The Etchmiadzin Cathedral


Song by Isabel Bayrakdarian, soprano 15 (click here) You are the Only Holy One

Historically, the focal point of the city is the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the oldest church in the world. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator as a vaulted Basilica in 301-303, when Armenia was the only country in the world the state religion of which was Christianity.

According to the 5th-century Armenian annals, St. Gregory had a vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built. Hence, the patriarch gave the church and the city the new name of Echmiadzin, which may be translated as “the place where the Only Begotten descended”.

In 480, Vahan Mamikonian, the Roman governor of Armenia, ordered the dilapidated basilica to be replaced with a new cruciform church.

In 618, the wooden dome was replaced with a stone one, resting on four massive pillars linked to exterior walls by arcades. This was the church much as it is today.

Murals in the interior and extravagant rotundas surmounting the apses appeared in the early 18th century. A three-tier belfry was constructed half a century earlier.

The cathedral formerly boasted the largest collection of Armenian language medieval manuscripts, but these were lately handed over to the Matenadaran. Matenadaran is an ancient manuscript repository located in Yerevan, Armenia. It holds one of the world’s richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books which span a broad range subjects, including history, philosophy, medicine, literature, art history and cosmography in Armenian and many other languages.

Immediately west of the cathedral is the Gate of St. Tiridates, leading to the imposing patriarchal palace. To the northeast, with buildings both within and outside the enclosure, is the Spiritual Academy. Several Khachkars are north of the cathedral. Khachkars (pronounced pronounced [χɑtʃkɑɹ] meaning cross-stone) is a cross-bearing carved memorial stele covered with rosettes and botanical motifs characteristic of Armenian art and found in Armenia.

The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Site

The photos on this page are taken by my daughter, Maral T. Najjarian, when she visited Armenia in 2007.

(Excerpt from Wikipedia)

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~ by Houry on January 3, 2010.

One Response to “The Etchmiadzin Cathedral”

  1. Very well done keep up the Artistic work ;D

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