The Architecture of Churches


The Armenian Highland is rich with a stone; that is why the uniqueness of national Armenian Architecture is considered to be the diversity of Armenian stones, especially tufa, also its unique in its exceptional diversity, the artistic and mechanical features. In Armenian Highland, the architecture was founded in Stone Age. In the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, the Monumental Architecture was developed in Armenia. Already in the 1st- 3rd millenniums the Armenians were built residential and defensive, cyclopean buildings. 

Adopting Christianity opened a new page in Armenian Architecture. The Armenians started to create new types of building. According to the historians, Gregory Enlightener destroyed all the pagan temples and built Christian churches on the bases of temples.  In the result, the churches of that century are mainly single-nave halls.

At the end of 4th century, in the churches appeared in rooms next to altar (it was for the priests). It appeared after the new rules of Sahak Partev, who ordered the priests to live in churches only in summers.   Since in the 6th century in Armenian Architecture appeared domed churches and buildings. One of the ancient domed churches is the cathedral of Ejmiatsin (301-303). Later Armenian architects created a new type of domed churches with a domed hall.

 In early medieval Armenian architecture reflected the influence of Syrian Architecture and in Armenia appeared three-naved Basilica buildings (Yereruyk). The ancient temple of Yereruyk had 6 pillars, and people who looked from the distant way, it seemed to them that the temple was quivering.  There is a gate around the church and other buildings, even hidden rooms. The biggest achievement of Armenian Architecture is the Zvartnots Cathedral (7th century). It had a unique structure and is considered to be the miracle of Armenian history of Architecture. The cathedral has round shape and cross-domed building.

Already in 9th -14th centuries Armenians started to build Matenadarans (repository), schools, inns, monastery complexes and courtyards. One of the most outstanding monasteries in Armenia is the Tatev Monastery which was built in the 9th century.

The Armenian architectural monuments Zvartnots, Geghard, Haghpat, Sanahin, and Noravanq were added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.