Armenia outstands with a strong faith that has always been the main stronghold of the state, the symbol of equity and prosperity. One of the main sacred and hallowed places for Armenians is the ancient, almost two thousand years old, Echmiadzin located in the picturesque Ararat valley. The historical city originated from the ancient village Vardkesavan founded in the 2nd century B.C. Later, in the beginning of the 2nd century A.D, the king of the Great Armenia Vagarshak I (117-140) built a capital in its place naming it after himself, Vagarshapat.
Armenia is the first country in the world that announced Christianity its state religion in far 301. Since then, Echmiadzin has become a cultural, spiritual and civilization heart of the country. According to the old legend, the Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the first Catholic of all Armenians, once had a prophetic vision in this place: Jesus Christ descended from heaven and with his golden hammer pointed to the place to erect the church. So, in 301 King Trdat III founded Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, meaning “the Descent of the Only-Begotten” in Armenian language; it is one of the oldest in the world history. Later, in 1945 the city was also renamed after the church.
Centuries passed, and in the surrounding of the church more new religious constructions began to grow: Saint Hripsime church built in 618, St. Gayane Church constructed in 630, Church of St. Shokagat erected in 1634.
According to some legends, the ladies were one of the first Christians in Armenia, who preached and spread the faith in one God. It happened once that king Trdat III, being a pagan, wished a wonderful Hripsime, the lady famous for her unusual beauty. She was inexorable to the ruler, thus the tyrant, in fury, gave an order to hail her and her friends with rocks. Hripsime accepted the martyrdom. The ruler though fell ill not long after. St. Gregory the Illuminator took pity on the King and cured him. After this wonder, Trdat III repented, came to believe in Jesus, built Echmiadzin and gave permission to christen the people.
Today Echmiadzin is the prop of Armenian Apostolic Church with the residence of the patriarch inside it. In 1992, the city officially received back the ancient name Vagarpashat, but the majority still uses the previous name. In 2000, the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin was included in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage.
In Echmiadzin you will find relics of special interest like pieces of the crest where Jesus Christ was crucified and the fragment of Noa’s Ark.
Visiting Armenia and not paying a visit to Echmiadzin doesn’t count. The must see place where you will feel the real spirit of the ancient nation is located in a small town only 20km west of Yerevan.