The Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts also known as Matenadaran is a depository of ancient manuscripts and has one of the biggest collections of the manuscripts in Armenia. It was founded in 1959 and located in Yerevan.
The word Matenadaran means a repository for manuscripts.
The repository contains more than 17000 manuscripts, 450 thousand documents, and 3000 ancient books. The oldest manuscript is the “ Vehamor Avetaran” which was kept from the 8th century. Here you will see the biggest Armenian book “ Msho Charyntir” (weights 28 kg) and the smallest book (190g).
Matenadaran is not only a gallery; It is also a famous research and cultural center. Therefore, if you want to know more about the Armenian language and manuscripts, this is the only place where you can get all the information.
The building of Matenadaran has a cube shape and was built by grey-blue basalt stone. It has neo-Armenian style and was designed by Mark Grigorian. The monumental stairs lead to Mesrop Mashtots and Koryun’s statues.
On the facade of the entrance is decorated with Toros Roslin, Grigor Tatevatsi, Anania Shirakatsi, Movses Khorenatsi, Mkhitar Gosh and Frik statues. On the entrance is written the first translated Armenian sentence- “ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ” which means “know wisdom and precept, know the words of the genius”. Both sides of Matenadaran are decorated with Khachkars.
The Armenian architects planned to build a new building of Matenadaran in 1987 but unfortunately, the plans failed because of the terrible earthquake of Spitak. In the result, the construction of the new building started on May 14, 2009. The architect is Arthur Meschian, the construction lasted two years and the building was officially opened on September 20, 2011. It is located in the northern part of Mashtots Ave.
The Armenian manuscripts are rich with beautiful and colorful miniatures; the colors are bright as if they were done lately. The miniature artist used an only natural color, that’s why the manuscripts remained fresh. For instance, they got red color from small red insect (Vordan Karmir).