Jolfa: The Armenian Quarter


The Armenian quarter of Esfahan dates from the time of Shah Abbas I, who transported a colony of Christians from the town of Jolfa (now on Iran’s northern border) en masse, and named the village ‘New Jolfa’. Abbas sought their skills as merchants, entrepreneurs and artists and he ensured that their religious freedom was respected – albeit at a distance from the city’s Islamic centre. At one time over 42,000 Armenian Christians lived here.

Today Kelisa-ye Vank (Vank Cathedral) forms the centre of this fashionable area. There are also a number of Armenian churches here and an old cemetery, serving a Christian community of approximately 6000. Many visitors visit in the afternoon and stay on in Jolfa to enjoy dinner in the relatively liberal village atmosphere.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Esfahan attractions

1. Kelisa-ye Vank

0.06 MILES

Built between 1648 and 1655 with the encouragement of the Safavid rulers, Kelisa-ye Vank in the Armenian neighbourhood of Jolfa is the historic focal…

2. Jolfa Square

0.07 MILES

At the centre of the Armenian Quarter, a short walk from Vank Cathedral, this delightful square is a good place to sit and watch the world go by. Other…

3. Isfahan Music Museum

0.11 MILES

This beautiful new museum in the Armenian Quarter in Jolfa houses a fine collection of traditional Persian instruments. A labour of love for the private…

4. Si-o-Seh Pol


The 298m-long Si-o-Seh Bridge was built by Allahverdi Khan, a favourite general of Shah Abbas I, between 1599 and 1602. It served as both bridge and dam,…

5. Zayandeh Riverside

0.99 MILES

There are few better ways to spend an afternoon than strolling along the Zayandeh River, crossing back and forth on the river's 11 bridges – or even…

6. Pol-e Chubi

1.24 MILES

Nearly 150m long, and with 21 arches, Chubi Bridge was built by Shah Abbas II in 1665, primarily to help irrigate palace gardens in the area. The bridge…

7. Madraseh-ye Chahar Bagh

1.33 MILES

Built between 1704 and 1714 as part of an expansive complex that included a caravanserai (now the Abbasi Hotel) and the Bazar-e Honar, this madraseh is…

8. Hasht Behesht Palace

1.47 MILES

Once the most luxuriously decorated palace in Esfahan, the interior of the small Hasht Behesht Palace has been extensively damaged over the years, but it…