Mesrop Mashtots Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, also known as Matenadaran, is a depository of ancient manuscripts and possesses the biggest collection of Armenian manuscripts in the world. It was founded in 1959 and is located in Yerevan.
The word Matenadaran means a repository for manuscripts. It contains more than 17000 manuscripts, 450 thousand documents, and 3000 ancient books. The oldest manuscript is the “ Vehamor Avetaran” which dates back to the 7th century. Here you will see the biggest Armenian book “Msho Charyntir” (28 kg) and the smallest one weighing 190gr.
Matenadaran is not only a gallery; it is also famous research and cultural centre. Therefore, if you want to know more about the Armenian language and manuscripts, this is the right place to get all the information.
The building of Matenadaran has a shape of a cube and is built of grey basalt stone. It has neo-Armenian style and was designed by Mark Grigorian. The monumental stairs lead to the statues of Mesrop Mashtots and Koryun. On the wall behind the statue the first Armenian translated sentence “ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ” which means “To recognise wisdom and guidance; to know the words of the genius” is engraved.
The statues of Armenian scholars Toros Roslin, Grigor Tatevatsi, Anania Shirakatsi, Movses Khorenatsi, Mkhitar Gosh and Frik are located at the facade wall on the left and right sides of the entrance. There is also an open-air exhibition near the entrance, where Khachkars are on display.
The Armenian architects planned to build the new building of Matenadaran in 1987 but unfortunately, the plans failed because of the terrible earthquake of Spitak. The construction of the new building started on May 14, 2009, and lasted two years. The architect is Arthur Meschian. 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).