Khor Virap

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Khor Virap is a monastery located in the Ararat region of Armenia near the village of Khorvirap on top of a hill. The monastery is one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Armenia and is tied with the life of St. Gregory the Illuminator. In ancient times this site was the location of the former capital city of Artashat and its citadel was located atop the hill. The royal prison was located inside the citadel. The Virap was a dark pit filled with poisonous snakes and insect where they threw in prisoners who were sentenced to death. According to Agathangelos and other historians St. Gregory was also thrown into the pit to suffer torture.

Khor Virap

Khor Virap

Around 642, Catholicos Nerses III builds a small chapel at the pit that resembled Zvartnots Cathedral. In 1662, in place of this ruined chapel, another chapel is built that still remains till today. The opening of the pit, with a ladder leading down into the abyss, is located directly right of the altar within the chapel. The surrounding walls of the monastery also remain standing along with auxiliary structures such as the refectory and the residential cells. The Church of the Holy Mother of God, built at the end of the 17th century, stands in the center of the monastery.

Khor Virap Monastery has been a seminary. In the 13th century, around 40 students were studying to be celibate priests.

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