New Julfa

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New Julfa

Նոր Ջուղա
Courtyard of the Holy Savior Cathedral, and the Museum of Khachatur Kesaratsi
Courtyard of the Holy Savior Cathedral, and the Museum of Khachatur Kesaratsi
Coordinates: 32°38′10.79″N 51°39′20.55″E / 32.6363306°N 51.6557083°E / 32.6363306; 51.6557083Coordinates: 32°38′10.79″N 51°39′20.55″E / 32.6363306°N 51.6557083°E / 32.6363306; 51.6557083
ProvinceIsfahan Province
CountiesIsfahan County
Settledearly 17th century

New Julfa (Persian: نو جلفا‎ – Now Jolfā, جلفای نوJolfâ-ye Now; Armenian: Նոր ՋուղաNor Jugha) is the Armenian quarter of Isfahan, Iran, located along the south bank of the Zayande River.

Established and named after the older city of Julfa (Jugha), Nakhichavan in the early 17th century, it is still one of the oldest and largest Armenian quarters in the world.


Map of New Julfa (planimetry).

New Julfa was established in 1606 as an Armenian quarter by the edict of Shah Abbas I from the Safavid dynasty. Over 150,000 Armenians were moved there from the older Julfa (also known as Jugha or Juła) in Nakhichavan. Iranian sources state that the Armenians came to Iran fleeing the Ottoman Empire's persecution. Nevertheless, historical records indicate that the residents of Julfa were treated well by Shah Abbas in the hopes that their resettlement in Isfahan would be beneficial to Iran due to their knowledge of the silk trade.[1][2]

In 1947, the famous historian Fernand Braudel wrote that the Armenians had a trade network that stretched from Amsterdam to Manila in the Philippines. Many scholars in Armenia have done pioneering work on this network in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Levon Khachikian and Sushanik Khachikian have edited and published several New Julfan account books. Over the next few centuries, New Julfa became the hub of "one of the greatest trade networks of the early modern era,"[3] with outposts as far east as Canton, Surabaya, and Manila,[4] and as far west as Cadiz, London, and Amsterdam, with a few merchants traveling across the Atlantic or Pacific oceans to Acapulco or Mexico City.

An old photograph of the Holy Savior Cathedral from the 1930s.

A significant majority of Armenian trading families were based in New Julfa. Due to their dispersal, many families that were originally from the older city of Julfa[2][1][5] created a main settlement in Bengal expanding the trade network based in New Julfa.[1] However, Some scholars argue that Surat, Bengal and Hughli were independent nodes and that the central control of New Julfa was not as important to their thriving Indian Ocean trade.[4] Many New Julfan Armenians later settled in Manila, Hong Kong, and also in Australia. Their networks have been studied based on Armenian sources.[1][2] Not forgetting Singapore, where Armenians from New Julfa became the mainstay of the community. Most were traders, but perhaps better known were the Sarkies (Ter Woskanian) brothers who founded Singapore's iconic Raffles Hotel in 1887.

A Christmas shop in New Julfa.

New Julfa is still an Armenian-populated area with an Armenian school and sixteen churches, including the Holy Savior Cathedral. Armenians in New Julfa observe Iranian law with regard to clothing, but retain a distinct Armenian language, identity, cuisine, and culture which is protected by the Iranian government.[6]

According to David Petrosyan of the Institute for Central Asian and Caucasian Studies, New Julfa had between 10,000–12,000 Armenian inhabitants in 1998.[7] As of today, it is still one of the world's largest ethnic Armenian quarters. The district is popular with young people in Isfahan, and is experiencing considerable growth compared to other districts of the city.



Ceiling of the Holy Savior Cathedral.
Museum of Khachatur Kesaratsi

Armenian Apostolic[edit]

  • Holy Savior Cathedral (Surp Amenaprgich, commonly known as the Vank) – 1655
  • Saint Jacob Church (Surp Hakop) – 1607
  • Saint George Church (Surp Gevork) – 1611
  • Holy Mother of God Church (Surp Asdvadzadzin) – 1613
  • Saint Stephen Church (Surp Stepanos) – 1614
  • Saint John the Baptist Church (Surp Hovannes Mgrditch) – 1621
  • Saint Catherine Nunnery (Surp Katarine) – 1623
  • Holy Bethlehem Church (Surp Betłehem) – 1628
  • Saint Nicholas Church (Surp Nikołayos Hayrapet) – 1630
  • Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator (Surp Grigor Lusavoritch) – 1633
  • Saint Sarkis Church (Surp Sarkis) – 1659
  • Saint Menas Church (Surp Minas) – 1659
  • Saint Nerses Church (Surp Nerses) – 1666

Roman Catholic[edit]

  • Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary (Dominicans) – 1681/1705


  • Saint Paul Church – 1875


Notable people[edit]

The statues at the entrance of the Museum of Khachatur Kesaratsi
Statue of Khachatur Kesaratsi, founder of the first publishing house in Iran
Statue of Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet



  1. ^ a b c d Sushil Chaudhuri and Kéram Kévonian eds., Les Arméniens dans le commerce asiatique au début de l’ere moderne [Armenians in Asian trade in the Early Modern Era], (Paris, 2007).
  2. ^ a b c Baghdiantz McCabe, Ina The Shah’s Silk for Europe’s Silver: The Eurasian Silk trade of the Julfan Armenians in Safavid Iran and India (1590–1750). University of Pennsylvania Series, Scholar’s Press, 1999.
  3. ^ Sebouh Aslanian. "The Salt in a Merchant's Letter": The Culture of Julfan Correspondence in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. Journal of World History 19 (2008): 127-188
  4. ^ a b Bhattacharya, Bhaswatti “Making Money at the Blessed Place of Manilla: Armenians in the Madras- Manila Trade in the Eighteenth Century.” Journal of Global History, (2008),3, 1-20.
  5. ^ Mesrob Jacob Seth, an Armenian historian
  6. ^ Vasgen Ghougassian The Emergence of the Diocese of New Julfa in the Seventeenth Century, Atlanta, University of Pennsylvania Series), 1998.
  7. ^ Petrosyan, David (1998). Армянская община в Иране (in Russian). Institute for Central Asian and Caucasian Studies. ...еще 10-12 тысяч - в Исфагане (армяне называют его Новой Джугой)...


External links[edit]

See also[edit]