Culture of medieval Armenia is closely connected to culture of Byzantine. Some Byzantine emperors and military commanders of 9th-10th centuries had Armenian roots. When cupola of famous Haigha Sophia was damaged by an earthquake, well-known Armenian architect Trdat was invited to reconstruct this wonder of Byzantine art. Armenian architecture was influenced by Roman, Greek, Byzantine, and Iranian cultures. One of the most outstanding examples of Armenian architecture is Zvartnots Temple.
This magnificent landmark is located 5 km away from Echmiadzin. It was built in 7th century, but, the cathedral was destroyed by devastating earthquake in 10th century, so today it lies in ruins. Hard to imagine how magnificent impression the cathedral gave had been before it was destroyed, if the remnants leave travelers speechless. The name of the cathedral is translated as “the Temple of Watching Forces”; the construction started in 641 and lasted for 20 years. The cathedral consisted of 3 cylinders of different sizes, four 20-meter columns, two-level gallery, and five entrances. It was 49 meters of height. Impressive, isn’t it?
Both, the exterior and the interior were lavishly decorated with carved ornaments. There were geometrical patterns, grapevines, pomegranates, mosaic, and sculptures. Researchers proved that the temple would have been able to get through that earthquake and coming centuries, if the architect hadn’t made a mistake during construction. The weight of upper part of the building wasn’t properly distributed on four pylons, thus, it didn’t have solid support. This uneven distribution of load lead to the building to be torn apart.
In 1937, Zvartnots was turned into the museum and archaeological reserve. Today travelers are exposed to a variety of fragments of the cathedral that allow to imagine how spectacular and great in size the building was. Zvartnots Temple is included into UNESCO World Heritage Site as valuable example of Armenian architecture.