Etchmiadzin Cathedral is located in the fruitful valley of Arax River, with Mount Ararat nearby. According to the legend, Noah’s ark stopped on the slope of the Mount Ararat after the Flood. The town of Vagharshapat is home to Etchmiadzin Cathedral; the whole of the town including other landmarks such as Saint Ripsime Church, Gayane and Shoghakat Churches are included in UNESCO Heritage Site list.
Etchmiadzin was founded to commemorate the adoption of Christianity in Armenia as a state religion. The architecture of the cathedral represents one of the ancient examples of the early Armenian Church architecture. The Cathedral was built between 301 and 303 AD.
Etchmiadzin is Armenian for "the descent (echnel) of the only begotten (miatsin)." It is so named because of its origins in the miraculous vision of St. Gregory the Illuminator. St. Gregory saw Christ's hand descend from heaven, then strike the land with a gold hammer. The image of a church soon appeared in that location. On that spot, St. Gregory built the cathedral, which he called Etchmiadzin.