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Armenian Treasures on UNESCO World Heritage List - part2

For a passionate traveler, a visit to any country will not be complete without learning about its cultural heritage.  Armenia has a lot to offer in terms of cultural exploration. With its history counting millennia, Armenia has created a number of treasures of universal importance that have been inscribed into UNESCO’s World Heritage list. While you are traveling in Armenia, make sure to visit these heritage sites and learn about their rich history!

Etchmiadzin Cathedral and Churches and the ruins of Zvartnots: standing witnesses of Armenia’s finest architectural traditions  

The town of Vagharshapat (also widely referred to as Etchmiadzin) is the fourth largest town in Armenia, and it’s also one of the most important cities for the followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Located in Vagharshapat is the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin - the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The main Cathedral was built in the 4th century when Armenia adopted Christianity as the state religion. The Cathedral has been restored and rebuilt several times throughout the centuries and appears as an encyclopedia of Armenia’s centuries-old church architecture. The main Cathedral has been inscribed into UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

The town hosts 3 other iconic churches, all of them included into UNESCO’s World Heritage list -  St. Hripsime Church (7th century), St. Gayane Church (7th century) and Shoghakat Church (17th century). St. Gayane and St. Hripsime were Christian nuns who were martyred in the first years of conversion of the country to Christianity. After adoption of Christianity they were sanctified and the churches were built on the location of their martyrdom. Shoghakat Church was built later in dedication to martyred nuns: the word ‘Shoghakat’ means ‘drop of light’ referring to light that is said to come down from heaven on the location where the nuns were martyred.

The ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral are the last UNESCO World Heritage site around Vagharshapat area. Built in the 7th century in the best architectural traditions of the time, Zvartnots is believed to have been a true marvel of Armenian architecture. While there are no exact sources on how the Cathedral was ruined, it is believed to have functioned till the 10th century when it was ruined most likely due to an earthquake.

Vagharshapat Churches and the ruins of Zvartnots Cathedral are definitely a must visit place if you want to discover the wonders of Armenian church architecture that are considered so valuable  that they were included into UNESCO’s World Heritage list.



Geghard Monastery and Upper Azat Valley: the perfect harmony of nature and architecture

Geghard Monastery Complex is the next must-see destination on Armenia’s UNESCO World Heritage list. Located just about 40km from Yerevan, this spectacular monastery complex is so harmoniously merged with the surrounding rocky mountains that it’s guaranteed to astonish you with its beauty – both natural and man-made. The Monastery was first founded in the 4th century but was later ruined during numerous invasions that plagued the country. Most of the buildings of the complex were built in 12th-13th centuries with parts of the church buildings being entirely dug out of huge rocks surrounding the church. The word Geghard is the Armenian for ‘spear’: the Monastery was called so because the spear with which Jesus was wounded at the Crucifixion was brought to Armenia by Apostle Thaddeus and was kept in this Monastery. In addition to its unique architecture and natural setting, Geghard Monastery is also remarkable for many beautiful cross-stones - khachkars – spread throughout the complex. Geghard Monastery Complex together with the huge rocky cliffs of Azat River Valley surrounding the Monastery are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage. While in Armenia, take a day trip to Geghard to enjoy the beautiful nature of the area and recharge yourself with the powerful energy of the ancient Monastery!


Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin: the centers of Armenia’s spiritual, cultural and educational heritage 

Haghpat and Sanahin Monastery Complexes are both located in the northern Lori province of Armenia. Both Monasteries were built in the 10th century and functioned as spiritual, cultural and educational centers: in addition to religious functions, the monasteries also provided education in a range of spheres such as philosophy, medicine, rhetoric, music, etc.

Haghpat Monastery is comprised of several churches and auxiliary buildings, with the main Church of St. Nshan being one of the most important structures of the Armenian medieval church architecture. The Monastery Complex is also very rich in khachkars one of which, the Amenaprkich khachkar of Haghpat, is probably one of the most famous and iconic khachkars of Armenia.

Sanahin Monastery Complex also includes several churches and other buildings representing the wealth of Armenia’s medieval architecture. The main churches of the Complex are St. Astvatsatsin and St. Amenaprkich Churches that are considered to be the finest examples of classical Armenian medieval architecture.  Both Haghpat and Sanahin Monastery Complexes are included into UNESCO’s World Heritage List .



The Monastery Complexes are about 3.5 hours away from Yerevan on a beautiful but at times difficult mountainous road. While a day trip from Yerevan to these complexes is still possible despite the distance, the area can be best explored if you plan more time to be able to experience its beauty in no rush. Tufenkian Avan Dzoraget Hotel beautifully located in the Debed river gorge in the very heart of Lori province can best serve as your home while you travel in Lori exploring the World Heritage Sites.  


Armenia’s cultural heritage is waiting to be discovered by visitors from all over the world. Plan your next trip to our wonderful country and incorporate true cultural exploration into it to learn about heritage sites of universal importance!


Text by AmatunyCopywriting

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