Facts About The Churches Of Echmiadzin That You Will Love | Kidadl


Facts About The Churches Of Echmiadzin That You Will Love

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Did you know that the Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in the world that is still in use?

It was built in 301 CE! The cathedral has also been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The historic site lies near Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark is thought to have landed after the flood. The cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin are some of the most beautiful and historically significant buildings in Armenia. They are also incredibly important to the country's history and culture. If you're interested in learning more about these fascinating buildings, then you'll love reading this article!

Discovery And History

Under King Tiridates' tenure in the early fourth century, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first kingdom to make Christianity its official religion. According to history, Armenia's Christian church began with the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the first century. It was initially proclaimed by two disciples of Jesus Christ, Saint Thaddeus, and Saint Bartholomew. The Armenian Apostolic Church claims to have existed since the time of the apostles, making it one of Christianity's oldest churches.

The first cathedral built in ancient Armenia was Etchmiadzin Cathedral. The original church was built in 301 CE, but the current church was completed in 483 CE. The cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin were founded by Saint Gregory the Illuminator. According to Armenian traditions and historians, Jesus Christ came to Saint Gregory the Illuminator in a vision and requested the construction of a cathedral within the ancient city. By striking the ground with a golden hammer, Jesus demonstrated the exact location where the planned construction should be placed in the vision. Saint Gregory was a priest who converted King Tiridates III from paganism to Christianity. The church claims that Tiridates imprisoned St. Gregory for 13 years in an abandoned pit known as Khor Virab, after which he cured the King of terrible sickness, prompting Tiridates to join Christianity. This conversion led Armenia to become one of the first countries in history with an official state religion.

'Etchmiadzin', or 'the Descent of the Only Begotten Son', was the name given to the first cathedral, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The cathedral serves as the spiritual and administrative heart of the Armenian Church to the Armenian people. Due to its significance in the Armenian religious center and cultural history, the cathedral was classified as part of a UNESCO World Heritage zone in 2000 CE, which also includes St. Gayane Church, St. Hripsime Church, and the archaeological remnants of Zvartnots Cathedral.

Architecture And Design

Etchmiadzin Cathedral, established in the fourth century, is Armenia's political and spiritual heart. It is also one of the world's oldest churches. The seventh-century Saint Hripsime is one of the oldest remaining examples of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture and is one of the several UNESCO-listed churches in the Holy City of Vagharshapat.

Armenians refer to the Etchmiadzin Cathedral as the 'Mother Cathedral of Etchmiadzin', and it is one of the world's oldest examples of Christian architecture. Etchmiadzin Cathedral, according to several scholars, is not only Armenia's oldest cathedral but also one of the world's oldest Christian cathedrals. The cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin are beautiful examples of Christian architecture. The cathedral combines both Armenian and Roman styles, while the churches feature a unique blend of Byzantine, Georgian, and Armenian elements.

The cathedral is 108 ft (33 m) long and 98 ft (30 m) wide, with a height of more than 65 ft (20 m). After the cathedral was badly damaged in a Persian invasion, Vahan Mamikonian built the nucleus of the existing structure in 483-484. Etchmiadzin was the seat of the Catholicos, the Armenian Church's highest head, from its founding until the second period of the fifth century. Etchmiadzin Cathedral's exterior is a blend of Armenian architectural and artistic styles as a consequence of modifications and renovations over many years. The reliefs on the cathedral's northern wall, which show Saint Paul the Apostle and Saint Theclas, are particularly noteworthy. In the year 630 CE, Catholicos Ezra I constructed St. Gayane. Despite partial restorations of the roof and some ceilings in 1652, the design has remained constant. In 1683, a light-filled, triple-arched portico was constructed to the church's western front as a burial place for notable Armenian pastors. Frescos of clerics adorn niches along the portico's internal walls, while saints are shown on the tympanum's fresco above the main entry. Saint Gayane Church, along with other churches, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in the year 2000.

It was the first church built in ancient Armenia and is frequently referred to as the world's oldest church.

Archaeological Excavations

There have been several archaeological excavations conducted at the cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin. These excavations have revealed a great deal about the history and architecture of these sites!

Archaeological evidence from the Etchmiadzin Church's crypt suggests that the cathedral was built on the location of a pagan fire altar on purpose. Following excavations between 1955 and 1959, the ruins of an antique Christian church with stones and wooden interior walls were discovered. In the early fourth century, St. Gregory the Illuminator most likely ordered this construction. The current outline and shape of the cathedral, which exists on the site today, comes from around 483 CE when then-Governor of Armenia, Vahan Mamikonian, ordered a reconstruction of Saint Gregory the Illuminator's original edifice. The modifications may have been recompense for the Armenian Apostolic Church's relocation to Devin in 485 CE, but other experts believe the earlier building was devastated by fire. Rather than the longitudinal layout of the earlier church and other Christian basilicas, Etchmiadzin Cathedral was reconstructed on a square plan. The original wooden structure was replaced with a stone structure in the seventh century.

In the succeeding years, architects built a belfry in 1653 and a sacristy in 1868 to the cathedral. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, schools,  a hostel, and other buildings were built alongside the cathedral. The magnificent frescoes within the cathedral were finished by Naghash Hovnatan between 1712 and 1721, and rotundas on four-pillar bases were created in the 18th century.


Etchmiadzin has been a significant location in Armenia not only spiritually, but also socially and culturally, being the principal shrine of Armenian Christians worldwide. It is a prominent pilgrimage site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. In 2000, UNESCO designated the cathedral, along with many other important early medieval churches in the area, as a World Heritage Site.

Etchmiadzin flourished rapidly from the fifth to the mid-seventh centuries, becoming a major center of popular attraction and tourism. There are many historical attractions near the cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin. These include the Zvartnots Cathedral, which was built between 643-652 CE as an administrative center for Armenia during that time period. It is now in ruins on the outskirts of the Armenian city of Vagharshapat, in the Armavir Province.

The church of St. Gayane is one of Armenia's most important architectural landmarks. In the year 2000, St. Gayane Church was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, together with the historical churches city of Vagharshapat. The interior of Saint Gayane Church is divided into three naves by an octagonal drum standing on four internal pillars. Three doors lead into the building's interior. The main entrance is through the arched portico, and there are two side entrances on the north and south sides.

Saint Hripsime Church is an Armenian Apostolic church built in the seventh century in Vagharshapat city, Armenia. It is one of the country's oldest remaining churches. Catholicos Komitas built the church to substitute the ancient tomb, which was built by Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 CE and contained the preserved remains of the murdered Saint Hripsime, to whom the church is dedicated.


How old are the churches in Armenia?

The Armenian Church is one of the world's oldest, having been founded in the first century CE.

How old is the Etchmiadzin Cathedral?

The cathedral is the oldest cathedral in the world that is still in use. It was built in 301 CE and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Was the first church built in Armenia?

The Armenian Apostolic Church's mother church, Etchmiadzin Cathedral, is located in Vagharshapat, Armenia. Most experts believe it was the first church built in ancient Armenia, and it is frequently referred to as the world's oldest cathedral.

Is Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin Catholic?

It is centered on Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat, Armenia, which serves as the seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians, the church's head.

Who built Etchmiadzin Cathedral?

It was founded by St Gregory the Illuminator who established Christianity as a state religion.

What is the architectural style of cathedrals and churches of Echmiadzin ?

Armenian architecture is the architectural style of cathedrals and churches of Echmiadzin.

Who was the architect who built the cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin?

The cathedral and churches of Echmiadzin were not built by any one architect. Instead, they were constructed by many people, including Saint Gregory the Illuminator and King Tiridates III.

When did it get designated to UNESCO heritage site?

The cathedral was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Written By
Gincy Alphonse

<p>As a skilled visual storyteller, Gincy's passion lies in bringing ideas to life through creative design. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Application from New Horizon College and has perfected her expertise with a PG Diploma in Graphic Design from Arena Animation. Gincy's talent shines in the realm of branding design, digital imaging, layout design, and print and digital content writing. She believes that content creation and clear communication are art forms in themselves, and is constantly striving to refine her craft.</p>

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