Armenia is known for its majestic churches. There’s isolated Sevanavank Monastery that is located on a shore of the well-known Lake Sevan; there’s carved inside a rock mountain Geghard Monastery; there’s breathtaking Tatev Monastery; the list goes on and on… Of course some churches are more popular among travelers than the others. The majority of Armenian churches is an exceptional example of ancient temple architecture. However, there’s one church that is often visited, but not by tourists and not because of its scenic beauty. Saint Meshrop Mashtots Church is the most common destination for Armenian pilgrims. Why? Because it’s the last resting place of Mesrop Mashtots. Who is Mesrop Mashtots? Well, he, basically, invented the Armenian alphabet. Quite an achievement, isn’t it? He was a medieval theologian and linguist who greatly contributed to strengthening national identity of Armenia.
The church is located 25 km away from Yerevan, in Oshakan village, Aragatsotn region. The church was built in 19th century, but started from a small chapel in 443. IThe chapel was built by the order of Prince Vahan Amatuoni. The burial place of famous creator turned into pilgrimage destination and played its role until 18th century, when it was ruined. In 1875, His Holiness Gevorg III initiated construction of a beautiful Armenian church with the altar above Saint Mesrop’s tomb. The entrance of the church was adorned with 36 khachkars that represent 36 letters of Armenian alphabet. Due to cultural significance of this Armenian church it’s the busiest on September 1st; according to the tradition children who are about to start their education must learn the first letters of the alphabet inside the church.
Although, comparing to other Armenian churches Saint Mesrop Mashtots Cathedral is very modern ad lacks that special feel, you won’t regret visiting it. It’s a treasury of Armenian heritage and culture.