Today we went by taxi to Jolfa, the Armenian quarter of Esfahan. It dates from the time of Shah Abbas I. But first we visited the Jameh or Friday mosque next to the Grand Bazaar. It’s one of the oldest still standing mosques in Iran, the origins lie in the 8th century. It was destroyed by a big fire and rebuilt in the 11th century. It was built with bricks in a way that they form mosaics. It looks delicate like dentelles. Light comes in through openings in the ceiling.
On the way to Jolfa, we stopped at the Ani café and had great coffee and cappuccino. Then we visited the Kelisa-ye Vank, a beautiful Armenian church, richly decorated with colourful paintings full of life, including gruesome martyrdoms and demons. The adjacent museum hosts the memorial of the 1915 Armenian Genozide during which approximately 1.5 Mio. people were killed by the Ottoman regime supporters ( military and paramilitary). There is also a beautiful collection of illustrated gospels and Bibles. The quarter dates from the time of Shah Abbas who transported a colony of 40’000 Christians for their skills to Esfahan. Today there are about 6000 Armenians living here. The quarter is very chic and well kept, there are a lot of nice boutiques.
After lunch we went to the Music Museum. Saeed had organised a surprise for us especially for my big birthday. A young musician explained all the old instruments from Iran and around the world to us. Then we had a beautiful private concert and afterwards a delicious birthday cake was waiting in the garden. Before getting back to the hotel we stopped at the river Zayande which means “giving life” and crossed the old bridge. Unfortunately there is no drop of water left. A dam was built which cut the waterflow, drying the downstream areas causing a ecological disaster.
We had dinner at the oldest restaurant of Esfahan. The day ended with a drink in the hotel garden. I could not have wished a more beautiful place to celebrate.