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Christianity in Armenia

Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in AD 301. The Armenian Apostolic Church is part of Oriental Orthodoxy and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. It is claims to trace its origins to the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the 1st century and is an early center of Christianity.

IMG 2658The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the worldwide Armenian Church. The Etchmiadzin Cathedral was built in 301–303 by St. Gregory the Illuminator. Saint Gregory had a vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the ground with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built.The patriarch gave the church  the name of Echmiadzin (the place where the Only Begotten descended). The Etchmiadzin Cathedral is the oldest church in the world. It has stood as a symbol of the faith of Armenian nation through decades. 
1024px-Khor Virap Monastery4The Khor Virap (deep well)  was host to a theological seminary and was the residence of Armenian Catholicos. A chapel was initially built in 642 AD by Nerses III the Builder as a mark of veneration to Saint Gregory. Khor Virap is one of the most popular destinations in Armenia for a number of reasons, primarily because it is where Grigor the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years. To this day you can visit the underground chamber which he was imprisoned in, located in the nondescript St. Gevorg Chapel apart from the main church. Only in Khor Virap you will be as close to Mt. Ararat as you can probably get in Armenia.
900px-Noravank1Noravank (New Monastery) is a 13th-century Armenian monastery. In 1205 Bishop Hovhannes founded Noravank. The monastic complex includes the church of S. Karapet, S. Grigor chapel with a vaulted hall, and the church of S. Astvatsatsin. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surp Astvatsatsin church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building. The monastery became a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor's famed university and library.
Geghard01The monastery of Geghard (spear) is a unique architectural construction, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. The monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator, but the main chapel was built in 1215. The monastery had been originally named Ayrivank. The name commonly used for the monastery today fully Geghardavank (the Monastery of the Spear), originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Thaddeus. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.