The most important and beautiful religious sites in Armenia

As the first country to adopt Christianity, Armenia is full of beautiful churches. The Armenian church has always been a central part of our history. Most of the churches were built in medieval times. Though some of them were damaged because of wars and earthquakes, they have been rebuilt as per their original plan. Here are some of the most interesting and beautiful religious sites in Armenia.

Khor Virap monastery is from the 7th century. It is close to the border with Turkey, and it is one of the best places to see Mount Ararat. On clear days the view is stunning. It is an important historical and religious monastery. It is the birthplace of Christianity in Armenia. It is the place where Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned in a pit by the king Tiridates the Third for spreading Christianity. He was freed later to cure the king of an illness. After miraculously recovering the king became Christian. And in 301 Armenia was declared a Christian country. Today, you can go down and see the pit where Gregory was imprisoned. 

Noravank is a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are three churches at Noravank: St. Karapet Church, Surb Astvatsatsin Church, and St. Stepanos church. It also has unique and beautiful Khachkars, one of which was carved by famous artist Momik in the 14th century. Surb Astvatsatsin Church is a two-story church, and you have to climb a very narrow external staircase. However, it’s worth it as the view from the top is wonderful. The church was built in one the most beautiful places in Armenia, upon a cliffside, surrounded by tall rock walls.

The monuments in Geghard were built in the 4-13th centuries. The monastery of Geghard is one of the most beautiful and impressive monuments in Armenia as it is carved from the side of the mountain. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The name “Geghard” means “spear”. It is believed that the spear, which wounded Jesus during the Crucifixion, was brought to Armenia and stored at this church. It is also said that the church was founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator himself.

Tatev monastery was built in the 9th century on the edge of a deep gorge. At one point, it has also been a university and an important economic, cultural, and religious center. The view from the church is spectacular. To get there, you’ll have to ride on the world’s longest reversible cable car (5.7 km). The name “Tatev” means “give wings”, and it is a popular girl’s name in Armenia. 

Odzun Church is one of the oldest churches in Armenia which was built from the 5th to 7th centuries. Both the church and the surrounding mountains are very beautiful and charming. You can see scenes from the Bible carved on the east and west sides of the monument. There are many gravestones around the church. You can also see here one of two funerary monuments in Armenia. 

Etchmiadzin is one of the most important cathedrals in Armenia and is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2000. It is considered to be one of the oldest cathedrals in the whole world. Etchmiadzin is the headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and it is also called the “Vatican of Armenia”. The construction started at beginning of the 4th century by king Tiridates the Third. There is also a museum where you can see the most important artifacts of the Armenian Apostolic Church on display. 

Hayravank is a less-known monastery built in the 9th century. It is located along the southwest shore of Lake Sevan. The name “Hayravank” means “Father’s monastery”. Near the church, there are also numerous khachkars and gravestones.

Haghartsin was built in the 10-13th centuries. It is located in the Dilijan National Park. The forest mountains surrounding the church make the view magical and stunning. The name translates into “playing or soaring eagles”. You can also see the images of the birds on the walls of the church. 

Holy Savior’s Church in Gyumri is one of the relatively new churches in Armenia. It was built in the 19th century by a famous architect Tadeos Andikyan. During the Soviet times, the church building was turned into a museum, and later into a classical music concerts hall. The church was severely damaged during the tragic earthquake in 1988. It went through an entire renovation process in 2002.

The monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin are two of the most famous monasteries in Armenia. Both of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Haghpat is a complex with beautiful churches and chapels located on the edge of a massive mountain. Haghpat is an example of Byzantine architecture from the 10th century. Both Haghpat and Sanahin have been important religious and educational centers.



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