Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin)


Etchmiadzin is located in the Armavir region. It is the biggest city in the region and a very special place for Armenians. The city is also known as Vagharshapat.

Etchmiadzin is the largest satellite of Yerevan and the 4th largest city in Armenia in its population. It is located in the east of Yerevan in the basin of Kasagh River. The city is very close to Zvartnots International Airport.

History of Etchmiadzin

Etchmiadzin is called a "holy city” as it is considered to be the country's "spiritual capital". Once it was one of the biggest cities of the country and the capital of ancient Greater Armenia. The territory of ancient Etchmiadzin has been settled since the 3rd millennium B.C.

The first written records about this city were found in the inscriptions left by the Urartian king Rusa II (685–645 BC), where the city was mentioned as Kuarlini. The inscription found in the archaeological site of ancient Etchmiadzin mentions a water canal opened by king Rusa II, between Hrazdan River and the valley of Kuarlini. In the first half of the 1st century AD, Vagharsh I was the king of Armenia (117–144) and the city was renamed Vagharshapat in honor of the king who, according to Movses Khorenatsi, rebuilt the city. 

Vagharshapat was the capital of the Armenian Kingdom between 120 - 330 AD. After adopting Christianity as a state religion of Armenia in 301, Vagharshapat was renamed Etchmiatsin after the name of the Mother Cathedral; the seat of the Armenian Catholicosate. Vagharshapat developed as an important centre of education and culture. The city was home to one of the oldest educational institutions in Armenia founded by Mesrop Mashtots.

Places of Interest in Etchmiadzin

Etchmiadzin has 5 churches; Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. Saint Hripsime, Saint Gayane, Saint Shoghakat, and Saint Virgin Mariam. The most important center of the Armenian Apostolic Church is the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. This temple was built at the beginning of the 4th century, just after Christianity was adopted as a state religion.

It was built by the first patriarch Saint Gregory the Illuminator. They say Saint Gregory had a dream in which Jesus descended from Heaven and showed the place where the church should be built. This is a real magical place to be visited by all means when you are in Armenia. 

The next marvelous building to be seen is the St. Gayane domed basilica-type church. It is a beautiful piece of art that reveals the style of Armenian architecture. Another astonishing church in Etchmiadzin is St Hripsime Church. It is included in the UNESCO world heritage list together with the Mother Cathedral.The church was founded in 618 by Komitas Aghetsi, in the place where Saint Hripsime was buried. The tomb of Saint Hripsime is under the church. This is a real treasure of Armenian architecture. It has a simple but meantime fascinating look. 

Zvartnots Cathedral is located at the edge of the city of Vagharshapat. It is a 7th century ruined church. It has a unique circular construction. The ruins of Zvartnots remained buried until the twentieth century. The site was excavated between 1901 and 1907 and the foundations of the cathedral as well as the remains of the Catholicos palace and a winery were uncovered.

Etchmiadzin is also home to many galleries and museums. For instance, if you want to know the history of the city you can visit Vagharshapat Ethnographic Museum. Other important museums of Etchmiadzin are Etchmiadzin Cathedral Museum, Khrimian Museum, Alex and Marie Manoogian Treasury Museum (home to treasures of the Armenian Church throughout history), Ruben Sevak Museum and many others. Some of the museum buildings are of great architectural significance.

The Komitas Palace of Culture has been working since 1957, and The Ejmiatsin National Gallery was opened in 1970. 

Thus if you’re in Armenia, you should go and visit this lovely city. It doesn’t take too much time to reach there. So don’t miss the opportunity of visiting Etchmiadzin’s historical places and see all these cultural treasures.



The most important center of Armenian Apostolic Church is The Mother Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin.This temple was built in the beginning of 4th century, just after Christianity was adopted as a state religion.

Read More