St. Hripsime church is located at the entrance to the ancient Etchmiadzin city. The church was erected in honor of the holy virgin-martyr Hripsime, whose grave is located right under the main altar. Initially, a small chapel was erected on the site of Hripsime’s execution. A chapel was demolished by the order of the Catholicos Komitas, in the 7th century, and a new majestic church was erected in its place, which is one of the most outstanding works of early medieval Armenian architecture. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other nearby churches.
The well-established transport infrastructure of Armenia allows to get to St. Hripsime church by a private car or with the help of various travel companies which offer regular excursions and tours to different sights of the country. Due to the geographical location of St. Hripsime church the trip will not seem long.
The high season in Armenia lasts for a long time due to the pleasant climate conditions. Warm days in Armenia start in March and last until late autumn; winter is usually snowless and not long. The high precipitation season is variable. The tourist season for St. Hripsime church depends on the weather conditions.
The church was erected by Catholicos Komitas to replace the original mausoleum built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 AD that contained the remains of the martyred Saint Hripsime to whom the church is dedicated. The current structure was completed in 618 AD. It is known for its fine Armenian-style architecture of the classical period, which has influenced many other Armenian churches since.
The monumental exterior of the church is "considered one of the great achievements of medieval Armenian architecture." It has been described as a "gem of Armenian architecture" and "one of the most complex compositions in Armenian architecture." The interior of Hripsime Church is laconic, modest and graceful. Archaeological excavations carried out on this territory have revealed ancient burials belonging to pre-Christian and early Christian periods.
According to the Armenian Apostolic Church, Gayane was the abbess of the monastery, which was located in the highlands of ancient Rome. The emperor Diocletian wanted to marry one of the nuns of the monastery, but all of them, refused to abandon their believes and staying faithful to their religion, decided to run to Armenia and settled near the capital Vagharshapat. The Armenian king Tiridates III, fascinated by the beauty of the same nun Hripsime, also wished to marry her. However, receiving the same answer, the king ordered to kill all the nuns. This time the nuns could not manage to escape: one by one virgins were killed. Three chapels were built in memory of these tragic events: on the grave of St. Hripsime, on the grave of St. Gayane, and the third one at the place where nuns lived and one of the them was killed.