The Christian portal Aleteia.org writes that the Etchmiadzin Cathedral built in 301 AD by Gregory the Illuminator is a testament to both Armenian and universal history.
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral in Vagharshapat (the official name of Etchmiadzin) is the main church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Both historians and archaeologists unanimously claim that this is the first cathedral built in Armenia. This means that Etchmiadzin shares a pedestal with Rome, Thessaloniki, and Syria, where the oldest churches in the world are located – the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the Rotunda of St. George, and Dura-Europos respectively.
The beginning of the construction of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral sends us to the 4th century: the construction was ordered by St. Gregory the Illuminator after Armenia adopted Christianity as an official religion. This happened under Trdat III, the Armenian king whom Gregory the Illuminator baptized personally. The church was built on the ruins of a pagan temple, which symbolized the conversion of the whole country to Christianity.
However, the current foundation of the cathedral was built at the end of the 5th century AD. The main structure suffered as a result of the Persian invasion. Responsible for this construction was Vahan Mamikonyan, a representative of a noble Armenian family who became the leader of Persian Armenia in 485 after several of its cities that had fallen during the Sassanid invasion were restored.
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral, which for 1500 years has been subjected to robbery and restoration, has not only endured the Armenian Genocide of the Ottoman Empire but also the Great Soviet Purge.
Today, combining various styles of Armenian architecture, Etchmiadzin Cathedral is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its cross-shaped form and intricate decorations of the façade along with inscriptions in Greek (made before the invention of the Armenian alphabet) justify the honorable place that Etchmiadzin Cathedral occupies not only in the hearts of Armenian believers but also in the history of Christianity as a whole.