WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT ARMENIAN SACRED ARCHITECTURE?
For such a small country, Armenia has countless examples of breathtaking architecture, each distinctive and different from one another. The country has been around since the beginning of time, and it is fascinating to see the changes in Armenian architecture throughout the centuries. Welcome to the wonderful mix of the old and the new!
Armenian ancient architecture goes back to as far as 9th century BC to the Urartian period. The buildings from this era are mostly ruined but have remains as tourist attractions. The only architecture piece standing strong is the Garni pagan temple (the dominant view is that it was built in 77 AD) which has gone through major reconstruction. From the outside, the buildings looked rich and almost perfectly built. Inside, the decorations were the main pillar of the buildings.
As this historical time is on the same era as the bloom of Greco Roman architecture, many of the architecture pieces were influenced by their style. However, as Armenians adopted Christianity in 301 AC, the new churches brought with them a breath of fresh air.
The new medieval churches became more distinctive in their structure. Many of the churches had pointed domes, as in the volcanic cone of the Greater Ararat. Some of them had semi-pointed domes that are also clearly concentrated more on the height than the length of the church, so the it is usually exceeding the length. The windows are very much narrow and tall, and the main material to build these churches are basalt and tuff. Carvings on Armenian churches are just beautiful – they are usually sentences, or ornates, such as grapevine and foliage.
A great showcase example of a medieval church is the Ejmiatsin Cathedral. The biggest and the main center of the Armenian Apostolic Church, the cathedral is considered to be a masterpiece not just for Armenian architecture, but it glows among others in the world. It was originally believed to have been built in the 4th century, then renovated and modified in the 17th and lastly undergone some changes in the nineteenth century. So, it collects the influence of many time periods in the Armenian architecture, just like many other churches do in the country.
MODERN DAY CHURCHES
Nowadays, the churches of Armenia have mainly adopted what was initially built in the medieval times, with slight touches of modern architecture influence. Check out the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan. This huge building consists of the Main Church, two chapels, and a belfry tower. Just like many of the churches in the country, it is built on a high altitude, proudly looking down the city from high above.
Whether you are visiting Armenia for museums, for churches or even just nature, the country will impress with its ancient style buildings and their influence on the modern day architecture. The country’s unique history defines the mesmerizing cathedrals and monasteries it has to offer in every corner. Feel the spirit of the old and the modern – book your tour with us at Caucasus Holidays!