Zvartnots Cathedral


icon-mapVagharshapat, Republic of Armenia


Zvartnots cathedral is located in the Ararat valley, 3 km south of the city Echmiadzin. This historical site once was a famous worshiping center in the pre-Christian period. During the excavation, there were discovered the basis of the Urartian cathedral, sacrificial altar, the cuneiform inscription written by Urartian king Rusa 2nd which mentioned about the construction of a canal which was built from the river Hrazdan.

The ancient pagan temple was dedicated to the God Tir who was a God of written language and schooling. After adopting the Christianity the pagan center was turned into the Urartian building. And in 5-6th centuries, was built single-naved basilica. The Christian temple was built Nerses Tayetsi Catholicos during 641-661. The historian According to the Movses Kaghankatvatsi the church was consecrated in 652.

According to the Historian Sebeos, the name of the cathedral came from the Armenian word "Zvartun" which means the heavenly soldier, thus the word means a group of the angels. The crowd of Heavenly Soldiers appeared in a dream of Gregory Enlightener. The other historians mentioned the cathedral as the Saint Grigor. Sebeos mentioned in his recordings that in this church regularly met Armenian King Trdat and Gregory. But the most interesting fact is that there are no historical recordings of the Zvartnots's destruction.

Zvartnots Cathedral was built in 643-652 by Nerses Tayetsi Catholicos. The whole temple was flooded with light and when the sunlight was coming in through 80 arch and 32 round windows creating an impression of angels.But it stood until the end of the 10th century. In the beginning of the 20th century, the ruined church was underground until the excavations of Khachik Dadyan in 1901.

During the excavations were found monuments dating back to a 4-5th century and the inscription of Rusa 2nd, cells, and bathing rooms. From the cathedral remained the ground, half-columns and their decorated heads, solar watch, frescoes and other remainings. For building the church were used different Tufa stone's types and shades. The cathedral constructed in the center of 7th-step pedestal and has a unique circular design. In 1989 the cathedral was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Later the remains o Gregory were buried in the same place of the church and has got the name of Saint Grigor.

The cathedral of Zvartnots was a unique architectural building and one of the highest buildings in its period (45-49m). The other buildings of this period had cross-domed structure or basilica but this wonder presented totally new style in the Armenian architecture. The central dome leaned on the columns shaping one round. In spite of its ruined look; this historical site remains the favorite place for tourists.

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