During the course of history Iran has witnessed numerous Armenian immigrate to its land, whether it was voluntary or forced. The long struggle of Armenia with the intolerant Ottoman dynasty, forced many to take refuge in the tolerant neighboring country, where if not overjoyed, they at least were not in fear of their lives. Little by little, the immigrants became part of the country and their influence in politics, economics and art of Iran is a witness to their prominent position. Naturally, Tabriz as the closest flourishing city to Armenia, became the residence of many Armenian, the number of churches made in the heart of the city easily proves that. There are at least 7 churches in Tabriz belonging to different denomination of Christianity.
But the most well-known churches of Tabriz, or better said, West Azerbaijan province, is an ensemble of three churches that has been registered by UNESCO in their World Heritage list, famous for showcasing Armenian architectural and decorative traditions and being a place of pilgrimage of the apostle St. Thaddaeus, a key figure in Armenian religious traditions.
Saint Thaddaeus monastery – or as some call it, Black Church, is a church dedicated to Saint Thaddaeus, also known as Saint Jude, the priest that evangelized the region of Armenia and Persia. He was martyred in Armenia and revered as apostle of the Armenian church. The structure of the church is the same as Etchmiazdin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The earliest section of church shows black and white stone were used in its construction, explaining the name Black Church.
St. Stephanos Monastery – the first church was built around 7th century and completed in 10th century; it was severely damaged by the earthquake and restored by Safavids mainly as a result of their rivalry with the Ottoman empire. The church is dedicated to St. Stephanos, the first martyr of Christianity. Its architecture is a mixture of Urartu, Parthian, and Byzantine architecture that was reflected in other churches like the Black Church. It was abandoned in 16th century when the whole area was evacuated, but it was restored by Qajars and their Armenian refuge
Chapel of Dzordzor – it was built sometime between 1315 to 1324 as a complex of church and school of religious education by the order of archbishop of St. Thaddaeus monastery. Following the tradition of Armenian mosque, the church has a cuneiform plan and made of stones of different size. in 1987, the Ministry of Energy builds a dam near the church and to save it from drowning under water, they move the church to upper lands, where it is located today.