Armenian Apostolic Church is one of the oldest Christian churches. The first Christians appeared in Armenia in the first century, when two Disciples of Christ – Thaddeus and Bartholomew came to Armenia and started preaching Christianity. In 301, Armenia adopted Christianity as a state religion and became the first Christian country in the world.
St. Gregory the Illuminator’s contribution in the latter is enormous. He became the first head of the Armenian Church (302-326). Trdat, the King of Great Armenia, who was the cruelest persecutor of Christians before, completely changed his attitude, because the prayers of Gregory miraculously cured him of a desease. Gregory was imprisoned in a well in Artashat for 13 years.
Despite constant wars and persecutions from Persians, Arabs, Mongol-Tatar yoke, as well as the Ottoman-Turkish invasion, Armenians never changed their faith, remaining loyal to their religion.
During 1700 years of Christianity, many churches had been built in Armenia. Some of them were destroyed because of persecutions, some suffered from earthquakes. Fortunately, most of those unique and ancient churches have survived until our days.
We present you our rating of the most beautiful and significant churches in Armenia.
1.Tatev Monastery. Many people will agree that this is not only the most beautiful monastery, but also the leading monastic complex with its energy and aura. We can talk very long about Tatev, but it is better to come and feel its magic power.
2. Haghpat monastery. Just like Tatev, one wants to come to it again and again. And as one of the famous Armenian songwriters said, it is impossible to truely love Armenia, if you have not seen the dawn over the Haghpat Monastery.
3. Monastery complex Noravank. Surrounded by red rocks, it is insanely beautiful in any weather.
4. Monastery of Geghard. A unique architectural structure, part of which is carved out from a rock. It is one of the most popular places among tourists.
5. Monastery Haghartsin. One of the most mysterious places in Armenia, imprisoned in the greenery of mountain forests. It is located not far from everyone’s beloved Dilijan.
6. Monastery of Makaravank. Like Haghartsin, it is also surrounded by a dense forest of Tavush region.
7. Monastery of Odzun. Recently restored, it is one of the oldest monasteries of Lori region.
8. The Cathedral of Echmiadzin. The cathedral was built in 303. It is the religious center of Armenian.
9. Monastery of Khor Virap. Located at the foot of Mount Ararat, Khor Virap singles out among all the churches due to the fact, that it was where the Christianity began in Armenia. The monastery is built on the place of a dungeon, where the first Catholicos of Armenians, Gregory the Illuminator, spent many years in a well.
10. The monastery of Akhtala. Another unique architectural structure of Lori region.
11. The Temple of Saint Gayane. It is located in few hundred meters far from the Cathedral in Etchmiadzin. It is one of the best monuments of Armenian architecture.
12. The Temple of St. Hripsime. Another temple with a unique architecture located in Echmiadzin.
13. The monastery of Vahanavank. It is located near the city of Kapan. Surrounded by stunning nature of Syunik mountains, the monastic complex is the burial vault of Syunik kings and princes.
14. The monastery complex Sevanavank. Located on the peninsula of Lake Sevan.
15. The monastery Sagmosavank. It is located near the city of Ashtarak, on the edge of the gorge of Kasakh River.
16. Monastery of Hovhanavank. It is located not far from Sagmosavank.
17. The monastery complex Kecharis. It is located in Tsakhkadzor city, also known as a ski resort.
18. Monastery Hnevank. Located near the city of Stepanavan, another beauty in Lori region.
19. The Monastery of Goshavank. The monastic complex, founded by Mkhitarian Gosh, is located in the eponmous village near Dilijan.
20. The Monastery of Gndevank. Surrounded by beautiful cliffs, it is located in Vayots Dzor region, near the spa town of Jermuk.
21. Monastery of Marmashen. Surrounded by an apple orchard on the banks of the Akhuryan River near the city of Gyumri, the monastic complex is especially beautiful in May, during the flowering of trees.
22. The monastery of Vorotnavank. It is located near the city of Sisisan.
22. The monastery Harichavank. Located in Shirak region, near Artik city.
23. The Tegher Monastery. It is located on the south-eastern slope of the Aragats Mountain.
24. Monastery of Sanahin. Along with Hakhpat monastery, Geghard, the churches of Echmiadzin (the Cathedral, the temples of St. Hripsime and Gayane), as well as Zvartnots temple, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located near Alaverdi city.
25. Tatevi Metz Anapat (the Great Tatev Desert). The monastery is in Vorotan Gorge. It was a part of Tatev University. It was connected to Tatev Monastery with an underground passage, which was destroyed during an earthquake.
26. Temple of Hayrivank. On the other shore of Lake Sevan.
27. Tsakhac Kar church. It is located not far from the village of Yeghegis, Vayots Dzor region
28. Church of St. Hovhannes in the village of Ardvi, near the town of Alaverdi
29. Church of Vahramashen and Amberd Fortress. It is located at an altitude of 2300 m above sea level, on the slope of the Mount Aragats.
30. The ruins of the temple Zvartnots. In the translation from ancient Armenian, it means “Temple of the Watching/Celestial Angels”. It is on the way to Echmiadzin. It was destroyed during an earthquake in the 10th century. It was discovered in the early 20th century. It is included in UNESCO World Heritage List.
31. Temple of Garni. And, of course, we cannot get around one of the most popular temples – the only temple that remained in Armenia from the pre-Christian period..
Of course, not all the churches of Armenia are represented here, but we tried to note the most significant ones. We are waiting for you among our guests and we will show you the brightest and most beautiful Armenia.
Look inside Armenian churches in the article – Interiors of Armenian churches.
Join the Pilgrimage tour to Armenia.
photo: Vigen Hakhverdyan, Andranik Keshishyan, Mher Ishkhanyan, Arthur Manucharyan