Armenian Church of St. Mary
Since records of Armenians living in Shiraz go back to at least the 16th century, it seems natural that there should be a historical church building in Shiraz. St. Mary's Armenian Church was built in 1662, at the time of Shah Abbas II Safavid. It stands in the midst of a neat, garden-like compound on the site where previously stood a small chapel. Unlike the majority of Armenian churches built during the Safavid rule, St. Mary's Church does not have a cupola, and its prayer hall is covered with a lofty flat ceiling. On the north and south sides, the structure features two-story galleries, each supported by two sturdy, square, stone columns and three slender brick pillars decorated with elegant capitals. The chancel of the church is elevated several steps above the nave. On the side opposite the chancel is a balcony where newlywed or engaged girls are said to have sat during the services.
St. Mary's Church has preserved the original frescos and the beautiful style of construction of the Safavid period. It is particularly famed for the exquisite paintings on its wooden ceiling. They are executed in Safavid style and feature four medallions framed by arabesques of turquoise and gold. Until about 100 years ago, the floor of the church was covered with a hand-made carpet that mirrored the motifs of its ceiling decoration. Unfortunately, the carpet was sold, taken out, and sent abroad. The adjoining galleries are adorned with niches, arches, and plaster moldings.
Several Christian graves remain in the precincts of the church. Most of them belong to English officers of the Indian army who came to Shiraz on the way to or from India and died here. Today the church is usually closed and is open only on special occasions for the benefit of the few Armenian Christians who have remained in Shiraz.
The Church of St. Mary of Shiraz
This is one of the ancient Armenian churches in shiraz built 355 years ago during the reign of Shah Abbas II Safavid and is still in use by followers of the faith in Iran.
This old church was built in 1662 AD in the old district of "Sang-e Siah" Black Rock in Shiraz. In 1550, there was a small church in its place among the houses belonging to the Iranian-Armenians. It is located near the Moshir Mosque next to the Armenian bazaar. The church's ceiling proudly displays stucco work which can be named as one of the 11th-century masterpieces. The domed ceiling of the nave and aisles is covered with murals and stucco. The domed ceiling is not visible from the outside and the roof is flat and four corners. Armenians from Fars province settled in Shiraz mainly in the same century as when Shah Abbas forced many of them from the city of Jolfa to emigrate to central regions of Iran. When Shah Abbas Safavid conquered Jolfa in 1603 CE, he was impressed by its prosperity and wealth.