Welcome to Zvartnots Cathedral

A model of the partially reconstructed church in the State Museum of Armenian History in Yerevan shows it to have been a round creation with a hood-shaped dome 45m high. An earthquake in 930 caused the building to collapse. An arc of finely carved pillars and a massive stone floor are what remains, along with a profusion of decorated stone fragments. Architecture historians argue over whether the reconstruction in the museum is really true to the church’s original design. Either way, the pillars evoke a feeling for a Greek- and Roman-influenced Levantine Christianity similar to many early-Syrian church ruins.

A pool in the centre of the building was used to baptise adults. Around the cathedral are the ruins of the palace of the Catholicos and the wine press and stone tanks of a massive medieval winery. Zvartnots lies in rich farmlands and orchard just south of the Echmiadzin–Yerevan highway, next to the delightfully named village of Ptghunk, 17km from Yerevan and 4km from the centre of Echmiadzin. It’s easy to catch public transport either way along the highway.

Top experiences in Zvartnots Cathedral

Zvartnots Cathedral activities

$21 Day Trips & Excursions

Echmiatsin and Zvartnots Day Trip from Yerevan

Make your way to a central location in Yerevan for 10am departure, then board a climate-controlled vehicle for the 8-mile (20-km.) trip to the first stop of the day, Echmiadsin Cathedral. Founded at the beginning of the fourth century, this is one of the oldest churches in the world, and according to the legend was built in the place where Jesus Christ appeared in a dream to Gregory the Illuminator. The interior of the church is covered with frescoes by the Hovnatanyan family, and you'll find a monastery and theological academy a short distance from the Cathedral.The next stop is St. Hripsime church, a fine example of Armenia's cross-cupola churches, with simple, lofty architecture. The tomb of the Christian martyr Virgin Hripsime is in the sacristy of the church. Not far from the Echmiadzin Cathedral, you'll find the cupola of St. Gayane church with the backdrop of Ararat's white peaks—according to legend  this church was constructed over the tomb of virgin Gayane, who was martyred for preaching Christianity.Next, see holy relics and religious art in the Treasures of Echmiadsin Museum, whose many treasures include the Holy Lance, or Geghard, believed to have pierced the side of Christ, and what are believe to be the relics of Noah's Ark, both housed in silver reliquaries. According to the history, the relic of Noah's Ark was given to Patriarch St. Hakob, or Jacob, of Mts'bna in the fourth century, when he wanted to climb the peak of Mount Ararat to search for Noah's Ark. The last stop of the day is the 7th-century Zvartnots Cathedral, which was excavated and reconstructed in the early 20th century. Following your time at Zvartnots Cathedral, begin the return trip to Yerevan, where this tour concludes with drop-off at your hotel.

Zvartnots Cathedral in detail