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Echmiadzin is the fourth largest town and an antique capital of Armenia from 184 to 340 years. It is truly a sacred place for Armenians as it is here in the year 301, was accepted the Christianity by King Trdat III, that was subsequently adopted by the entire nation.
Currently, Echmiadzin is prominent for the existence of the Cathedral, established by Gregory the Illuminator at the very spot where stood before a pagan temple. And today there is also a spiritual and ecclesiastic focus of the of the Armenian Church. It is disposed just 20 kilometers fom Yerevan, and easily obtainable by bus from the central station of the capital.
Armenia was amidst the first states which adopted Christianity as a state religion, thanks to the diligence of St. Gregory the Illuminator, who after years of imprisonment was finally able to baptize the Armenian sovereign and the people. And that is why in his honor Armenian Church is called Gregorian. In accordance the Armenian chronicles, in the 5th centenary, Gregory had a apparition of Christ indicating where it should be erected the Cathedral. In sequence of given fact the founder gave the name to church and the town of Echmiadzin, what means – a spot where the Son of God descended.
This magnificent structure has a cross plan with a centric cupola with four protrusive conchs semicircular inside and polygonal from outside. The central pillars divide the inside space into nine equal sections.
Echmiadzin takes a particular place in the history of Armenian architecture, because it displays the characteristics of its different periods. Despite the fact that the cathedral was restored not once over the centuries and, accordingly, some changes were made, it still retains the original shape. Heart of Cathedral is presented by the structure of the 5th century, meanwhile, like a dome, towers, bell tower and expansion are of later additions.
The interior of sanctuary also original and first frescoes were renewed in the 18th centenary. Stepanos Lehatsi picturised the bell tower in 1664. And in the 18th and 19th centuries Armenian artists were created murals of episodes from the Old Testament.
The splendid carved wooden doors of entry were made in Tbilisi in 1888. In 1891, the painting of the Cathedral commissioned by Catholicos Mkrtich Hrimyana were submitted and currently stored in different museums in Armenia. The frescos have been restored just within 50th of the 20th century and the stone floor was laid out by marble.
During the Soviet era Echmiadzin was revived under the guide of the Catholicos Vasken I. In the idem period, it was carried out archaeological excavations and the cathedral was subjected to significant restructuring. Restoration of the Cathedral greatly contributed financially by wealthy patrons of the Armenian Diaspora.
And in 2000, together with such objects as churches Hripsime, Gayane, St. Shoghakat and Zvartnots, Echmiadzin was indicated as the part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.