Khor Virap, one of the famous Armenian pilgrimage sites, is located south of Lusarat village of Ararat Marz. Virap was a pit full of snakes and poisonous insects, into which criminals used to be thrown. According to the historian Agathanghegos, the Armenian king Trdat III threw Gregory the Illuminator here, who was trying to spread Christianity in Armenia. During those years, King Trdat becomes mortally ill and having heard about the miracles of the Illuminator, how he heals people, orders his release. Encouraged by the enlightener, the king makes Christianity the state religion.

In 642, Armenian Catholicos Nerses III built a chapel on the site of Virap. The monastery is made of white limestone, it is a circular, central structure with eight columns. In its structure, it is similar to Zvartnots. To the right of the senior altar of the chapel is the virap, which is 6m deep.
Khor Virap also has other auxiliary structures such as a pyramidal enclosure, refectory, cells and other buildings.

In the central part of the complex is St. Astvatsatsin Church. The bell tower is adjacent to it from the west. The church is a domed hall. It was built in the 17th century.
Besides being a holy place, the monastery was also an educational center. People from Cilicia also came to study at the monastery’s doctrinal school. In addition to church education, students also studied philosophy, dexterity, and grammar.

The article was compiled based on observations and materials collected by the ArmLand club.

Author of photos: Artyom Martirosyan