Armenia is one of the oldest countries in the world with a recorded history of about 3500 years. One of the most important fields in Armenian history is architecture.
Traditional Armenian architecture, developed early into the middle ages, is largely inspired by Greek and Roman architecture.
Pre-Christian architecture in Armenia
The history of Armenian architecture is, in reality, the history of the development of a single type of building: the church. But we know very sophisticated building techniques were in use in Armenia and a strong architectural tradition in stone was exercised for more than a thousand years before the first church was built.
Unfortunately, only a handful of pre-Christian examples has survived and they are from three distinct epochs: Urartian, Hellenistic, and late Roman. A considerable number of temples and fortified garrison cities are known belonging to the kingdom of Urartu (9th to the 6th centuries B.C.), the most famous examples being the garrisons of Erebuni and Karmir Blur in Soviet Armenia.
At the site of Garni, some fifty kilometers northeast of modern Yerevan, a number of important constructions survive from three different periods. Garni is the only pagan temple in Christian Armenia.
Christian architecture in Armenia
Beside these limited ancient examples and the urban architecture of the twentieth century in the Armenia Republic, Armenian architecture is essentially that of church buildings, thus a Christian architecture. Its productive history spans the period from the 4th to the 17th century.
Though it should be noted that in modern times, especially in the diaspora, churches continued to be built and are now being erected in large numbers, scholars have not yet studied this phenomenon, leaving modern Armenian church architecture rootless and for the moment outside the art historical tradition.
Thousands of Armenian churches were built during the long history of Christianity. They varied in size from very small to large. Some churches were intended to stand alone, while others were parts of monasteries. A large number of types were developed, providing a great variety of exterior shapes and interior volumes.
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