On the left bank of the Arax River, near the biblical Mount Ararat, on a hill where once stood the citadel of the ancient capital of Armenia Artashat is the monastery of Khor Virap (Deep Well) which name is closely associated with St. Gregory the Illuminator. He was locked in a dungeon by King Terdat III to propagate the new faith in Armenia. He stayed 13 years until the king had proclaimed Christianity as its official religion and Gregory had been appointed as the first Catholicos (Patriarch) of the Armenian Church. The dungeon of St. Gregory is preserved where the hole beside the altar is located.
In the V century a church was built dedicated to St. Gregory and a monastery was founded. Khor Virap became a place of pilgrimage. From 1666 to 1669 the monastery was restored and the chapel of St. Gregory’s Church was rebuilt, the Church of Astvatsatsin was built (Holy Mother of God), a wall was built around the monastery to protect it from various invaders.
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