Khor Virap, Holy Echmiadzin, Zvartnots Cathedral

Khor Virap Monastery, Hripsime and Gayane Churches, Mother Cathedral of Holy Echmiadzin, Treasure Museum, Zvartnots Temple

Duration: 7-8 hours / Mileage: 145 km

This combined tour includes visits of some of the main Christian monasteries of Armenia. The first stop will be at Khor Virap monastery, from where there opens a breathtaking view of the Biblical Mount Ararat (in cloudless weather). Next up on the route is the visit of the spiritual center of Armenia – Echmiadzin, the sites of which are included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The first stops will be at the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane, afterwards there comes the key stop at the Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral – the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the very first Christian cathedral in the World. At the moment the cathedral is under reconstruction and, unfortunately, it can only be viewed from the outside. Not far from the Cathedral, the amazing “Treasures of Echmiadzin” museum is there to welcome you. The last stop of the tour is Zvartnots temple of 7th century, one of the tallest buildings of the time.

Khor Virap is the most famous pilgrimage site in Armenia, as it is directly connected with the adoption of Christianity. As a state religion, Christianity in Armenia was adopted in 301 due to endeavors of Saint Gregory The Illuminator, who, before converting King Trdat The 3rd to Christianity, was imprisoned in the dungeon, over which a church of Khor Virap monastery was built in the 17th century. From the monastery one can admire the stunning view of the Biblical Mount Ararat.

The center of Armenian Apostolic church – St. Echmiadzin is located 20 km far from Yerevan. The Cathedral of Echmiadzin was founded at the beginning of the fourth century and is one of the oldest churches in the world. According to the legend, the church was built in the place where apparition of Jesus Christ was seen to Gregory The Illuminator in the dream. The interior of the church is covered with frescoes, created by Hovnatanyan family. The residence of the Catholicos and the Theological Academy are situated near the Cathedral. Starting from the end of 2018 year till the present day reconstruction works are being carried out, thus the visit of Mother Cathedral currently is foreseen only from outside. The site is included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

The Museum “Treasures of Echmiadzin” is situated in the southeast section of the Cathedral. Unique holy relics and religious art are now housed in the museum. Among the many treasures there are: the Holy Lance (Geghard), which pierced the side of Christ, housed in a silver reliquary; the relics of Noah’s Ark in a reliquary that was created in 1698 and other valuable pieces of art. According to the history, the relic of Noah’s Ark, was given to Patriarch St. Hakob (Jacob) of Mts’bna in the fourth century, as he desired to climb the peak of Mount Ararat to find Noah’s Ark. After ascending the mountain, he fell asleep through the influence of God, and the angel of the Lord placed the reliquary of the Ark under his head. In a dream, the angel instructs St. Hakob to awaken, take the relic and descend from the mountain. In addition to the pieces displayed, during archaeological excavations, which were conducted due to renovation work of the Holy Altar, remnants of the original Holy Altar, founded by St. Gregory The Illuminator, dating back to 301-303 AD, were discovered.

Not far from the Echmiadzin Cathedral, against the background of white peaks of Ararat, one can see the silhouette of the cupola of St. Gayane church. It was built in the 7th century and belongs to the domed-basilica style. According to the legend, this church was constructed over the tomb of Virgin Gayane, who had been martyred for preaching Christianity. The site is included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

St. Hripsime church is one of the famous ecclesiastical buildings in the city of Echmiadzin. This is the developed and perfect example of cross-cupola churches in Armenia. The church is notable with its architectural simplicity and loftiness. The tomb of the Christian martyr Virgin Hripsime is in the sacristy of the church. The site is included in UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

This marvelous temple is a result of skillfulness and brave creativity of Armenian architects of the 7th century. Having been built on several columns, it was able to survive only till the 10th century. When in the beginning of the 20th century this site was being excavated, many specialists could hardly accept its reconstruction model, designed by famous Armenian architect Toros Toramanyan, as it was difficult to believe, that such a huge and complicated construction could have been built those days, and amazingly at that time one of the bas-relieves of St. Chapelle church in Paris came to prove Toramanyan’s version; the bas-relief depicts Zvartnots temple with Noah’s Ark and it looks like the model, represented by the architect. The site is included in UNESCO Cultural World Heritage List.

Price per person

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  • Professional drivers
  • Air-conditioned vehicles
  • Bottled water
  • Free pick-up & drop-off within Yerevan
  • Vehicle & passengers insurance
  • Extra stops on the route upon request


  • Significant deviations from the route
  • Alcoholic beverages if lunch option selected
  • Audio guides
  • WiFi in the vehicles 

What to expect

  • Embrace the stunning views of Biblical Mount Ararat
  • Explore incredible UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites
  • See the very first Christian cathedral in the World
  • Take a look at the Holy Lance and relics of Noah’s Ark


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