Ejmiadzin (Etchmiadzin) is about 18 km away from the capital Yerevan. It’s the fourth biggest city of Armenia. This place is famous because here are located Ejmiadzin Cathedral, Mother See of Holy Ejmiadzin, as well as other old churches. The name means “the place where the Only Begotten descended”. Being the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the city is visited by many tourists. It is full of people, especially on religious holidays.
According to scholars, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin was the first cathedral built in ancient Armenia, between 301 and 303 AD. In 2000 the Cathedral was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Near the church are located the tombs of all the previous Armenian Catholicoses (head of Armenian Apostolic Church). On religious holidays, tourists, citizens of Armenia and representatives of the Government alike come to receive a blessing from the Catholicos, and to participate to the celebration.
The fifth-century Armenian historian Agathangelos tells that the young and beautiful Hripsime who was a Christian nun in Rome was forced to marry the Roman emperor Diocletian. She and the abbess Gayane among other nuns fled the tyrant emperor and went to Armenia. The pagan Armenian King Trdat received a letter from Diocletian in which he described her beauty. Trdat managed to find out where the nuns were hiding, and fell in love with Hripsime and later with Gayane. After her refusal, Hripsime was tortured and martyred at the place where the church Saint Hripsime is. Gayane was tortured and martyred in another place where the church named after her was built later in 630. The remaining groups of thirty-eight nuns were martyred at the place where the Shoghakat church stands. All these churches are in Ejmiadzin.
The church was built atop the original mausoleum that was built by the Catholicos Sahak the Great in 395 AD. The church is dedicated to Saint Hripsime. It is considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The whole construction was completed in 618 AD. As mentioned above, it’s named after Saint Hripsime who was martyred during the time of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in 301 AD. The church is very nice and impressive.
Saint Gayane is another nice church built in the 7th century. The church was built by the Catholicos Ezra I. This church is also registered in the UNESCO world heritage list since 2000. It is constructed in a typical Armenian style like all the other churches. The surrounding area is calm and nice.
Saint Shoghakat church was built in 1694 at the place of an old 6th-century church that did not survive until our days. This church is also on the UNESCO world heritage site list. It’s at the place where the group of unknown nuns martyred during the time of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity in the year 301 AD. The name translated means "drop of light" because of the ray of light that came down from heaven upon Hripsimé's martyrs.
The Holy Ejmiadzin- the place where the Only Begotten descended, is a must see place in Armenia. On the way you can also stop by the Zvartnots cathedral that is another site much liked by travelers.
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.