As an important commercial center, Djulfa became notable for its many medieval architectural monuments in the middle ages.

Among them were its splendid bridge, mighty fortress, impressive monastery, eight handsome stone-built churches, numerous caravanserai and trade centers, the covered market, resplendent mansions, its ram-shaped tombstones, and perhaps most of all for its many thousands of intricately carved Armenian memorial stelae called khatchkars, which for centuries stood upright in Djulfa’s cemetery and near its churches.

The Monastery of Amenaprkich (The Holy Redeemer)

The Amenaprkich Monastery complex consisted of a small church, a gavit, a refectory, one and two-storied annexes, and other auxiliary structures enclosed within a rampart. According to M. Smbatiants, the Monastery was founded in 1271 by a “paron” (sir or Mr. in Armenian derived from the French “baron”) Vahram. However, written sources indicate that this monastery was, in fact, older than 1271. The Catholicos Khatchik testified in a document that in 976, King Ashot of Armenia, ‘the king of kings of Armenia’, gave lands to the St. Stepanos monastery in Darashamb. On the basis of this information, and of the architectural features and composition of the structure, it may be concluded that the initial building phase of the monastery began no later than the 9th or 10th centuries. The wide entrance, however, has a slightly pointed arch, which is a common feature of 12th and 13th century Armenian architecture.

The strong high walls enclosing the rectangular monastery complex are still intact at a height of 2.5 meters. They are built of a rubble-stone and limestone mixture and give the impression of a fortress-rampart whose small and only entrance is on the southern façade.

The monastery has its own small cemetery – not the famous cemetery – where the ashes of monks and bishops are interred. Khatchkars with remarkable reliefs were erected for these individuals, most of which have been dated to the 15th-16th centuries). A shallow stream was used to irrigate the monastery gardens. The trees and beds of greenery were considered to have magical powers, where anyone who dared to even secretly cut off a bush or branch from that garden would be instantly punished.The above is a description based on the condition of the monument in 1990. The current status of the Amenaprkich Monastery is unknown.  Caves and Caverns

Among the ravines of the “Kamu” gorge and the mountains near Jugha there are a number of crevices, natural caves, and caverns of which the more well-known are the “Jgnavor” (hermit), and the “Krekatjatun” (place where lime was produced). They are located north of the Amenaprkich Monastery in the “Kamu” gorge.

During the II-I millennia B.C., these caverns were used for shelter, while in the period preceeding the “great deportation” from Djulfa they were secure hiding-places. The cave “Krekatjatun” was also used in the Middle-Ages as a workshop to prepare lime, from which it received its name.

Public Bath

This monument was situated between the town cemetery, and the area near the Araxes River. It was completely demolished during the construction of the railway line. It was described by Kajberuni, who was in Djulfa in 1875. He wrote that “between the cemetery and the Araxes the traveler will see a splendid domed bath of limestone mixture whose broad foyer with its three doors looks out upon the Araxes. You enter the long hall, vaulted on the right and left with small rooms at the ends, then enter the great vaulted room of the bath whose dome is partly destroyed. Within the vaulted structure is the water reservoir, furnace, etc.”

The bath was probably built in the 16th century, since it is traditionally connected with Khoja Khatchik, the mayor of Djulfa during this time. 

Main Caravanserai

The remnants of what is believed to have been the main caravanserai of the town are situated on the level site between the Araxesand the railway line. The layout of the structure replicates those used for the closed markets of commercial buildings. It is a large building that is 37 meters in length, the greater part of which is now in ruins. It had vaulted roofing, and was constructed of partially worked stone, brick, and a limestone mixture, while the interior was plastered. Inside, there are many rooms, large and small, for travelers, their goods, and their animals. The main entrances of this building are on its southern façade. This caravanserai was probably built in the 12th or 13th century, and had a restoration connected with Mayor Khatchik in the 16th century.

A bridge, whose ruins can still be seen, once spanned the Araxesbetween the above mentioned caravanserai and another, which was quite similar. Located in present-day Iranian territory, the other caravanserai has been preserved in its entirety. After the destruction of that bridge, there was a ferry-boat connection between the two caravanserais from the 19th century until 1910-1915.

The main caravanserai is most likely intact since Azerbaijancan claim it as a Muslim monument due to the secular nature of the building. An official Azerbaijani website, for instance, refers to the monument as “Gulustan Karvansara” (after the nearby village Gulustan) and states that the caravanserai “is the most beautiful and largest railway caravanserai among others in Azerbaijan.”  


The Djulfa fortress was built between the 10th-12th centuries on the mountain between the Araxes Riverand its nearby mountain chain in the eastern part of the ancient town. With its high ramparts, it has for centuries been called the Djulfa or Darvazr Fortress, the latter name coming from the tall-towered gate of the main rampart ,which protects the town from the east. It was built mostly of rubble and roughly shaped stone. The fortress walls, including its towers and most of its auxiliary structures, can still be identified even though they are currently in ruins.

The Pombloz or Hovivi (Sheperds) Church

This church was located about 300 meters northwest of the main caravanserai of the town. It was a small cruciform church with a central dome, and was almost square on the exterior. It was built of small reddish stones, and had one entrance. Inscriptions on khatchkars on its exterior and interior walls indicate that the church was reconstructed in the 16th century. 

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The church was surrounded on practically all sides by 16th and 17th century tombstones and partly broken khatchkars. Another cemetery was located on the mountain slope south of the church, which had a number of finely carved khatchkars and ram-shaped tombstones.

The Pombloz church was completely demolished in December 2002 (the aftermath was documented by photographs taken from the Iranian side of the border). The khatchkars and other gravestones formerly located on the slope below the church have also been entirely removed as observed by Steven Sim.

St. Astvadsadsin (Mother of God) Church

The current status of the St. Astvadsadsin Church is unknown, the description below is based on its condition in 1990.This church is located close to the rampart surrounding the town and was built on a high hill-like rock in the eastern part of the city. It has a rectangular floor plan, a vaulted roof, and an eastern apse with two small vestries. The church’s northern and eastern walls, built mostly of rough stone, are laid out on natural rocks. The interior was plastered.

The initial structure was built in the 12th or 13th century, and was probably restored at the end of the 15th century. Khatchkars in memory of Shak, Minas, Kheran and other Jughaites are located in the interior of the church, in the masonry of the vestries, and the raised chancel. Those on the western and southwestern ends of the church have since been removed.

St. Astvadsadsin is surrounded by a rather high secure wall making it look like a small fortress. A cemetery located southwest of the church on a nearby slope has 60 khatchkars and other tombstones which are either broken or partially buried. They date from the 16th and 17th century and have inscriptions which contain interesting information on the past history of Jugha.

*This page is excerpted from “The Medieval City of Jugha” written by Tufts University Professor Lucy Der Manuelian and Art Historian Steven Sim based on texts taken from Argam Aivazyan, Jugha, Yerevan, 1990. Some of the paragraphs have been edited. Published in “The Destruction of Jugha and the Entire Armenian Cultural Heritage in Nakhijevan.” © 2006 Switzerland-Armenia Association, Bern.