Armenian Christian Churches: World’s Oldest

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.

Armenia, Site Marking the Prison of St Gregory,Armenian Christian Churches
Site Marking the Prison of St Gregory: Reflected Serendipity / CC BY-SA 2.0

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?

Etchmiadzin Cathedral. Armenian Christian Churches
Etchmiadzin Cathedral: Areg Amirkhanian / CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

 Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Armenian Christian Churches
Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator: Elena Buntik / CC BY 2.0

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.

The Khor Virap Armenian Monastery: Diego Delso / CC BY-SA 4.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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4 Responses

  1. Places that make trip to Armenia a lifetime experience | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] the country and is filled with architectural beauty in every corner. The city is associated with centuries-old history. Based on the inscriptions of Uratian King Arghisti, Yerevan was built back in 782 BC. The city is […]

  2. Five reasons to visit Armenia's monasteries | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] have to climb 243 steps, but the sight that awaits you as you reach the top is breathtaking. The monastery church is a delight, its graveyard full of khachkars, the standing stones that you’ll see all over […]

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    You should include Shikahogh State Reserve in this list, it is an amazing place to visit.


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