St. Gayane Church
Domed basilica church of St. Gayane being a magnificent historical monument of the first flourishing period of Armenian architecture is one of the sacred apostolic places and one of the most famous sightseeing of the city of Etchmiadzin. Having no special elements of decoration and erected in lieu of the chapel dated to 630 A.D this exquisite building was built on the grave of the virgin St. Gayane during the reign of Yezr Catholicos. The inner space is divided into three naves and there is another door which leads to the tomb of Saint Gayane.
In 1652 during the reign of Pilipos II Catholicos the church was completely renovated, but later in 1679 a destroying earthquake in Ararat valley significantly damaged St. Gayane church. Catholicos Eghiazar Ayntapetsi initiated the reconstruction of the temple. In this respect, there had been noted that the monastery was surrounded by monastic cells, altars bearing the names of St. Paul and S. Peter apostles were added under a three-arched narthex hall, which later became the Catholicos tomb.
Years later in 1764 within the monastery area Catholicos Simeon Yerevantsi built a huge icehouse and a capacious cellar otherwise called “maghaza” to have a long-term storage of food and provision. In 1847 Catholicos Nerses Ashtaraketsi built a bulky barn adjacent to the eastern wall of the monastery, which has been nowadays preserved in a dilapidated condition.
Vahan Bastamyants the bishop of Saint Gayane renovated the monastery, building the arched gate in the western with its buildings on both sides, one of which served as a school he taught for many years. In 1959 by order of Catholicos Vazgen the area of the monastery was replenished and the chapel of oblation and a spring water fountain were also built. It should be noted that many Armenian patriarchs are buried in the narthex hall of St. Gayane. The heroic commander Daniel Bek-Pirumyan from the novel “The Fool” by Raffi’s, church choir singer Lusine Zakaryan, Kh. Abovyan’s son Vardan Abovyan, Mrs. Siranush mother of His Holiness Vazgen and many other prominent people are buried in the adjacent cemetery of the monastery.