Completed in 1887, the cathedral of Ghazanchetsots was considered a modern masterpiece at the time of its construction. Architect Simon Ter-Hakobyan, who designed the Ghazanchetsots cathedral, intended the church to resemble Etchmiadzin Cathedral. Sheathed in stone, capped with tall umbrella roofs, and ornamented with crosses, angels, and other sculptures, it is a beautifully coherent synthesis of age-old Armenian building traditions. Rising some 115 feet from its base to the tip of its cupola, it is also one of the largest Armenian churches in the world.
Above: Listen to Mariam Sargsyan and Hovik Hovsepyan share a glimpse of their wedding day at Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, when the sanctuary was strewn with rubble from a missile attack.
The cathedral was built during a period of religious-cultural renaissance. In 1828 the Armenian Diocese of Karabakh, with the help of Swiss missionaries from the Basel Evangelical Association, founded the first printing press in the region. That led to the flourishing of texts on biblical, theological, philosophical, and literary subjects. Prominent philosophers and theologians taught at the Diocesan school, while Armenian women monastics and deaconesses served the community.
Unfortunately, over the past century, the cathedral has been a target of destruction and desecration. During the most recent war, the cathedral was damaged by missile strikes launched by Azerbaijan on October 8, 2020. It was subsequently painted with graffiti and its angel statues defaced. Since the ceasefire, the cathedral’s iconic dome has been removed from the building. Azeri officials have said the changes were part of renovations now underway, conducted without the consent of or consultation with the Armenian Church.