Shiraz. About 100 years earlier, instead of St. Mary’s Church, there was a smaller church for people who lived close to Armenians. For many years, Portuguese traders used to trade near the church. In past years, many Armenians immigrated to the United States and Armenia; hence, there are currently only 32 Armenians living in Shiraz. The church has been registered as a historical monument in the List of national works of Iran. In addition to the 400-year-old church in Shiraz, there are other churches called St. Mary in Tehran, Tabriz and Mashhad.
The façade and Architecture of St. Mary’s Church
It is interesting to know that St. Mary’s Church is different from other churches in Iran. It has built in Basilica style. The Basilica is a special type of architecture, also known as “Grand Hall”, and has special features. You may have heard of Basilica churches. Remember, every basilica-style church is not a Basilica. “Basilica” is a title bestowed by the Pope himself to some churches.
The façade of the church does not resemble any other church. On the entrance is a symbol of the cross and the church can be recognized only by this sign. When you enter the churchyard, you will see beautiful geraniums on either sides of the yard. Colorful cacti have also given the yard a special sight.
St. Mary’s Church of Shiraz has a square front with two stories. Entering the church, you see a combination of art and architecture. The main hall of St. Mary’s Church has a small space. It is interesting to know that the hall is a dome from within; but it is invisible from outside. In the hall, there are four-seater pews for the worshippers. The pulpit is in the form of an altar built above a platform at the end of the hall. In different parts, there are paintings depicting Mary and Jesus on the walls. The church has a peaceful atmosphere. It doesn’t matter what your religion is. All pray to one god.
When you visited St. Mary’s Church of Shiraz, stay in the city for a few days. It is a pity you miss visiting this gorgeous city. Traditional residences with their pleasant atmosphere and beautiful architectures will welcome you well.