The walled monastic complex of Khor Virap stands proudly on a rocky outcrop above the river plain, offering breathtaking views of the majestic Mount Ararat. This complex is a splendid example of early Armenian ecclesiastic architecture and has been extensively restored, preserving its historical significance.
Khor Virap holds a special place in Armenia’s history, thanks to the legend of St. Grigor the Illuminator, the first Armenian Catholicos. Gregory faced imprisonment there for 13 years. During the reign of King Trdat III the Great, Grigor courageously spread Christianity in Armenia, despite the disapproval of the pagan ruler. Refusing to worship pagan gods, Gregory was thrown into a deep well by the king’s guards and left to perish in the dark dungeon.
Miraculously, Grigor survived those 13 years in that gloomy, damp, and cramped space, thanks to the kindness of a compassionate woman. Her tender heart provided him with sustenance and hope throughout his imprisonment.
The hill of Khor Virap and its surroundings hold a significant place in ancient history as the location of the early Armenian capital city of Artashat, founded around 180 BC by King Artashes I, the founder of the Artashesyan dynasty.
Today, Khor Virap remains an essential part of Armenia’s cultural heritage, attracting visitors from all around the world who come to explore its rich history and witness the remarkable story of St. Grigor the Illuminator. As you visit this sacred site, you’ll feel a connection to the past, immersing yourself in the profound spirituality and historical significance it holds.