Zvartnots Zvartnots Zvartnots Zvartnots Zvartnots

Zvartnots Cathedral are the ruins of a seventh century centrally-planned aisled tetraconch type Armenian cathedral built by order of the Catholicos Nerses the Builder from 641-653. It is located at the edge of the city of Etchmiadzin in the Armavir Province of Armenia.

Zvartnots was built at a time when much of Armenia was found under Byzantine control and during the early invasions of Armenia by the Muslim Arabs. Construction of the cathedral began in 642 under the guidance of Catholicos Nerses III (nicknamed Shinogh or the Builder), who built the majestic cathedral dedicated to St. Grigor at the place where a meeting between king Trdat III and Gregory the Illuminator was supposed to have taken place. According to the medieval Armenian historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi, the cathedral was consecrated in 653. From 653 to 659, Nerses was in Tayk and the construction of the cathedral continued under Anastas Akarratsi. Following the Arab occupation of Dvin and the intensifying wars between the Byzantine and Arab armies on the former's eastern borders, Nerses transferred the patriarchal palace of the Catholicos from Dvin to Zvartnots.

Zvartnots remained standing up until the end of the tenth century; afterwards, historical sources are silent as to the cause of its collapse. A close imitation of the cathedral was carried out by Trdat the Architect under the reign of Gagik I Bagratuni during the final decade of the tenth century. The contemporary Armenian historian Stepanos Taronetsi referred to Zvartnots when describing the church that Gagik I had inaugurated as "a large structure at Vałaršapat [Vagharshapat], dedicated to the same saint, that had fallen into ruins".

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