“Matenadaran” means a "book-depository" in ancient Armenian. Indeed, Matenadaran is the pride of Armenian culture, the world's largest storage of ancient manuscripts. It towers over Mesrop Mashtots Prospect in the centre of Yerevan. It was created on the basis of the collection of manuscripts, nationalized in 1920, belonging to Echmiadzin Monaster. The chronological sequence of the exhibits arrangement represents the national writing culture from the very beginning to the 19 th century.
Open on March 1st, 1959 Matenadaran is in fact a scientific research institute of ancient manuscripts which stores more than 17 thousand ancient manuscripts and more than 100 thousand ancient archival documents. Along with 13 thousand Armenian manuscripts there are more than 2000 manuscripts in Russian, Hebrew, Latin, Arabian, Syrian, Greek, Japanese, Persian and other languages. The collection of Matenadaran is the priceless scientific and historical base for studying history and culture of Armenia and the people of Caucasus and Middle East. The manuscripts dated the 5 th -18 th centuries, the unique collection of incunabula and Armenian books printed in the 16 th – 18 th centuries, the works of ancient and medieval Armenian historians, writers, philosophers, mathematicians, geographers, doctors, translations from Ancient Greek, Syrian, Arabian and Latin including a number of books the originals of which have not survived are stored in the Institute. Numerous samples of ancient Armenian writing and miniatures can also be seen there.
Matenadaran has special value as an art museum with the unique collection of book paintings and those kinds of arts and crafts which are connected with hand-written book art: the samples of fabrics, leather stamping, repoussage and jewelry.
The building was constructed in the spirit of national 12 th – 13 th –century traditions. The monument to Mesrop Mashtots, the founder of Armenian writing and other outstanding thinkers of ancient Armenia, such as Movses Khorenatsi, Anani Shrakatsi, Mkhitar Gosh, Toros Roslin, Frik, Gregory Tatecatsi stands in front of it.