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Home :: Attractions :: Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin)
Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin)
The area of the Vagharshapat is 15km2 and the number of its inhabitants is 65000. Humans have inhabited the town since the Stone Age. This is testified by numerous Stone, Bronze and Iron Age monuments. The oldest written evidence dates from King Rusas II's time (VII BC). The area was called Kuarlini and it was here that Rusas II dag up a canal from the River Ildarouni (Hrazdan) and planted orchards. Vagharshapat is believed to have been founded by Vardges Manouk, the son-in law of Yervand the Short-Lived (570-560 BC). He built a town on the bank of the River Kasakh at the Shresh Hill and called it Vardgesavan. Under the rule of Tigrans II the Great, the town was a trading centre housing a large number of Jewish refugees. King Vagharsh I Arshakuni (117-140) built a high wall around Vardgesavan and called is Vagharshapat. There was a custom in ancient Armenia: to call a settlement, whether a city, town or village, after the person who built a wall around it. Vagharshapat become the new capital of Armenia. It was also called Kinepolis (New City).

After the adoption of Christianity as a state religion, Vagharshapat become the religious centre of the country. It is here that the first Armenian Christian Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin and the chapels Hripsimeh, Gayaneh and Shoghakat were built. The political conjuncture forced the move of the Mother See to Dvin in 484. Having abandoned the former pontifical residence, Armenian catholicoses moved from one place to another for about 10 centuries (Aghtamar, Argina, Ani, Hromkla  and Sis).

In V c. popular uprisings forced Persia to grant autonomy to Armenia. In Vagharshapat,  the conditions were favorable for arts, crafts and agriculture. The spiritual and cultural life flourished. In VII c., Holy Etchmiadzin was restored and the churches of St Hripsimeh and St. Gayaneh were built in the place of the virgins' chapels alongside Zvartnots Cathedral. Vagharshapat had flourished till the middle of XI c. Then no memories survived as it was destroyed by conquerors. In 1441, the All-Armenian Catholicosate was re-established in Vagharshapat. Once again the town become the spiritual and religious centre of all Armenians and the residence of the Armenian Catholicos. It has remained sp till our days.

In XVII-XVIII c., there was an economic and commercial boom. At the end of XIX c. it become important cultural centre in Armenia. Komitas, H. Hovhannisyan, H. Atcharyan, M. Abeghyan, Ye. Tadevosyan and G. Hovsepyan lived and worked here.

Vagharshapat chahged considerably during the Soviet rule. Its centre was repaired alongside its main Komitas Square , trade centre, administrative building and the monastic complex. A monument to Komitas was erected in the square. At present, there are a number of general education, music and art schools in Vagharshapat. It also has a library, the Cultural Centre after Komitas, the Soviet rule. Its centre was repaired alongside its main Komitas Square, trade center, administrative building and the monastic complex. A monument to Komitas was erected in the square. At present, there are a number of general education, music and art schools in Vagharshapat. It also has a library, the Cultural Centre after Komitas, the Drama Theatre after Ch. Aznavour, the H. Hovhannisyan Museum, the Museum of Kh. Ter-Haroutyan, an American sculptor of Armenian origin, etc.

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