- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
There was no way you could be anything but impressed by the beauty and history of Etchmiadzine Cathedral, whch we were looking at. It was originally built in the 3rd century C.E. and then rebuilt in the 4th century as the church you can see today which makes it quite simply the oldest cathedral in the world. It has been destroyed and restored over the centuries until being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.
Etchmiadzine Cathedral is an absolute must-see during a trip to Armenia. First because of its architectural beauty, but also because of how important it is in Armenian culture, especially their religious culture. I remember a large, excited crowd arriving on pilgrimage at this very holy place.
The Armenian Apostolic Church is a branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Saint Etchmiadzin Cathedral is its most important site. It takes up a large part of the town and is open to visitors. Architecture fans will love it. Women should remember to cover their hair before entering the church. If you have the time, the monastery museum is well worth a visit and you'll learn a lot about the country's religious culture.
I met a group of young people who offered to give me a guided tour of the town. The Armenians, whatever their age, are proud of their culture and happy to share it with foreigners. Suffice to say I had a great time in their company.
I took the time to explore the entire monastery complex, which was not only refreshing but also gave me the chance to learn about a new religious culture.
To round off your day, I suggest you head to the market and sample some local specialities. 'Kufle', a delicious meatball dish, is an Etchmiadzin favourite that you should try!
Etchmiadzin is one place that won't leave anyone indifferent. As you wander around the complex here, which consists of monasteries, chapels and various other holy places, you often encounter the unexpected. When I visited, for example, I came across a group of young people from the seminary practising a polyphonic mass. I also found myself in the middle of a baptism at one point, and my presence didn't seem to bother anyone. What tends to surprise the foreign visitor is that Etchmiadzin Cathedral is actually a living place, in daily use by the local community. Couples go for walks in the grounds; students come to work in the shade of the trees; and families meet up here for special occasions. In short, I came to see a building classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and ended up observing all kinds of scenes of daily life, each just as real and authentic as the next.
Recounting these anecdotes is not to ignore the beauty of the cathedral itself however: the building is replete with architectural details characteristic of Armenian religious architecture and dating from various periods. As you've no doubt already gathered, Etchmiadzin is quite definitely one of the essential places to visit during your trip to Armenia.