Zvartnots Temple (Armenia) – description, history, location. Exact address and website. Tourist reviews, photos and videos.
In the early 20th century a group of researchers discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, buried up to the roof under a layer of earth and sand. Having excavated the structure and reconstructed its original appearance, scientists came to the conclusion that previously one of the most beautiful and large-scale religious buildings of early medieval Armenia, Zvartnots Temple, also known as the “Temple of the Watching Angels”, was located on the site of the hill. Erected at the suggestion of Catholicos Nerses III, the building laid the foundation for a new architectural direction, which caused a broad resonance in the international community. The opening of the temple was attended by many influential persons, including the Byzantine emperor Constantine II, who wanted to build a similar structure in the capital of the empire – Constantinople. Unfortunately, the temple stood only 300 years: the supports of the building cracked during the earthquake, and the multi-ton construction collapsed like a house of cards. The elements did not spare the nearby palace of the Catholicos and the household outbuildings.
Following the stunning find, archaeologists decided to reconstruct the temple. The first tier of the building, which housed the archaeological museum, was fully restored, and the reconstruction of the remaining tiers of the building is planned in the near future.
What to see at Zvartnots Temple
In earlier centuries the temple was a three-tiered building of silver and black volcanic tuff, about 49 m high and with a circular base with a diameter of 35.75 m. A cross of 6 columns arranged in a semicircle was inscribed in the base. The eastern part of the first tier was occupied by an apse decorated with frescos and mosaics. Opposite the altar, in the very center of the temple, there was a round basin – baptismal font with a staircase where the sacrament of baptism was performed. Behind the altar there was a passage to the underground sacristy.
The temple was through, as if woven of light and air. The openwork weaving of windows, fine geometric ornamentation, grape bunches, pomegranate fruits, palm leaves and human figures carved on the walls created a special atmosphere of ease, naturalness and unpretentiousness in the room.
The ruins of the palace of Nerses III and the ancient winery can be seen not far from the temple. The castle of the Catholicos consisted of two parts: the western part was used for living quarters, halls for receiving guests and meetings, the eastern part was used for service rooms. The winery’s territory is nowadays covered with ceramic vessels of various volumes, designed for keeping wine – a kind of an open-air museum.
Practical information about Zvartnots Temple
The temple is located near Zvartnots airport. The easiest way to reach it is by rented car (M5 highway, coordinates: 40.160125; 44.336339) or by cab (average cost – 10,000-15,000 AMD). Another option is to take a bus to Vagharshapat (distance from Yerevan – 25 km, you have to get off a bit earlier), but they go only in the morning and evening.
Working hours of the museum: morning-Saturday 10:00-17:30, Sunday 10:00-15:00, Monday- day off. Admission is free. Prices on the page are for May 2023.