ON THE SOUTH BANK
Shah Abbas's ambitious plans of enhancing the economic prosperity of his capital made him transfer the entire Armenian population of the town of Julfa in Azerbaijan to New Julfa, created on the south bank of the Zayandeh-Rud. This action was motivated by several factors. First, the Armenians were enterprising and could considerably raise the output of Esfahan's economy. Secondly, Shah Abbas wanted to integrate Iran into the 17th-century international community, in which Christian Armenians, who could easily blend with the Christian West, served him well. Thirdly, by this act Shah Abbas deprived his rivals, the Ottoman Turks, of one of their most important marketplaces. Finally, Shah Abbas intended to usher in an era of tolerance and mutual understanding among the people of different backgrounds.
Initially, the Armenians suffered indignation from being deported to New Julfa, a distant land. In compensation, they were granted many special privileges. Each Armenian family was given a plot of land and also necessary provisions that allowed them to set up industrial, agricultural or trade businesses. Armenians were allowed to sell and buy property, especially land, choose their Own community leaders, and hold religious ceremonies according to their own Christian customs. During the reign of the Safavid monarchs thirteen churches were built in this district. Muslims who violated the rights of Armenians were severely punished.
Before long, traders, industrialists, Christian missionaries, and non-Iranian , Armenians poured contributions into Esfahan, making Julfa a showcase for Shah Abbas's achievements. But already by Chardin's time, there were signs that the days of Iulfas prosperity were numbered. Taxes were increased, while sympathy was withdrawn. Shah Solei man Safavid began a mild persecution, which under Shah Sultan Hossein became a calculated campaign of violence. But after a relatively short period of decline, the Armenian district of Julfa regained its importance. It is enough to mention that the property here is the most expensive in modern Esfahan.
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