Christian History Project. This site contains the text of 12 volumes on the history of mankind over the last 2,000 years written from a 'collectively-denominational' Christian perspective.

Armenian Church |
Armenian church sets a style

Armenian Church is drawn from Chapter Seven, beginning on page 201, of Volume Three, By This Sign of the twelve-volume historical series The Christians: Their First Two Thousand Years. If you would like to order this book please visit

Armenia’s early architects didn’t exactly invent the dome, but they certainly perfected it, and its use in church construction spread as Christianity did, throughout the world

Armenian Church - Armenian church sets a style

Armenian Church - Armenian church sets a style
Considered the quintessential example of Armenian church architecture, the Church of the Holy Cross sits on an island in Lake Van, Turkey. Built in the early tenth century under the direction of King Gagik I, it recapitulates styles that had been emerging for nearly six hundred years. The high cruciform shape (the seventy-foot height exceeds the measure of both length and width) and conical dome (2) are typical of nearly all Armenian churches, ancient and modern. Its exterior is made even more impressive by engravings and reliefs of biblical scenes and saints (including, again, one of St. George) that richly decorate it.

Gregory the Illuminator, national saint and patron of Armenia, gets credit not only for converting the pagan king Tiridates and thereupon the whole kingdom to Christianity, but also for building a church whose influence was profound. A small building constructed of stone in about 301, it was important because of its placement–it marked as sacred the location that today holds a magnificent monastery, one regarded as the religious center of Armenia.

The Monastery of Echmiadzin includes the magnificent cathedral, built in about 480 on the site of Gregory’s smaller church. It is the biggest and oldest church still standing in Armenia, and its construction, with a central domed roof atop a square building, set the pattern for numerous churches in Armenia and elsewhere, many of which have survived for centuries. The basic domed-cube style is usually expanded into a cruciform shape, with rounded additions or apses extending from each of the four walls of the interior square building. The dome structure was known elsewhere long before Christianity came to Armenia, but it was nevertheless perfected there, and its widespread use by Armenian church-builders influenced structures from Russia to Western Europe to the New World.

Although the kingdom of Armenia was divided and parceled out long ago, the result of an endless series of brutal conquests, many smaller churches with their Armenian-style domes and plus-sign construction still stand, on land that is mostly Muslim now.

This is the end of the Armenian Church category article drawn from Chapter Seven, beginning on page 201, of Volume Three, By This Sign. To continue reading more about Armenian Church from The Christians, Their First Two Thousand Years we suggest experiencing the rest of the book, complete with hundreds of magnificent illustrations, by ordering it at