Vagharshapat / Etchmiadzin /
At the crossroads of Armenian history, Vagharshapat being the royal city of the Arshakunis’ dynasty, a religious and cultural center of the Armenian people is now in Armavir province. Six beautiful churches such as the spiritual and administrative center of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, St.Hripsime, St.Gayane, St. Shoghakat, St. Mariam, Holy Mother of God and Zvartnots Temple also mentioned by the name of St. Gregory Arapar embellish the area. According to a prominent Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi “Vagharshapat” was previously and subsequently named as Artimed, Vardgesavan, Vagharshapat, at times Echmiadzin and Kaynepolis / New City /. The name Artimed derived from the temple, built in the territory and dedicated to a goddess Artemid, who is correspondingly Anahit in Armenian mythology.
Vardges as a child came to the city of Artemid to marry king Yervand’s daughter and near the river Qasakh he founded Vardgesavan on the Shresh hill in his own honor. During the first half of the 2nd century King Vagharsh I son of Sanatruk II surrounded Vardgesavan with an impregnable wall and a huge stronghold, by establishing a royal town and by renaming it into Vagharshapat. The Romans had conquered the region for 30 years and by destroying the capital city of Artashat, they proclaimed Vagharshapat a capital city and named it Kaynepolis / New City/. Within the period from 1945 to 1992 the town was renamed into Etchmiadzin, then into Vagharshapat. The people have been dated to reside in this area since 6-3 centuries CC. Rusa II, the king of Biayna or otherwise called Van first mentioned the location in the years of 685-645 BC by calling the area Kuarlini or Kuturlini Valley. Later, at the end of the 3rd century, Agatangeghos gave the exact description of Vagharshapat. In the middle Ages the town and its nearby surroundings were part of Ayrarat village of Aragatsotn Province in the Great Hayq. Vagharshapat like many other eastern cities was surrounded by high walls. The market and an impenetrable citadel with a royal palace and a luminous cathedral were centered inside, whereas beyond the walls pure and natural suburbs beautified the area. Nobles and the ruling class lived inside the walls, but the working class lived outside the walls.
Vagharshapat became an increasingly prosperous and civilized town in the result of its becoming a religious center of Christian Armenia in 301 as well as the seat of Catholicoses. The first school of Mashtots and the first state official book repository also linked with the name of Vagharshapat. Later with the exception of the Bagratunis reign, Vagharshapat, torn apart by violent attacks, lost its glory and splendour and only in 1441 it underwent a reviving change and a new life was breathed into it with the moving of the Holy Seat of Catholicos from Sis to Etchmiadzin in order to become a religious and an administrative center once again.
From 1828 to 1930, when Eastern Armenia joined Russia, Echmiadzin/Vagharshapat was a center of Etchmiadzin village of Yerevan province. Nowadays, in an independent Armenia Mother Cathedral of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Holy Seat of the Catholicos of All Armenians is one of the mostly visited tourism targets in the world.