Echmiadzin, also known as Vagharshapat, located 18 km (11 mi) west of Yerevan, is the religious capital of Armenia. Echmiadzin hosts many churches the most prominent of which is the Cathedral or Mother Temple as Armenians call it. Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin is the official residence of Armenia's religious leader - Catholicos.
The first mentionings about Echmiadzin date back to 6th century BC. Back then it was called Kuarlini and was part of Urartu kingdom. During the following centuries, the city has changed owners and names. In various centuries it was ruled by Arabs, Turkic tribes, Mongols, Persians, and Russians. It has been called
According to a legend, Gregory the Illuminator had a vision about the Christ ascending on a place where the Cathedral eventually was built by Gregory himself and King Tiridates III in 301 - 303 AD. Within the territory of the Cathedral, several notable buildings are located: Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, historical religious monuments, museums, libraries. Together they represent Armenian history, unique relics of Armenian art and literature. Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin is responsible for preserving and passing to forthcoming generations the cultural values created here and the artifacts gifted from around the world. The cathedral is corrently undergoing a renovation but the rest of the sites in the complex are open for visitors.
St Hripsime Church
According to a legend a girl named Hripsime escaped to Armenia from Rome where she was prosecuted by Emperor Diocletian. Together with other Saint Virgins, she started to preach Christianity but soon faced the same fate of the prosecution by Armenian king Tiridates III. A memorial was established in the place where Hripsime and other Saint Virgins died. Later,
St Gayane Church
St Gayane church is named after another Saint Virgin who also fell victim of prosecutions. It was built in 630 AD in about 2 km (1.2 mi) distance from St Hripsime church. This church has a simple architectural style developed in the 7th century without many decorations. The church of Odzun shares this architectural style with St Gayane church.
St Shoghakat church
St Shoghakat church is in half a kilometer (0.3 mi) distance from St Hripsime church. It was built to commemorate Saint Virgin-martyr named
St Mary the Mother of God (Astvatsatsin) Church
This church is a small distance away from the Cathedral. It was built in 1767.
Currently partly ruined Zvartnots cathedral was a magnificent building when still standing. It was built in 643 - 652 AD situated 3 km (2 mi) away from Echmiadzin on the Yerevan - Echmiadzin highway. The reason for its collapse is probably an earthquake. It was built to substitute a pagan temple devoted to the God of Writing. You can see the remnants of the pagan temple in the nearby museum. The name derives from ancient Armenian "