Throughout centuries, Armenian monasteries have played a great role in the spiritual, cultural and political life of the Armenian people. These holy sites are recognized not only as centers of prayer, but also as scriptoriums where numerous works and translations were scripted, hand-copied and passed on to generations to come. Many of the church complexes represent magnificent and inimitable samples of the Armenian ancient and medieval architecture.
The Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin is the central church of the Catholicosate of All Armenians. According to the historian Agathangelos, it was founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator, with the support of King Tiridates III, in 302-303, in the Armenian capital town of Vagharshapat, in the vicinity of the royal palace.