Mother Cathedral of St. Echmiadzin. The Cathedral of Echmiadzin was founded at the beginning of the forth century and is one of the oldest churches in the world. According to the legend the church was built in the place where apparition of Jesus Christ was seen to Grigory the Illuminator in the dream. The interior of the church is covered with frescoes created by Hovnatanyan family. The residence of the Catholicos and the Theological Academy are situated near the Cathedral. Echmiadzin is the center of Armenian Apostolic church and the residence of the Catholicos of All Armenians.
The Museum "Treasures of Echmiadzin" is situated in the southeast section of the Cathedral. Unique holy relics and religious art are now housed in the museum. Among the many treasures are: the Holy Lance (Geghard) which pierced the side of Christ, housed in a silver reliquary; the relics of Noah's Ark in a reliquary that was created in 1698 and other valuable pieces of art. According to the history, the relic of Noah's Ark, was given to Patriarch St. Hakob (Jacob) of Mts'bna in the fourth century, as he desired to climb the peak of Mount Ararat to find Noah's Ark. After ascending the mountain, he fell asleep through the influence of God, and the angel of the Lord placed the reliquary of the Ark under his head. In a dream, the angel instructs St. Hakob to awaken, take the relic, and descend from the mountain. In addition to the pieces displayed, during archaeological excavations which were conducted due to renovation work of the Holy Altar, remnants of the original Holy Altar, founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator, dating back to 301-303 AD, were discovered.
Before entering the city of Etchmiadzin stands the majestic Church of St. Hripsime. Hripsime is the name of a martyr, whose grave is in the crypt, under the altar. Due to the spread of Christianity in Armenia, as well as her refusal to marry Trdat III, she was tortured and killed. At the place of her death in the 7th century Catholicos Komitas erected a temple. This is evidenced by the inscription on the western wall of the temple from the outside. Hripsime Temple is a classic example of cruciform central domed structures.
Church of St. Gayane. Among the many monuments of Echmiadzin, the most famous temple is Gayane, located south of the Cathedral. According to legend, the martyr Gayane was a friend of Hripsime, her mentor and, like her, died for the spread of Christianity. The temple was founded in 630. By Catholicos Ezrom. In the form of a domed basilica it was restored in 1652. Later, a gallery was added to its western facade - the burial place of the hierarchs of the Armenian church. In the southern aisle of the church, next to the altar apse, the relics of St. Gayane are rested.
Zvartnots. This marvelous temple is a result of skillfulness and brave creativity of Armenian architects of the 7th century. Having been built on several columns it could survive only till the 10th century. When in the beginning of the 20th century this site was being excavated many specialists could hardly accept its reconstruction model designed by famous Armenian architect Toros Toramanyan as it was difficult to believe that such a huge and complicated construction could have been built those days, and amazingly at that time one of the bas-relieves of St. Chapelle church in Paris came to prove Toramanyan's version; the bas-relief depicts Zvartnots temple with Noah's Ark and it looks like the model represented by the architect.