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Zvartnots Cathedral - UNESCO World Heritage Site in Armenia

Zvartnots Temple is a captivating historical site that anyone interested in Armenian culture and architecture should visit. This article sheds light on this magnificent Armenian architectural marvel, whose ruins stand as a testament to the architectural genius and faith of a bygone era.

Zvartnots Temple, also known as Zvartnots Cathedral, is a medieval Armenian temple near the city of Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Catholicos Nerses III, the leader of the Armenian Church at that time, built it in the 7th century CE. The temple is renowned for its unique circular shape, a rarity in Armenian architecture. It features a large dome, four supporting piers for a multifloor structure, and various decorative elements like eagle capitals and vine scroll friezes.


Dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, who converted King Tiridates III to Christianity in the 4th century CE, the temple was a place where the king and St. Gregory discussed their faith and plans for Armenia's future. Nerses III and his successors used the temple as a patriarchal palace until it succumbed to either an earthquake or an Arab raid in the 10th century CE.


Zvartnots stood for 320 years before collapsing in the tenth century. By the time historian Stepanos Taronetsi mentioned the church in his Universal History in the eleventh century, the cathedral was already in ruins. The reason for its collapse is debated, with theories suggesting an earthquake or attacks from repeated Arab raids. Despite being well-engineered, the most accepted explanation is an earthquake collapse.


A model of the Zvartnots Cathedral in the Zvartnots Cultural Museum

Rediscovered in the early 20th century, the ruins were excavated and studied by archaeologists. The original appearance is still debated, with many scholars accepting Toros Toramanian's 1905 reconstruction, proposing that the building had three floors.


This temple is considered one of the most important monuments of medieval Armenia and a symbol of its cultural heritage. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.


Today, tourists can visit Zvartnots Temple to admire its beauty and learn about its history. Offering stunning views of Mount Ararat from various angles, Zvartnots, though a fallen giant, continues to inspire us to reach for the stars and leave our mark on the world.




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