Khor Virap Monastery is an Armenian monastery located in the Ararat Plain in Armenia, near the border with Turkey, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) south of Artashat, Ararat Province, within the territory of ancient Artaxata.
Khor Virap’s notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site is attributed to the fact that Saint Gregory the Illuminator was initially imprisoned there for 13 years by King Tiridates III of Armenia.
Gregory the Illuminator (257 – 328) was the founder and first head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He converted Armenia from paganism to Christianity in the early fourth century (traditionally dated to 301), making Armenia the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion.
A chapel was initially built in 642 at the site of Khor Virap by Nerses III the Builder as a mark of veneration to Saint Gregory. Over the centuries, it was repeatedly rebuilt. In 1662, the larger chapel known as the “St. Astvatsatsin” (Holy Mother of God) was built around the ruins of the old chapel, the monastery, the refectory and the cells of the monks. Now, regular church services are held in this church. It is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Armenia.
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