Mother See of Holy Etchmiatsin

Yerevan - Etchmiadzin - 21 km
Travel time - 24 min

Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church and the Pontifical Residence of the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin found in the city of Vagharshapat, Armenia is a blend of the past, present and future of the worldwide Armenian Church and contains the Mother Cathedral, monuments, museums, libraries and the pontifical residence and other monastic residences. It was built earlier in the 4th century, during the days of Gregory the Illuminator and King Tiridates III in the place where -according to Armenian Church traditions- the Descent of Christ happened in Vagharshapat, Armenia, also known as Etchmiadzin. The wooden church was rebuilt in stone in the 5th and 7th centuries. The bell tower was built in 1653 and the vestry in 1869.
The complex includes the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, the vestry, residences, museums, Gevorkian Theological Seminary, V. and T. Manoukyan Library and many other amenities.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral: was built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the oldest church built by a state in the world. According to the 5th-century Armenian annals, Saint 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 Sassanian 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. Between 1654-1658, the main three-tier belfry at the entrance of the Cathedral was erected.