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Khor Virap

The history of Khor Virap directly is connected with the history of Christianity adoption in Armenia. It is one of the main holy places of Armenians. The monastery of Khor Virap is located in Ararat Marz (region) of the RA, near the village of Pokr Vedi (Small Vedi). Khor Virap is located in the territory of the former Armenian capital Artashat. This is a deep pit, which was one of the royal prisons where the criminals sentenced to death were thrown. Grigor Lusavorich (Gregory the Illuminator), on charges of preaching Christianity in Armenia, was thrown there on the order of the King Tiridates III. He spent there 14 years and eventually came out and spread Christianity in Armenia. But the narration about Khor Virap comes even more ancient times.

According to the legend, the dragon had stolen Astghik (the goddess of love and beauty in ancient Armenian mythology), hid her in the pit of Khor Virap and covered the pit with leather of 40 buffalos and with stones of 40 water mills. Vahagn (the god of war in ancient Armenian mythology), who was the beloved of Asthik, grappled with the dragon on the field of Khor Virap. He conquered the dragon, smashed the stones by the strike of his sword-lightning and liberated the goddess Astghik.

In its present form the monastic complex of Khor Virap was built in the 17th century. At one time, there was a pagan temple dedicated to either the goddess Anahit or the goddess Astghik (ancient Armenian mythology). A small basilica church was erected there in the 5th century. In 642, the Catholicos (Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Gregorian Church) Nerses III built the Church of St. Gevorg on the pit (Virap), which was in the style of Zvartnots - with 8 columns and circular-shaped. Later it was destroyed, and in 1662, there was built a vaulted chapel in its place, which stands to these days. The main church of the monastery is the church of St. Astvatsatsin (Holly Mother), which was built in the 13th century. At one time, it was also a famous center of education, science and writing of annals. In the 13th century, a University functioned in Khor Virap, where many famous Armenian medieval scholars taught.

The fences of the monastery were built in the second half of the 17th century, and the monastery was renovated. The church of St. Gregory was built in 1669. And the bell-tower was built at the end of the 19th century.