New Julfa

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View of the New Julfa neighborhood in 2009

New Julfa (Persian: محله جلفای اصفهان ‎‎, literally "Jolfa quarter of Ēsfahan"; Armenian: Նոր Ջուղա, Nor Jugha) is the Armenian quarter of Isfahan, Iran, located along the south bank of the river Zayandeh River. Established by Armenians from (Old) Julfa (Jugha), Nakhichevan in the early 17th century, it is still one of the oldest and largest Armenian quarters in the world.


New Julfa was established in 1606 as an Armenian quarter by edict of Shah Abbas I, the influential shah from the Safavid dynasty. Over 150,000 Armenians were moved there from Julfa (also known as Jugha or Juła) in Nakhichevan. Iranian accounts state that the Armenians came to Persia fleeing the Ottoman Empire's persecution;.[1] All history accounts agree that, as the residents of Julfa were famous for their silk trade (Kévonian, Baghdiantz, Herzig), Shah Abbas treated the population well and hoped that their resettlement in Isfahan would be beneficial to Persia.

In 1947 the famous historian Fernand Braudel wrote that the Armenians had a network that stretched from Amsterdam to Manila in the Philippines. Many scholars in Armenia have done pioneering work on this network in the 60's, 70's and 80's, 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" (Aslanian 2008: 128), with outposts as far east as Canton, Surabaya, and Manila (Bhattacharya) 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.

New Julfa has born many different Armenian trading families. Families that were originally from Julfa (Baghdiantz, Chaudhuri, see also Mesrop Seth) created a main settlement in Bengal (Chaudhuri). 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 (Bhattacharya). Many New Julfan Armenians later settled in Manila, Hong Kong and also in Australia. Their networks have been studied based on Armenian sources (Baghdiantz, Kévonian, Khachikian). 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. [Wright]

New Julfa is still an Armenian-populated area with an Armenian school and sixteen churches, including Surp Amenaprgitch Vank, which is a Unesco World Heritage site, and undoubtebly one of the most beautiful churches in Iran. Armenians in New Julfa observe Iranian law with regard to clothing, but otherwise retain a distinct Armenian language, identity cuisine, and culture (Ghougassian). The policy of the Safavids was very tolerant towards the Armenians as compared to other minorities, such as the Iranian Georgians and Circassians.

According a reference by David Petrosyan of the Institute for Central Asian and Caucasian studies, New Julfa had between 10,000-12,000 Armenian inhabitants in 1998.[2] As of today it is still one of the largest ethnic Armenian quarters in the world.

Popular with young people in Esfahan, it is experiencing considerable growth compared to other districts.

Churches in the District[edit]

Vank Cathedral (Kelisa-e Vank) in New Julfa

Armenian Apostolic churches in New Julfa:

Roman Catholic church:

Protestant church:

  • St. Paul Church - 1875

Seventh-day Adventist church:

  • Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1957

Assemblies of God church:

  • Assemblies of God Church - 1965

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ see this article on Iranian churches
  2. ^ 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)... 
  • Hin Jugha in Armeniapedia.
  • 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.
  • 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’sPress, 1999.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Sushil Chaudhuri “Trading Networks in a Traditional Diaspora: Armenians in India 1600-1800.”, in Diaspora and Entrepreneurial Networks 1600-2000. Ina Baghdiantz McCabe, Gelina Harlaftis, Ionna Minoglu, eds., Oxford, 2005, 51-72.
  • Vasgen Ghougassian The Emergence of the Diocese of New Julfa in the Seventeenth Century, Atlanta, University of Pennsylvania Series), 1998.
  • Gregorian, Vartan. “Minorities of Isphahan: The Armenian Community of Isphahan,1587-1722.” Iranian Studies 7, no. 2 (1974), pp. 652–81.
  • Wright Nadia H., Respected Citizens: The History of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia, Amassia Publishing, 2003.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°38′10.79″N 51°39′20.55″E / 32.6363306°N 51.6557083°E / 32.6363306; 51.6557083