Historical and ancient sites are considered one of the main tourist attractions in various countries worldwide. If a country has rich historical resources, it will host thousands of tourists annually who wish to witness its history and civilization. One of the neighboring countries that possesses a rich history and is also regarded as an excellent destination for all kinds of trips is Armenia. This country houses a magnificent cathedral, the architecture of which is considered a marvel of the world. Therefore, in the following, we will examine one of the historical landmarks of this country, including the Zvartnots Cathedral, before purchasing tickets to Armenia and gathering information about it so that we can behold this awe-inspiring structure on our future trips to Armenia.
Introduction to the Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia
The ruins of the Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia are one of the country’s important historical and tourist attractions. It is located in the Ararat Plain (a mountain range between Armenia and Turkey), between the capital city of Yerevan and Etchmiadzin, in the Ararat Province of Armenia, near an airport with the same name (Zvartnots Airport). The cathedral was buried underground until the early 20th century, and its existence was unknown. Finally, between the years 1901 and 1907, a group led by Vardapet Khachik Dadyan started excavating and uncovered parts of this cathedral from under the ground. Additionally, next to this cathedral, a palace attributed to “Catholicos Nerses III” was discovered, which also housed his beverage factory.
There are many legends surrounding the name of the Zvartnots Cathedral. Some attribute its name to an angel, while others say that the title of this cathedral signifies “the resurrection of the dead.” Its title is also associated with other meanings, such as “guardian forces” and “heavenly angels.” In the 10th century AD, this cathedral was destroyed due to an earthquake and some other unknown reasons, and today, only the stone columns remain, from which one can discern the Armenian architecture and the magnificent structure of this cathedral.
History of the Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia
According to historians’ findings, the construction of this cathedral was ordered by Catholicos Nerses III in the 7th century AD. The construction of the cathedral began in 643 AD and was completed in 652 AD. This cathedral was one of the important and sacred places of worship for the people of that time, and it was considered a marvelous structure to the extent that when Constans II (the Byzantine Emperor) saw this cathedral, he was captivated by its splendor and magnificence and ordered a similar structure to be built in his realm (Constantinople).
The architect of the Zvartnots Cathedral, Grigor Lusavorich, set out for Constantinople to rebuild this structure, but he lost his life on the way due to illness, and another example of the Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia was never built.
Architecture of the Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia
From the remaining structure of the Zvartnots Cathedral, one can discern the skill and creativity of its architect, who incorporated elements from Byzantine and Syrian architectural styles into the Armenian style. The main design of this structure is circular, but it also features various facets within its interior. Beautiful and captivating sculptures and reliefs are carved on the stone columns of this cathedral. There are several noteworthy features in the architecture of the Zvartnots Cathedral, including the following:
In the main sanctuary of the Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia, the placement of idols can be observed. This has puzzled many researchers, and the reason for such placement in this cathedral has not been determined.
In the center of the Zvartnots Cathedral, beneath its dome, there is said to be a descending pathway believed to be the burial place of the cathedral’s architect. However, the accuracy of this claim remains ambiguous.
On the capitals of the stone columns of the Zvartnots Cathedral, there are inscriptions in Greek (instead of Armenian), and some of the columns feature designs of eagles with outstretched wings (some Greeks believed that eagles could bring the dead back to life). This is noteworthy as this architectural style was not common during the construction period of this cathedral.
Guide to Visiting Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia
Everything we have discussed so far has only been a part of the story of Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia. There are many more tales, discoveries, and information about this cathedral that can be explored if you see it in person and behold the sculptures and inscriptions on its stones with your own eyes. Therefore, we would like to tell you how you can visit this marvelous and enigmatic structure:
Zvartnots Cathedral is located near the town of Vagharshapat, approximately 15 kilometers from the capital city of Yerevan.
If you are on a tour to Armenia, it is likely that a visit to this site is included in your tour itinerary, and you don’t need to arrange the visit yourself.
If you are traveling independently, you can reach the cathedral by taking a bus or taxi.
At the Kilikia Bus Station in Yerevan, you can board bus number 67, which will take you to the cathedral’s vicinity after approximately 30 minutes. The bus will drop you off near the airport area, and from there, you can access the remaining structure of the cathedral on foot.
For the return journey, you can consider the same route you came from and return to the city.
Of course, it is easy to mention this route, but finding an address in a country with a different language can be challenging. Therefore, it is best to bring a guide who can accurately take you to the cathedral and back.
Cost of Visiting Zvartnots Cathedral in Armenia
Alongside visiting Zvartnots Cathedral, you can also see a nearby museum that houses some of the discoveries from the cathedral. Admission to the cathedral is not accessible for foreigners and costs around 700 Armenian Drams. Additionally, if you avail yourself of a tour and guide, you must pay 1000 Drams. Hiring a translator also costs 2000 Drams. Please note that these prices may increase each time due to inflation in our country’s currency. Therefore, make sure to check the cost of visiting the cathedral before going so that you have enough money with you. Finally, we kindly ask you to share your opinions and experiences about visiting this remarkable place.