Zvartnots Cathedral

Vagharshapat, Armavir Province, Armenia

Collapsed 972

The Disappointed Tourist: Zvarnots Cathedral, Ellen Harvey, 2024. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ 61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

I’ve visited the Zvartnots ruins a few times on trips to Armenia. The carvings of eagles, vines, etc. on the ruins have inspired me, as well as imagining the original church, with its unique circular architecture.  Linda G.

Zvartnots Cathedral (Armenian: Զուարթնոց տաճար) or Celestial Angels Cathedral) was an Armenian cathedral built by the order of Catholicos Nerses the Builder. Construction started in 643 and was completed in 652. The Cathedral stood for 320 years before its collapse in 972. The cause of its destruction is unclear; the two most common theories are that it was destroyed by Arab raids or in an earthquake. The ruins of Zvartnots were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000 and the cathedral was depicted on the first issue of 100 AMD banknotes. The painting is based on a reconstruction – but I can’t find where it came from.