This is the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians (303-484, 1441-present).
This is the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians (303-484, 1441-present). It was founded in 302-303 upon Christianity being proclaimed the state religion in Armenia in 301, according to a vision by St. Gregory the Illuminator of Christ striking the earth with a golden hammer indicating the site for the cathedral.
The mediaeval historian Ghazar Parpetsi wrote that the cathedral was extensively renovated in 483–484 by Prince Vahan Mamikonian. Later in the 7th century it was reconstructed by Catholicos Komitas I of Aghtzik and Nerses III of Tayk.
The belfry and the museum were added in the 17th and 19th cc. respectively. The three-tier columned belfry influenced similar Armenian churches in the 17th-18th cc.
The cathedral is a domed cruciform with four apses and four pylons set in the central square. On the western, southern and northern sides of the rectangular annex there are apses, semi-circular on the inside and pentagonal on the outside. On both sides of the cathedral's eastern high altar there are annexes with a rectangular ground floor plan.
The cathedral's central-dome cruciform layout with four apses is considered Armenia's greatest contribution to Christian architecture.
The interior boasts unique wall paintings. Commissioned by Catholicos Astvatsatur I Hamadantsi in 1720, the gilded paintings on the dome, the high altar and the vaults are attributed to the famous singer and artist Naghash Hovnatan. Hovnatan Hovnatanian continued the works in 1786 during the reign of Catholicos Ghukas I Karnetsi.
The complex includes a number of valuable structures, among them are “T'rdatadur” (Gate of King T'rdat), “Ghazarapat”, the old and new pontifical residences (otherwise referred to as Veharan), the seminary, the monastic residence building known as Yeremian cells, among others.
In 2000 the cathedral was listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites with the name “Cathedral and Churches of Etchmiadzin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots”.
Ticket price Locals: 500 AMD; Foreigners: 1500 AMD
How to reach From Yerevan take M5 highway and drive 21.4 km to north west and you will reach the Etchmiadzin. The trip will take approximately 25 minutes.