- Place or Religious Monument
- Archaeological Site
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
To visit to Etchmiadzin is to visit a series of churches considered to be the most important in the eyes of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Just like in Jerusalem or the Vatican, you find yourself immersed in a rich wealth of sacred art and extraordinary spirituality when you visit this place. But the Etchmiadzin site is unusual. Its various churches are distributed across the Soviet-looking city of Vagharshapat, and searching them out is a little like playing hide and seek.
It was precisely while I was enjoying this very stimulating game myself that I came across the very wonderful and lovely Church of Saint Hripsimé. After visiting Etchmiadzin Cathedral, with its hordes of pilgrims, tourists and worshippers, and the imposing Saint Gayane, I found myself very moved by Saint Hripsimé's more intimate and peaceful aspect. Its architecture is perhaps also the finest and most elaborate of all Etchmiadzine's churches.
Saint Hripsimé's tetraconch plan (with its four apses) is unusually complex, and it is the enhanced stability provided by this design that has enabled it to better resist the forces of earthquakes than its sister buildings. It really is something to be admired from every angle! The inscriptions and ornamental features of its façade are as simple and understated as they are elegant. As for its interior, it is both harmonious and touchingly emotional. Its 17th century altarpiece is quite remarkable.