Armenia is a museum in the open air. This sentence was uttered by Rockwell Kent, when he visited Armenia in the 1960s. We can’t find any ancient houses, palaces or other old dwelling constructions in our country. The only preserved historical monuments in Armenia are churches and monasteries and that is logically true. Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as state religion, and the first state built church in the world is considered to be the Mother Cathedral in Echmiatsin which was built in 303AD. It was founded by the first Armenian Catholicos St Gregory. In fact it is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. The Mother Cathedral in Echmiatsin is the holy centre of the Armenian Apostolic Church and is inscripted into UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
The cathedral has a cruciform plan and is central domed. The interior of the church is covered with frescos created by Hovnatanyan family. The entrance is carved and it is very beautiful.
There are four more churches in Echmiatsin: St Hripsimeh Church which has the biggest dome among all Armenian churches, St Gayaneh Church with a churchyard cemetery, St Shoghakat Church and St Astvatsatsin Church. 1767
The residence of the Catholicos of all Armenians Garegin the 2nd is not far from the Mother Cathedral.
St Hripsimeh Church was built in 618 AD. It has a cruciform plan and has the simplicity and purity of the Armenian architecture of the high Middle Ages. It is a real masterpiece.
St Gayaneh Church was built in 630AD. Slender and delicate proportions are distinguishing features of this church.
Not far from Echmiatsin we can see the ruins of an ancient temple. These are the ruins of the famous Temple of Zvartnots. The temple was erected in 659 and was destroyed by the earthquake.
Geghard is an incredible ancient Armenian monastery which is partly carved out of a mountain. The monastery was built in the 4th century but the main cathedral was built in 1215. There are two small chambers here with extraordinarily pure and great acoustics. Here one wants to sing or recite.
Goshavank Monastery in Tavush was built in the 13th century. Mkhitar Gosh, the author of the first criminal code “Datastanagirq”, took part in building the monastery. It was built in the place of another church Nor Getik, which was destroyed by an earththquake. Mkhitar Gosh founded a school in Goshavank.
Noravank is a 13th century monastery built in Vayots Dzor near Eghegnadzor. It is on a high hill surrounded by magnificent rocky mountains. The sight is really picturesque.