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Vagharshapat is most populous town in the Armavir Province of Armenia, located about 18km west of the capital Yerevan, and 10km north of the closed Turkish-Armenian border. The city is also known as Ejmiatsin, which was its official name between 1945 and 1995. It is still commonly used colloquially and in official bureaucracy. The city is best known as the location of Etchmiadzin Cathedral and Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the center of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is thus unofficially known in Western sources as a "holy city" and in Armenia as the country's "spiritual capital" (հոգևոր մայրաքաղաք). It was one of the major cities, and a capital of ancient Armenia. A small town by the early 20th century, it experienced large expansion during the Soviet period becoming effectively a suburb of Yerevan. However, its population now stands just over 37,000 based on 2016 official estimates.EtymologyAccording to Movses Khorenatsi, the area of Vagharshapat was known as Artimed (Արտիմէդ), derived from the ancient Greek deity Artemis. Later, it was renamed Avan Vardgesi (Աւան Վարդգէսի, "Town of Vardges") or Vardgesavan (Վարդգէսաւան) by prince Vardges Manouk who rebuilt the settlement near the shores of Kasagh River, during the reign of king Orontes I Sakavakyats of Armenia (570–560 BC). However, in his first book Wars of Justinian, the Byzantine historian Procopius has cited to the city as Valashabad (Balashabad), named after king Valash (Balash) of Armenia. The name evolved into its later form by the shift in the medial L into a Gh, which is common in the Armenian language. Movses Khorenatsi mentioned that the Town of Vardges was entirely rebuilt and fenced by king Vagharsh I to become known as Noarakaghak (Նորաքաղաք, "New City") and later Vagharshapat.Use our Armenia trip itinerary planning tool to arrange your visit to Vagharshapat and any other destinations in Armenia that take your fancy.
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Top Vagharshapat tours
Group Tour: Khor Virap, Noravank, Hin Areni (wine tasting), ancient "Birds-Cave" BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $18
Duration: 9 to 10 hours
Group Tour: Echmiadzin (Mother Cathedral & churches, Treasury), Zvartnots Temple BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $15
Duration: 4 to 5 hours
Half day private tour to Khor Virap BOOK WITH VIATOR FROM $29
Duration: 3 to 4 hours
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Duration: 2 hours
Duration: 30 minutes
Duration: 30 minutes
Duration: 2 hours
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