I agree this is quite a claim to make. But before you shoot me down allow me a moment to make my point. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity nationally in AD 301. Through to today, 95% of Armenians have kept their faith. Surely, then, this witnesses to ancient churches lovingly preserved. However, I agree the beauty stakes should depend on what we see, with our eyes, today. Let’s pay a flying visit to Armenian Christian churches and see what we can find.
Oldest Armenian Christian Churches
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral, Mother Church of Armenia
Construction of the original Etchmiadzin Cathedral began in AD 301, and completed two years later. The world’s oldest cathedral suffered earthquake damage in AD 483, and went through various embellishments. Yet we can still still see many original details. I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Truly, I think the way the cupolas lift my eyes towards the heavens is a wonderful architectural algorithm. So what is up next? Have they built any new Armenian Christian Churches lately?
Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator
The Armenians consecrated their largest place of worship in the country in AD 2001. This was 1,700 years after they dug the foundations for their Mother Church. This was a matter of great national significance for the choice of St Gregory was historic. The saint baptised the pagan King Tridates III who declared Christianity the official faith. I personally find the way the Cathedral of Saint Gregory contains so many details from the Mother Church compelling. Thus I believe these small details are what make travel matter most.
The Khor Virap Armenian Monastery
If the joy of travel lies in the details we encounter, then friendly greetings we receive from strangers make the difference. I do not suppose this tiny church could accommodate more then 20 monks. Compared to the 1,700 congregants in the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. The Armenians built their church in the shadow of Mount Arafat in AD 642. They believed this was where Saint Gregory spent 14 years in prison, before he freed his country.