Zvartnots Cathedral (Զուարթնոց տաճար)
iterally ‘celestial angels cathedral’) is a 7th-century centrally planned aisled tetraconch type Armenian cathedral built by the order of Catholicos Nerses the Builder from 643-652. Now in ruins, it is located at the edge of the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin)
Zvartnots was built at a time when much of Armenia had just recently been conquered by the Muslim Arabs who were progressively occupying the Sasanian Persia/Iran of which Armenia was a part at the time. Construction of the cathedral began in 643 under the guidance of Catholicos Nerses III (nicknamed Shinogh or the Builder). Dedicated to St. Gregory, it was located at the place where a meeting between King Trdat III and Gregory the Illuminator was supposed to have taken place. According to the medieval Armenian historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi, the cathedral was consecrated in 652. From 653 to 659, Nerses was in Tayk and the construction of the cathedral continued under Anastas Akoratsi. Following the Arab occupation of Dvin and the intensifying wars between the Byzantine and Arab armies on the former’s eastern borders, Nerses transferred the patriarchal palace of the Catholicos from Dvin to Zvartnots.
The exterior church design, featuring basket capitals with Ionic volute mounts, eagle capitals, and vine scroll friezes reveals the influence of Syrian and northern Mesopotamian architecture.
Zvartnots stood for 320 years before its collapse in the 10th century; by the time the historian Stepanos Taronatsi wrote of the church it was already in ruins, without giving a reason. How it collapsed is still debated, though most argues for one of two theories; earthquake, or as a result of Arab raids.
The most common explanation is earthquake, though the building was well engineered and designed to last 1,000 years (a projected date for the second coming of Christ). Excavations have uncovered traces of large fires at the site, perhaps of an earlier attempt to destroy the church, though the construction also included firing of obsidian and lime mortar to form the mortar joints (firing it into brick) and the 1893 excavation used fire and explosives to clear debris. A close copy of the cathedral was erected at Ani out by Trdat the Architect under the reign of Gagik I Bagratuni during the final decade of the tenth century. The contemporary Armenian historian Stepanos Taronetsi referred to Zvartnots when describing the church that Gagik I had inaugurated as „a large structure at Vałaršapat [Vagharshapat], dedicated to the same saint that had fallen into ruins
The remaining ruins of Zvartnots were uncovered at the beginning of the twentieth century. The site was excavated between 1901 and 1907 under the direction of vardapet Khachik Dadian, who uncovered the foundations of the cathedral as well as the remains of the Catholicos palace and a winery. The excavations furthermore revealed that Zvartnots stood on the remnants of structures that dated back to the reign of Urartian king Rusa
Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Crkva presvete Bogorodice) is the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, located in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin) about 18 km west of Yerevan, and 10 km north of the closed Turkish-Armenian border. It is commonly known as Ejmiatsin, which was its official name between 1945 and 1995. 2 km od Etchmiadzin: Zvartnots (1300 AMD – 2,5 €) nekada važna bazilika po čijem je uzoru zidana Aja Sofija.
Etchmiadzin Cathedral[C] (Armenian: Էջմիածնի մայր տաճար, Ēǰmiatsni mayr tačar) is the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, located in the city of Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), Armenia.[D] According to most scholars it was the first cathedral built in ancient Armenia,[E] and is often considered the oldest cathedral in the world.[F]
The original church was built in the early fourth century—between 301 and 303 according to tradition—by Armenia’s patron saint Gregory the Illuminator, following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by King Tiridates III. It was built over a pagan temple, symbolizing the conversion from paganism to Christianity. The core of the current building was built in 483/4 by Vahan Mamikonian after the cathedral was severely damaged in a Persian invasion. From its foundation until the second half of the fifth century, Etchmiadzin was the seat of the Catholicos, the supreme head of the Armenian Church.
Although never losing its significance, the cathedral subsequently suffered centuries of virtual neglect. In 1441 it was restored as catholicosate and remains as such to this day. Since then the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin has been the administrative headquarters of the Armenian Church. Etchmiadzin was plundered by Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1604, when relics and stones were taken out of the cathedral to New Julfa in an effort to undermine Armenians’ attachment to their land. Since then the cathedral has undergone a number of renovations. Belfries were added in the latter half of the seventeenth century and in 1868 a sacristy was constructed at the cathedral’s east end. Today, it incorporates styles of different periods of Armenian architecture. Diminished during the early Soviet period, Etchmiadzin revived again in the second half of the twentieth century, and under independent Armenia.
As the main shrine of Armenian Christians worldwide, Etchmiadzin has been an important location in Armenia not only religiously, but also politically and culturally. A major pilgrimage site, it is one of the most visited places in the country. Along with several important early medieval churches located nearby, the cathedral was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.