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Zvartnots 1: Legend


1. Zvartnots Cathedral
2. Central Hall
3. Altar
4. Well
5. Palace Throne Room
6. Palace Hall of Columns
7. Service rooms
8. Private rooms
9. Winery
10 . Pagan Stones
11. Storage jars
12. Rusa II Cuneiform Stone
13. Sundial
14. Roman Bath
15. 5th c. Basilica

The cathedral in front of you, referred to as both Zvartnots and St. Grigor Lusavorich by medieval historians, was built on the spot where it is said Grigor Lusavorich met King T'rdat, initiating the king's conversion and leading to Armenia adopting Christianity as the state religion (the first nation to do so, in 301).

The name is attributed to a vision Grigor Lusavorich had when establishing the Armenian Church, and has been variously translated as “Vigilant Ones”, “Vigilant Forces”, “Archangels” and “Celestial Beings”. The name may as well derive from the pre-Christian word “Zvartnonk”, given to a spirit believed to raise the dead, though this is not proved.

Inspired by an interpretation of the Apocalypse that predicted the second coming of Christ when the seven main churches of Christianity came together, Zvartnots was built to be the “seventh seal of the seventh tier of God's presence on earth” (Revelation 11:15-19 of the Holy Bible). One of the tallest churches on earth when it was built, Zvartnots was the most significant architectural development in the Byzantine world.

Its architecture had a direct impact on the dome of St. Sophia in Constantinople, which collapsed as a result of earthquakes in 558 and 989. The master architect for Zvartnots,T’rdat, is said to have been commissioned to restore St. Sophia's dome in 989-992 using the tubular arch system developed at Zvartnots.

The text was edited by ICOMOS/Armenia NGO.