The Saint Stepanos Monastery, also known in Armenian as Maghardavank, is an Armenian monastery located about 15 km northwest of the city of Julfa in the province of East Azerbaijan, northwestern Iran. There is an old church that has not changed its appearance for some time and is still alive and spectacular, a church called the Church of Saint Stepanos or Holy Sepulcher.
Saint Stepanos Monastery is located in a deep canyon along the Aras, on the Iranian side of the border between Iran and Nakhjavan.
The Armenian monasteries of Iran illustrate the outstanding universal value of Armenian architectural and decorative traditions. They represent very important cultural interchanges with the other regional cultures, in particular Byzantine, Orthodox, and Persian.
They had been built between the 7th and 14th centuries, but have been rebuilt many times due to nature and human-inflicted disasters. The chapel even was moved from its original location in the 1980s due to the construction of a dam.
The place is suitable for adventure tourists, religious tourists, nature Tourists, cultural tourists, historical tourists, and photography and hiking lovers. May to early September is the best time to travel to Jolfa.
How to go there: The path from Jolfa to the church, along the beautiful river of Aras, is very tumultuous. The distance from the church to Aras is 3 km and Julfa is 17 km. If you travel by car, you reach Tabriz from Qazvin and Zanjan highways. It is 626 kilometers from Tehran to Tabriz and less than 2 hours from Tabriz to Julfa. On the road to Jolfa, you see the church guidebook.
By buying a flight ticket or a bus ticket, you can also reach Tabriz and then get to Jolfa. The Tehran-Julfa trains are the next option. An hour’s drive from Julfa to the church, you get to the entrance of the mansion from the parking lot, about 300 meters of walking. The route is uphill and going to it may not be comfortable for people with heart disease.