The City of Artashat was founded in 1945 by the Soviet Armenian Government, in roughly the same place and in honor of the ancient City of Artashat. Eight kilometers north of the current city, the 5th century Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi regales, King Artashes I (founder of the Artashesian Dynasty) travelled to the confluence of the Yeraskh and Metsamor rivers, and under the shadow of Mt. Ararat established the capital of his empire in 176 BC, naming it after himself.
Excavations in the vicinity have uncovered a large settlement from the early Bronze Age, and more recently, the huge Urartian City that Artashat was built over. This ancient city – also known as “Vostan Hayots,” or Realm of the Armenians – was the location of the first ever theater in Armenia, around 60 BC.
After its re-founding, the new City of Artashat grew gradually during the Soviet period, as an industrial hub for food-processing and building materials. Combining sightseeing and historical tourism, together with a wide range of events, Artashat’s cultural life is constantly growing richer. This is evident in the establishment and presence of several institutions: The Artashat Art Center after Charles Aznavour, the Amo Kharazyan Drama Theater and the Ohan Chubaryan Public Library (opened in 1948). The theater has performed a number of classic and modern, Armenian and international works over the last fifteen years.
During events dedicated to the 1600th anniversary of the invention of the Armenian alphabet, sculptors from all over Armenia and the diaspora gathered in the center of Artashat to create many interesting cultural monuments.
Things to See in Artashat:
Khor Virap (“Deep Pit”) Monastery is where Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned and left to starve for thirteen years, before his liberation and conversion of Armenia to Christianity. The monastery includes two churches – the Church of Saint Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) with its belfry, and the Church of Saint Gevorg.
Ruins of the Ancient City of Artashat – The ancient City of Artashat was built on a group of twelve hills of varying size surrounding Khor Virap Monastery. Archaeological excavations have uncovered amazing things among them, including coins, seals, ruins of the Temple of Apollo (the God of Sun) and the citadel of the city, and the remnants of homes and a marketplace․ The city had an artificial drinking supply and even drainage channels along its streets.
Church of Saint John– This church has a solemn appearance, lacking any luxurious details and ornamentation; the architects have done their best to build a church where attendees’ attention won’t be distracted from prayer due to excessive decoration. The construction of the church was launched at the start of the year 2000 but, due to many interruptions and setbacks, lasted for a decade!