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The Echmiadzin Cathedral

Echmiadzin Cathedral is the spiritual center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is located in the city of Vagharshapat of the Marz (region) of Armavir, 20 km far from Yerevan. The cathedral was built in the beginning of the IV century, immediately following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion, in the place of the temple of the pagan god Sandaramet (under the main altar preserved pagan heathen). At first, Echmiadzin Cathedral was of basilica style, but in 480 Armenian count, Vahan Mamikonyan rebuilt the cathedral in cruciform shape and built the dome on the four uprights. Echmiadzin Cathedral was the prototype for many European churches by its architectural decisions. In the 7th century, the cathedral was rebuilt by the Catholicoses (Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Gregorian Church) Komitas and Nerses III, in the 17th century the bell tower and in the 18th century the museum were built. There are a number of other religious buildings near the Cathedral. There are stored numerous material assets of the Armenian Church culture: manuscripts, crafts, ancient Armenian coins, collections of carpets, paintings and other valuable items. In the night loneliness, when Illuminator (Lusavorich) was busy with thoughts, he suddenly saw a vision: the only begotten Son of God came down from heaven, and hit the ground by the golden hammer, pointing the place where he was to build the Etchmiadzin Cathedral. St. Gregory the Illuminator (St. Grigor Lusavorich) and the King Tiridates led the people to the place of the descent of the only-begotten and built the Cathedral there. St. Echmiadzin is also called lighted with light, as it was built not by mortal architects, but was founded by the heavenly architect who lightening with his light, sketched the new church. According to the legend, during the construction of the cathedral building materials brought from Noah's ark by the King Tiridates were used. The construction of St. Echmiadzin Cathedral was completed in August of 303. The Cathedral was consecrated in the preceding Saturday of Feast of the Transfiguration of the Virgin Mary and the Cathedral was named St. Mariam Holly Mother (St. Mariam Astvatsatsin). The Cathedral was the spiritual and cultural center of world importance for centuries. Even in the 4th century there was founded the book depository-Matenadaran (depository of ancient manuscripts). In 1771, the Catholicos (Supreme Patriarch of the Armenian Gregorian Church) Simeon Yerevantsi founded here the first in Armenia and the Middle East typography and in 1860-70’s the Catholicos Gevorg IV founded the treasury and the Gevorgyan Academy. Since the 5th century, due to the current political situation, the Patriarchate of All Armenians passed from one place to another. And only since 1441 was restored in Echmiadzin and still is located in the same place till our days.