Top 5 UNESCO Heritage Objects in Armenia
If you are interested in the cultural tourism and want to make a pilgrimage to holy places then you should consider Armenia as a must-visit place. Being the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as the state religion, the amazing religious architectural masterpieces here cover this land as stars cover the sky. Many of them are already the objects of UNESCO heritage. It is up to you whether to contact the tour operator in Armenia and explore these sights in guided-tours or whether to travel by yourself. In any case, you'll get lots of memorable impressions. And for those who plan to trip independently we offer useful information about the most majestic world-known religious sights of the country:
Echmiadzin town is located not far from Yerevan. It is a place revered by Armenians from all over the world as here is the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. According to the legend, Gregory the Illuminator - the founder of Christianity in Armenia - had a dream in which God showed him the exact place for the construction of the first Christian church in the country. Thus in 301-303 in the town which is now known as Echmiadzin, on the place of a pagan temple, this majestic cathedral was constructed. The church is considered the first Christian church in the world and is a must-visit place for all guests of Armenia. The Echmiadzin Cathedral keeps such valuable relics as а Spearhead of Longinus. In the courtyard of the monastery is located the residence of the Armenian Patriarch - Catholicos of All Armenians. In 2000, the cathedral was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. We recommend visiting this place to those who want to get in touch with the spiritual heritage of the country.
The monastery of Geghard is another majestic architectural monument of Armenia which is famous for its unique rock architecture. The exact date of its foundation is not known till now. Most likely, in the beginning of the IV-th century there was a small monastery called Ayruvank (cave monastery), which got this name due to the location in the natural and artificial caves. However, in X - XII centuries the monastery was repeatedly attacked by the invaders and in 923 was looted and burned. It was then rebuilt and the existing ensemble that you can contemplate today belongs to the XII-XIII centuries. Its new name «geghard» is translated from Armenian as «a spear». This name is associated with the spear of Longinus that pierced Christ on the cross. For a long time, it had been kept in the monastery and not so long ago was moved to the Echmiadzin Cathedral. Geghard Monastery with its indescribable majestic architecture and surrounding landscapes no less beautiful and inspiring is a real must-visit place. Now it is a UNESCO heritage object.
The Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin
The other amazing architectural creation in the country is Sanahin Monastery located not far from Alaverdi town at the canyon of the River Debed. It is one of the most popular monasteries of the Northern Armenia. The exact date of its foundation has not been found out. However, it is known that in the X-XI cent. the number of monks here reached several hundred people. It is believed that they were the Armenian clergy expelled from the Byzantine emperor Roman Lakapin. During this period, Sanahin acquired the value of the educational center of Armenia and the monastery school was transformed into the Academy, known in history as the Academy of Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni.
The Monastery of Haghpat is located close to Sanahin, in 7km drive to the east. It is believed that they both were built during the same period by the same masters.This is indicated by the many similarities in both complexes. And both of them are included into the UNESCO heritage list.
The construction of Zvartots temple began in 641-643 years and was conducted intermittently over twenty years. The descriptions of it have not been preserved, but we know that it was the subject of enthusiastic praise. Even the Byzantine Emperor Constantine III, who visited Armenia in 652, was so struck by the beauty of the temple, that he asked the main builder to go with him to Constantinople and construct the similar masterpiece. Zvartnots stood for more than three hundred years, and in 930, was destroyed by an earthquake. The ruins of the temple were found during the archaeological invasions and you can visit them now.
In Armenia, there are many other exciting attractions included in the UNESCO list. Take a pilgrimage to these religious sites, and you will get plenty of memorable impressions. If you do not want to plan your trip by yourself, contact tour operators or travel agencies as almost all sightseeing tours include a visit to Armenian UNESCO objects. For example, the program of the Christian Tour of Arara includes a visit to the Echmiadzin Cathedral, the monasteries of Geghard, Sanahin and Haghpat.