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Tourist Attraction Information Mako Qara Church

The Church of Mako, the Church of St. Thaddeus or the Church of Tatavus, known as the first church in the Christian world, is one of the religious attractions of West Azerbaijan, located 20 km from Chaldoran, along with the two churches of Zour Zour and St. Stephen of Iran. Are considered.

Church of Mako, If you are interested in seeing historical and religious attractions, join Kejaru in this article to introduce you to Qarah-e- Kelisa.

About Mako Qara Church

Mountains around Qara Church Mako

Photo source: Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi)

Qara-e-Kelisa is one of the most beautiful and colorful Armenian churches in Iran, which is known as the first church in the Christian world. This church is on the tomb of Tataeus; One of the apostles of Jesus Christ (PBUH) was built and the history of its construction, according to available documents, dates back to the martyrdom of St. Tataeus by the successor of the King of Armenia.

The Church of West Azerbaijan is known as the oldest church in the world

The church is located in the heart of Turkish and Muslim towns and villages, and the annual gathering of Christians for religious ceremonies is well received by the region’s Shiites, and some locals also host travelers to the Christian religion. Due to its unique architecture, this historical and religious monument was inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2008 at the 32nd UNESCO World Heritage Session in Quebec, Canada, along with the two churches of St. Stephen and Zor Zour.

The story of Qara Kelisa

New section of Qara Church

Photo source: UNESCO

Tataeus was one of the apostles of Jesus Christ who traveled to this land around the year 40 AD at the invitation of “Abkar”, the king of Armenia, to preach Christianity. After the death of Abkar, a man named Sanadruk came to the kingdom. He and his daughter, Sandakht, converted to Christianity; Shortly afterwards, however, Sanadrock abandoned the religion and opposed Tataeus. 

In 66 AD, St. Thaddeus, along with Sandakht and several others who believed in Christianity, were arrested by order of the king and killed after being tortured, and St. Thaddeus was buried in the present place of Deir ez-Zor. Later, a small chapel was built on his grave, and in the 7th century AD, this chapel became a large church.

Another account is that Tataeus built a church for his followers when he came to Armenia and was buried in the sanctuary of the church when he was assassinated by Sanadruk. The king’s daughter is also buried near the church, whose tomb is now located near the church.

The name of the church

View of the small dome of the church through the trees

Photo source: Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi)

The Church of St. Thaddeus, also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is called “Surp Tadeosi Vank” in Armenian (Surb Tadeosi vank in Armenian) and Surb Tadeosi vank in Latin. This church is known among the Armenians as the Holy Thaddeus, and historians of the eighth century AH and later in their works have called it the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

However, the use of the word Qara for this church, which means black in Turkish, is thought to be due to the use of black stone in its construction; But the language of the Azerbaijani people before the influence of Turkish was Azeri (the ancient language of Azerbaijan). Certainly in the period before the eighth century AH, the church of Tatavus had another name.

In the Azeri-speaking Tati and Harzani dialects, the words “kaleh” or “kala” mean “great.” Qara in Azeri Turkish means big and the word itself is changed to “macro”; Therefore, the church was originally “Kara Church” or “Church Good”. 

Since the Armenians call the monasteries, the cultural, artistic, literary and religious complex “Vank”, Vank Tatous, like other Armenian vans, was a meeting place for scholars, calligraphers, calligraphers, philosophers, historians and scientists, and the Vank Library was used by them. And the word Vank corresponds exactly to the meaning of the Azeri name of the church “Kara”; Even today, this church is known as “Qara Kelisa” or “Qara Kelisa”.

Qara Church Architecture

The domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Photo source: Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi)

Qara Kelisa has a beautiful and eye-catching architecture and is famous among Iranian churches and has unique features. One of the most important features of Qara-e-Kilisa is the decoration of this ancient work with the stories of Shahnameh, which has given a special beauty to this work. The technique and volume of this church, in turn, is one of the rarest works of visual arts. The reliefs of the church are ultimately beautiful, elegant, fit and with related themes by tasteful, experienced and skillful artists.

The church insulator has various and beautiful carvings and reliefs

The area of ​​the church is 6,285 square meters, which is surrounded by high walls and towers and is very similar to the “Achmiadzin” church. The church has two parts, the old part with carved and black stones and the new part with white stones and decorated with two beautiful domes in sizes of 24 and 18 meters. There are 44 delays around this place.

The Cathedral of St. Tatavus consists of a set of ancillary spaces consisting of two courtyards, east and west, and 47 rooms for monks, students, scholars and writers, church guards and its library. 

In addition, there is a small basement under the rooms and small spaces such as dining, kitchen, mill, extractor, crypt for food storage and other spaces in the western side life.

Photo source: Borna News Agency (Photographer: Ali Ghayyur), Shabestan News Agency (Photographer: Saeed Nouri), Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi) and UNESCO

 If you look at the cross section of Tatavus Church, the whole building is seen as a single building. Unlike the original Armenian temples, which are square in shape, this church is rectangular. The eastern part is made of black stone and is the only part that survived the 1391 earthquake and includes the altar and side rooms and the front yard of the altar and a small dome.

The exterior of Qara Mako Church has interesting and beautiful architectural designs including flower and plant maps, human images, animal shapes and motifs containing fictional events. Due to the architectural features of this historical building, the existence of defensive walls around the church and its main entrance, this building is also considered a castle. In the four directions of the castle, there are five watchtowers in the shape of an arch.

The tomb of Sandakht, the Armenian prince who was martyred for his Christian beliefs, is also located on a hill near the church. Inside the church there are several tombstones and a stone pool and many reliefs are engraved on the outer walls of the church. The roof of the altar of the church is beautifully decorated with black and white marble. Inside the church and on the wall, there is a place to light candles.

Restoration of the church

Restoration of the dome of the church

Photo source: Shabestan News Agency (Photographer: Saeed Nouri)

The church has been looted and destroyed many times over the years and has been badly damaged by natural disasters such as earthquakes. The invasion of the Mongols and their successors, the invasion of Timur Lang, the invasion of the Ottoman army and the civil wars of Azerbaijan have caused great damage to this building. For the first time, a large part of Qarah-e-Kelisa was destroyed during the Mongol invasion; However, during the reign of Hulagu Khan, this church was restored by Khajeh Nasir al-Din Tusi.

Qara-e-Kelisa has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over time due to various factors

Also according to the inscription next to the altar of the old part of the church, in the 14th century (1319 AD) a terrible earthquake destroyed the building of the church and the existing building by Bishop Zakaria and two of his brothers named Peter and Sarkis in the period It was repaired and rebuilt for 10 years and in 1401 the church doors were opened to pilgrims again. The church was also rebuilt with black stones in 1691 and with white stones in 1810 by order of Simon Beznoni.

Simon Beznuni ordered white marble slabs from the Qarkh Bolagh and Shavershan (Mako) areas to be transported to the church site and the old church to be rebuilt on the west side of the old church. The newer church building was added to the older section during the Qajar period by order of Crown Prince Abbas Mirza. The new church is decorated with white stones and unique carvings inspired by the Achmiadzin Cathedral of Armenia; However, the construction of this church remained unfinished due to the death of Abbas Mirza.

Qarah Church Ceremony

Altar of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

Photo source: Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi)

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is highly revered among Armenians. Many of them take their children to this church for baptism, celebrate there, sacrifice sheep, and ask God and Jesus (pbuh) for their wishes.

Every year in Qara Church, a religious ceremony called Badarak or the Lord’s Supper is held, and at this time non-Christians can not visit this church.

In this church, every year from the end of July to the beginning of August, which coincides with the martyrdom of St. Tataeus, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ (PBUH); A religious service called “Badarak” or the Lord’s Supper is held and Christians perform prayers and sacrifices while visiting the tomb of Tataeus. The ceremony is from Thursday to Saturday, culminating on the third day and Saturday, when a monk buried in the church is believed to have died on one of these three days of the year.

It is free for Christians and most Armenians from far and near Iran, including the cities of Urmia, Tabriz, Tehran, Isfahan and other countries such as Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany and Canada in this ceremony. They will attend.

Where is Qara Kelisa?


Courtyard of the Church of Thaddeus

Photo source: Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi)

Qarah Kelisa is one of the sights of Mako , which is located near the village of Qarah Kelisa, seven kilometers from Chaldoran road to Qarah Zia-al-Din, as well as south of Mako city. The distance from Qarah Kelisa to Chaldoran city is about 20 km, which is located in the northeast direction of Chaldoran and in the “Siah Cheshmeh” area.

This church is located in the mountainous region of Chaldoran, which is the highest region of West Azerbaijan province. The church building is located on a low hill and is actually located at the foot of the mountain, which overlooks the shallow valley to the east, where there is a river.

Access to Qarah Church 

Qarah Church Road

Photo source: Young Journalists Club (Photographer: Pouria Torabi)

To see Tatavous Church, you have to go to the northwest of Iran and the beautiful province of West Azerbaijan. You can go to this historical church through two routes: Tabriz and Urmia:

  • Possible first: The first way that takes you from Tabriz to Qarah Kelisa through Tabriz. In this route, you will pass through the cities of Marand, Qarah Zia-ud-Din and Shut. It is about 35 km from Shut to Qara Kilisa. Qara Kelisa is located almost in the middle of the road to Chaldoran. As you move from Shot to Chaldoran, the Qarah-e-Kelisa intersection is to your right. Most of this route, that is, from Tabriz to Shoa intersection, is an international transit road and has a better quality than the second route.
  • Second route: On the second route, you will reach Qara Kilisa through Urmia and you will pass the cities of Salmas, Khoy and Chaldoran. Khoy to Chaldoran road with a distance of about 100 km is mountainous and relatively side.

Distance from Tabriz to Qarah Kelisa: about 270 km

Distance from Urmia to Qarah Kelisa: about 275 km

  • Address of Qara-e-Kelisa Mako: 20 km northeast of Chaldoran city, Qara-e-Kelisa village ( see on the map )

The best time to visit Qara Jolfa Julfa

The white and black stones of the church

Photo source: Shabestan News Agency (Photographer: Saeed Nouri)

Due to the fact that this region has a cold climate in autumn and winter; The best time to visit Qara Church is spring and summer. A point to consider when choosing a time for this church is that it is not possible for non-Christians to visit during the days when Christian services are held here.

Ticket prices and visiting hours of Qarah Church

Cross the dome of the church

Photo source: Shabestan News Agency (Photographer: Saeed Nouri)


Ticket price for Qarah Church: 5 thousand Tomans

Visiting hours of Qarah Church: first half of the year: from 9 am to 8 pm and second half of the year: from 9 am to 5 pm

Photographs of the Qara Church of Chaldoran at the Armenian ritual

Photo source: ISNA News Agency (Photographer: Soheil Faraji)

Sights around Qara Church

Tomb near Qara Church

Photo source: UNESCO

One of the sights near Qarah-e-Kelisa is the Sandokht tomb, which is located on the highest point of the northern heights of Qara-e-Kilisa and dates back to 1813 AD. Zakaria Church and Tomb are located in a valley 300 meters north of Qarah. Other attractions that we suggest you visit after visiting Qarah Church are the two churches of St. Stephen’s Church and the Church of Zor Zor.

Poems about Qara Kelisa

In 1229 AH, the church was restored by the order of Crown Prince Abbas Mirza. After this repair, a poem by the poets of the time on a piece of marble in Nasta’liq script; Nicknamed Nova, it was installed above the main entrance of the church. This poem is as follows:

He was heartbroken because the spirit of God made him a native of Amhat / Milad and he was born again for a while

From when did the companions go to Tatavous? The name of this prostration place

By the time of Fath Ali’s government, he / she would have been given such a cloud in Fashan

From his Crown Prince Shah Jahan Abbas Shah / Ko to Giti Shohreh in justice and justice

That many ruins like Kufa in Iran / For example in the era of justice became the zeal of Baghdad

It can not be repaired except my ruined heart / It has destroyed every ruin you saw in the world

The Kurds rebuilt this ancient ruin / Both God was pleased and the founder was happy

Because of his command and the action of the masters, it became a little harder than iron and stronger than steel

He said that this line was reopened after the date of its repair by Nova / Vanak Tatavous

“A poet nicknamed Nova”

common questions

Where is Qara Kelisa?

Qara Kilisa is located in the village of Qara Kilisa in the province of West Azerbaijan and 20 km northeast of Chaldoran.

What time is it to visit Qarah Church?

From Qara Kelisa in the first half of the year from 9 am to 8 pm and in the second half of the year from 9 am to 5 pm.

When is the Qara Church ceremony held?

Religious ceremonies are held every year from late July to early August, during which time it is not possible for non-Christians to visit.

What are the parts inside the church?

The church has two courtyards, east and west, and 47 rooms for monks, students, researchers and writers, church guards and its library. In addition, there is a small basement under the rooms and small spaces such as dining, kitchen, mill, extractor, crypt for food storage and other spaces in the western side life.