Echmiadzin Cathedral (Armenia) – description, history, location. Exact address and website. Tourist reviews, videos.
Echmiadzin (Vagharshapat), a quiet and comfortable town with a rich historical past, is located 30 km west of Yerevan, in the vast Ararat valley, the largest hearth of Christian culture on the territory of Armenia. Each year thousands of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world flock to the city to see the ancient monastery complex with the residence of the Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church built around the temple of amazing beauty and grace, the Ejmiatsin Cathedral. The history says that in the past centuries on the place of the most worshiped temple of Armenia there was a pagan temple. In the 4th century A.D. a cathedral was erected there and in time it was enriched with economic, residential and religious constructions. The resulting monastic complex attracted the attention of the Catholicos of all Armenians, who wished to move his residence to its territory, where it is located to this day.
What to see in Echmiadzin Cathedral
The path to the Etchmiadzin Cathedral winds its way past skillfully carved wooden sculptures, cross-stones of various shapes and sizes and a holy spring with cool water where weary travelers can refresh themselves after a long journey. At the main entrance of the complex the road branches off: the left path leads to the printing house founded in 1772, the right one – to the cells of the monks and the central one – to the cathedral. Not far from the temple is the residence of the Catholicos with the “Gates of Trdat” – the only surviving part of the palace of the Armenian kings. Opposite it is the complex of churches of Surb Hripsime, Surb Gayane and Surb Shoghakat, built in honor of nuns martyred for their faith.
At first the Etchmiadzin Cathedral had a basilica shape, but in subsequent years its appearance underwent significant changes. Today it is a cross-domed temple with three altars: the central one is made of marble, and two side altars – the northern and the southern.
In earlier centuries, the walls of the cathedral were covered with colorful frescoes: the famous artists, father and son Hovnatanyan, painted the temple with scenes from Holy Scripture and images of 120 saints especially revered by the church. Unfortunately, a part of the murals has been lost.
In the 20th century, the temple was carefully restored: preserved fragments of wall paintings were renewed, the arches and columns were reinforced, and the massive temple dome was covered with a layer of lead.
There are buildings adjoined to the temple, which are used as museum exhibits: paintings by famous artists of 20th century (Saryan, Kochar, Khanjian), vestments embroidered in gold and silver, staffs decorated with precious stones, crosses, church utensils, ivory Catholicoi chairs and valuable items donated by the hierarchs of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Practical information about Echmiadzin Cathedral
You can reach Echmiadzin Cathedral from Yerevan by cab, shuttle bus (Vagharshapat Central stop), sightseeing bus or rented car (GPS coordinates: 40.161821; 44.291035).
Hours: cathedral – daily from 07:00 to 20:00; museum – daily from 10:30 to 17:00.