Today I visited Vagharshapat, commonly known as Ejmiatsin, which has several major churches.
Ejmiatsin Cathedral, the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church, is unarguably the most significant one. However, I first visited St. Hripsime Church, which is just off the highway connecting capital Yerevan with Vagharshapat.
It was built in the seventh century on the mausoleum of Hripsime, a nun from Rome. Despite its modest size the church is very impressive. Several othe
r major Armenian churches imitate its style, like the cathedral of Aghtamar in Lake Van, now in Turkey. It has several earthquake-resistant techniques in its architecture, such as triangular niches on the outside.
The cathedral is associated with the coming of Christianity to Armenia in the early fourth century. It, too, is not very large, but it is historically significant because it has been the seat of the Armenian Church’s leader for centuries. When Armenians did not have a country of their own, it was Ejmiatsin and its cathedral that they regarded as the center of their nation.
Ejmiatsin, its cathedral and other churches, are worth visiting in the spring as not many tourists visit these sites and the weather it not suffocating as it is mid-summer.