As a regional administrative unit Ararat region of the Republic of Armenia was formed in
1995 and comprises the territories of the former administrative districts of Ararat, Artashat
and Masis. It covers a territory of 2096 square kilometers, has a population of 305 thousand
people and comprises 97 communities and 98 rural settlements (according to the data of
1997) as well as the towns of Ararat, Artashat and Vedi.
The administrative center of the region is the Artashat town. Ascending to great antiquity
it was considered the main center of pagan civilization. Ararat region is situated in the south-
east of Armenia, southward of the city of Yerevan. Being the most fertile territory of Ar-
menia it includes the adjoining verdant valley of the River Arax. The biblical Mount Ararat,
whose highest peak is 5165 meters, appears with all its greatness and beauty. Despite the
fact the mountain is in the territory of Turkey it is the symbol of all the Armenians.
The excavations done in Ararat region yielded the ruins of the town of Dvin. Subsequent
excavations revealed numerous architectural monuments and complexes. The first one was
a monument of the 5th century erected to the memory of Grigor the Illuminator. In its time
St Grigor the Illuminator Cathedral was the largest. Being built in the 3rd century as a dome
staked with a pair of columns, it was reconstructed into a Christian church in the 4th century.
Khor Virap is one of the most famous places of Armenia.
It is the place where Grigor the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years until he cured
Trdat the III. This caused Trdat the III to adopt Christianity and to proclaim Armenia a Chris-
tian country. Even today the visitors to Khor Virap can go down into the underground cell
where Grigor the Illuminator pined in imprisonment. The dimensions of the cell are really
impressive. Due to lack of air circulation it is rather stuffy inside. The cell is lightened with
St. Astvatsatsin Church of Khor Virap was built in the 17th century. It is situated in the
south of Armenia - on the south-eastward highway. It is a sanctuary for many Armenians
and remains a place of pilgrimage though even today wedding ceremonies are held and of-
ferings are made there.