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Dvin: Legend


1. The Citadel
2. The Cathedral
3. Catholikos’ palace
4. St. Sarkis church


Dvin is one of the country's most important historic cities – one of its twelve capitals with almost 1000 years of history.

Built on prehistoric foundations, Dvin's emergence into history begins in 330s, when the Arshakuni king Khosrov II Kotak (r. 330-338) founded the city on a hill not far from old capital at Artashat (the word “Dvin” is a middle Persian word for “Hill”). The king planted the nearby Khosrov Forest to improve the air of his new city and which he used to link Dvin with the fortress and temple at Garni. Some 150 years after its foundation, in 481 Lord Nerses Bagratuni proclaimed Dvin Armenia's capital. When climatic conditions in the old capital Artashat became intolerable as a result of the Arax river shifting it course and that area turned into swampland, Artashat's population gradually moved to the new capital of Dvin.

According to the historians Sebeos and Hovhannes (John) V Draskhanakerttsi (Catholicos of All Armenians 898-929) ), Dvin was captured in 640 during the reigns of the Byzantine Emperor Costas II and Catholicos Yez'r, when Arabs swept through the region and sacked the city, slaughtering 12,000 of its inhabitants, carrying 35,000 into slavery.

The Arabs called the city Dabil and it became the capital of the Arab Caliphate’s north administrative unit, called “Armenia”, the seat of the Vostikan or Caliphate appointed governor. Dvin remained in Arab hands for the next 300 years.

Arab chroniclers record that Dvin exported a wide range of goods, collectively called “Armenian” goods which were prized at markets of the time and included coveted fine textiles dyed with the rich red blood of the “Vordan Karmir” (cochineal).

The city was wracked by an earthquake in 863, rebuilt, and then almost destroyed by a second, more severe tremor in 893, which buried alive 70,000 inhabitants. Rebuilt, Dvin continued as an administrative and religious center. It was the Seat of the Catholicos from 475 to 914 (some sources claim till 918). Byzantium captured Dvin from the Bagratunis in 1045, then lost it to the Seljuks in 1064.

Its last flowering was the Zakarian period, with the eviction of the Seljuks by a joint Armenian-Georgian army led by the Zakarian brothers, Ivaneh and Zakareh, in the late 12th century.

Dvin was finally destroyed as a result of invasions by Jalal Ad-Din (1225) and the Mongols (1236).

Original text edited by International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)-Armenian National Committee and the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography at the National Academy of Sciences for the Republic of Armenia.