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Khor Virap

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Khor Virap
Խոր Վիրապ

Khor Virap with Mount Ararat in background

Basic information
Location near Lusarat, Ararat Province,
Armenia Armenia
Geographic coordinates 39°52′42″N 44°34′34″E / 39.878333°N 44.576111°E / 39.878333; 44.576111Coordinates: 39°52′42″N 44°34′34″E / 39.878333°N 44.576111°E / 39.878333; 44.576111
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Architectural description
Architectural style Armenian
Groundbreaking 642
Year completed 17th century
Armenia location map
Shown within Armenia

The Khor Virap (Armenian: Խոր Վիրապ, meaning deep pit) monastery is a 7th century Armenian monastery in the Ararat plain in Armenia, very close to the border with Turkey and the closest point in Armenia to Mount Ararat, the national symbol of Armenia.

Khor Virap is significant in Armenian history because it is the where Saint Gregory the Illuminator (the patron-saint of Armenia) was imprisoned in a deep dungeon for 13 years by the then pagan Armenian King Trdat III. According to Armenian legend, the King contracted a vile disease turning him into a wild boar. After releasing Saint Gregory from the dungeon, the King was healed by Saint Gregory and converted him to Christianity in 301 AD, making Armenia the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion.


The main church, St. Astvatsatsin, dates from the end of the 17th century. The smaller St. Gevorg Chapel was originally constructed in 642 by Catholicos Nerses III the Builder, but has been repeatedly rebuilt. St. Gevorg was built over the pit of imprisonment of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. This prison pit is where Saint Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. As reverence for Saint Gregory's act of healing and kindness, the King converted Armenia into the first officially Christian nation in the world in the year 301.

In the mid-1990's, volunteers for the Canadian Youth Mission to Armenia helped renovate/restore the cathedral.


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