Yereruyk Basilica


icon-mapAnipemza 2903, Republic of Armenia

Yereruyk is an ancient Armenian Church located near Anipemza village (Shirak Region) on the left bank of the Akhurian river. Yererouk is a three-nave Basilica, which was built in the 4th-5th centuries on the site of a pagan altar. The temple was built of light orange tufa stone and stood on 6 pillars. Nowadays, the church is half-ruined.

The word "Yereruyk" is derived from the Armenian word "yereral - երերալ" which means 'to quiver'. They say that the church got its name because it was built on six columns and the structure seemed quivering from distance. The "quivering" building of the church was one of the valuable examples of the history of Armenian architecture. The experts think that it was the biggest church in Medieval Armenia. 

The church is a huge basilica with exterior arched halls and stepped platforms from all sides. The cathedral was once surrounded by walls. Passages wove underground, leading to large chambers with skylights letting the sun flood to the levels below. 

Yereruyk is an early Christian building that includes traditions of antique architecture. The church was built in the 5th century, supposedly on the site of a pagan temple. The most interesting and at the same time strange thing about this church is that the historians never mentioned or wrote anything about it

One of the few inscriptions about this mysterious building is a record kept on the left side of one of the entrances. The record mentions the wife of one of the Bagratid kings who made donations for the renovations of the temple. 

As mentioned above, the building stands on a stepped pedestal with 5-7 steps surrounding the buildings. Above the steps are three entrances leading into the pillared halls. The building has two entrances from the south and one entrance from the west, which leads into the main hall. The steps of the pedestal were built of big stones, which are now half-ruined. The pillared halls are also ruined and without roofs. 

During the excavations in 2011, a phenomenon unique to early Christian Armenia was observed։ a large grave-field with 7-8 pedestals. The chronological and functional relationship between the grave field and the basilica is unknown. The strange thing is that numerous newborn babies were found buried in the field. 

The archaeologists believe that it is connected either to some unknown disease or to the fact that the cathedral was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and people buried unbaptized children at the church to save their souls. 

There is a Greek inscription carved on the southern wall of the cathedral. The inscription is quoted from a psalm "Holiness becometh thine house, o Lord, forever."

In 1995 Yereruyk was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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