Echmiadzin has located about 20 km from the Armenian capital. Back in the 6th century BC, there was a small settlement here. In the 117th year of our era, the Armenian king Vagharshak founded a city here, which he named “Nor Kahak” (New City), and after the death of the king in his honour, the city was renamed Vagharshapat. The main attraction of the city, which attracted believers, was the main temple (301 AD), according to legend, built on the place where the Savior once descended to earth. It was this place that gave the city the name it still bears (“Each Miadzin” – “Descent of the Only Begotten”).
Today Etchmiadzin is considered the spiritual capital of Armenia, the residence of the Catholicos of all Armenians is located here, there are many temples of medieval construction and monuments of history and culture. Let’s find out which sights are worth seeing first of all when visiting Etchmiadzin.
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral, which is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world, was founded in 301-303 AD. The majestic building of the temple and monastery was built for more than one century. Originally the building was wooden, but already in the fifth century the cathedral was rebuilt, and a cruciform stone structure appeared on the site of the old church. Later, the building was completed and restored more than once, including unique frescoes and murals on the interior walls.
St. Hripsime Church
The Church of St. Hripsime, founded in 618 AD, is a magnificent example of Armenian architecture from the early Middle Ages. The church was named in honour of a beautiful Christian virgin who suffered a martyr’s death, not agreeing to become the wife of King Trdat. According to legend, as a punishment, the tsar was struck by a terrible disease, from which he was cured by St. Gregory the Illuminator. After the miraculous healing, the tsar converted to the Christian faith.
St. Gayane ‘s Church
The Church of St. Gayane, built-in 630-641 AD, is part of the Echmiadzin monastery complex. The church received its name in honour of the abbess of the Roman Christian virgins, who was tortured at this very place together with her pupils, by order of the pagan king Trdat the Third.
The Shoghakat Church, as we see it today, was built in 1694. The building of the Shoghakat Church was laid on the territory where an older church, erected in the 6th-7th century, was previously located. Shoghakat is also one of the churches dedicated to 37 innocent Christian virgins.
The unique three-tiered Zvartnots temple (“Temple of the Watchful Angels”) was built in 641-661 AD by order of Catholicos Nerses III the Builder. Zvartnots was located not far from Etchmiadzin, on the road along which Tsar Trdat the Third came out to meet Gregory the Illuminator. In the 10th century, the temple building was almost completely destroyed by a devastating earthquake, and its restoration began only in the 20th century.
Museum-treasury of the Manukians
The museum-treasury of Etchmiadzin keeps many unique exhibits, including sacred relics of value to the entire Christian world (for example, a particle of Noah’s Ark), as well as works of art, ancient church vestments and ritual accessories made of gold and silver and artfully decorated with precious stones.
“Machanents Tourism And Art”
The Machanents Craft Museum is located near Etchmiadzin. This is a cosy corner with an authentic atmosphere where you can get acquainted with traditional types of Armenian crafts, see the works of local craftsmen, as well as take an original master class, creating your own little masterpiece. And in the local restaurant, you will be offered a selection of delicious dishes of national cuisine.