The famous monastery of Sourb Thade, or in Turkish Kara-Kilise, is located in the mountainous area of western Azerbaidijan, about 20 km from the town of Makou and is today in Iranian territory Sourb Thade can be glimpsed from quite a distance thanks to the massiveness of the church, strongly characterized by 2 cuspidate tambours. The location of it has been because of some strategic reasons.
The oldest part of the church‘s exterior is striking because of it’s sobre and even austre architecture, where as in contrast the main part, rebuilt in much later epoch, has an exuberance of lines and ornaments.
In general the decoration is directly inspired by Armenian models particulary in flower and leaf motifs. There is a slight influence of Sassanid art, especially noticeable in the interlacing and the singular use of arches. Almost identical ornamental motifs are found in the Vakil of Shiraz mosque, where there is the same feeling.
Figured in the two decorative floral bands that run along the surface of the most recent parts are scenes taken from the Persian legends of and .
It is worthwhile commenting on the structure and building characteristics of the monastery of Sourb Thade. Ashlar stones are the principal material used in constructing the whole complex, in keeping with a carefully held Armenian tradition.
The dome is held up by 4 pillars in the shape of a square that are surmounted by triangular supports for enabling the the round dome to rest on them. This type of dome is found in the building tradition of the Sassanid period.
This exaple helps us to interpret more clearly the field of the mutual exchange that occurred in remote times between the art of the different nations and different religions, in which the art did not loose theist essential nature, nor did one art copy from or parody another. The influence represented rather an element of enrichment and nothing else. The essence of an art or a thought remained specifically and profoundly authentic.