Armavir Marz (region in Armenian), this flat and dry valley directly west of Yerevan, is home to the spiritual center of the Armenian peoples, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, and a number of ancient archaeological sites and churches, including the oldest known bronze forging site in the world.
A cradle of civilization, Armavir is where Christianity first took hold, when the Apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew brought the word of Christ to Armenia in the first century, and where later on Saint Gregory the Illuminator baptized the pagan king, Trdat III, converting all Armenians and erecting the first Christian nation in the world.
The Cathedral of Etchmiadzin was built to serve as the Seat of the Armenian Apostolic Church, in the precise spot where Saint Gregory had a vision of Christ descending and striking the earth with a golden hammer. Revered as Armenia’s holiest place, the religious importance of the cathedral’s grounds predates Christianity, as the cathedral is actually built upon the remains of a pagan fire temple from the third century BC. Today it is the most active spiritual center of Armenia, where most monks and priests receive their education, and it contains a number of museums that house a rich collection of relics and art of Armenia.
Other significant sites in Armavir include the site of the 1918 Battle of Sardarabad, which along with battles at Vanadzor and Aparan marked an important victory and turned the tables, driving back Turkish forces and securing Armenia’s independence. Sardarabad is also the location of Armenia’s largest folklore museum, with hundreds of priceless artifacts from throughout history.