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Phoenix Tour Armenia / Blog & News  / Culture  / Matenadaran

Matenadaran

A highlight of any visit to Armenia, Matenadaran, officially the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts – is a museum, repository of manuscripts and a research institute in Yerevan.

It holds one of the world’s richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books which span a broad range of subjects, including history, philosophy, medicine, literature, art history and cosmography in Armenian and many other languages.¬† The display rooms feature a stunning array of hand-chosen manuscripts that give an excellent glimpse into the rest of the collection.

With over 23,000 manuscripts and 500,000 additional documents, some of the most obscure and ancient texts from the early medieval age can be found at the Matenadaran. There are manuscripts in other languages, from Greek to Ethiopian, and some works by renowned foreign authors that were almost lost to history, and only saved by their Armenian translations at the Matenadaran.

Matenadaran was established in 1959 on the basis of the nationalized collection of the Armenian Church, formerly held at Echmiadzin. Its collection has gradually risen since its establishment, mostly from individual donations. The building was built from 1945 to 1958 in gray basalt and it was influenced by the 11th century Holy Apostles Church of Ani, the grand capital of Bagratid Armenia.

The statues of Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet and his disciple Koryun, are located below the terrace where the main building stands. The statues of the six historical Armenian scholars, Toros Roslin, Grigor Tatevatsi, Anania Shirakatsi, Movses Khorenatsi, Mkhitar Gosh and Frik, were erected on the left and right wings of the building’s exterior. They each represent one field: manuscript illumination, philosophy, cosmology, history, jurisprudence, and poetry, respectively.

An open-air exhibition is located near the entrance of the building. On display there are khachkars from the 13th-17th centuries, a tombstone from the medieval Noratus cemetery, a vishapkar (dragon stone) dated 2nd-1st millennia BC, and a door from Teishebaini (Karmir Blur, an Urartian archaeological site).

The Mashtots Matenadaran Ancient Manuscripts Collection was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program Register in 1997 in recognition of its world significance.

Are you planning  to visit Matenadaran? It takes about 45-60 minutes (without the Persian manuscripts) to complete the guided tour of Matenadaran. Phoenix Tour will gladly reserve your preferred language guided tour. With that reservation, you can skip the line at the ticket office and avoid the guide availability issue. For more information, please contact us at info@phoenixtour.am.

 

Matenadaran
One of the most prominent landmarks of Yerevan, the Matenadaran is located at the foot of a small hill on the northern edge of Mashtots Avenue.
Matenadaran
The statues of Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet and his disciple Koryun, are located below the terrace where the main building stands.
Matenadaran
The six statues of historical Armenian scholars are erected on the left and right wings of the building's exterior.
Matenadaran
Central entrance to the Mesrop Mashtots Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts.
Matenadaran
The Matenadaran interior.
Matenadaran
Every effort has been made to optimize and modernize the means of preserving this invaluable heritage of thousands of manuscripts stored here, and to acquire others as well, still scattered throughout the world.
Matenadaran
Inside, there are more than 23,000 manuscripts, fragments, documents and maps, although only a small number are on display.
Matenadaran
The Central Hall focuses on the development of Armenian medieval sciences, literature and arts throughout the centuries.
Matenadaran
It takes about 45-60 minutes (without the Persian manuscripts), to complete the tour of Matenadaran.
Matenadaran
The smallest manuscript of Matenadaran is a church calendar of 16h century. It's smaller than a matchbox, contains 104 parchment sheets and together with a cover weighs only 19 grams.
Matenadaran
Gospel books from the 11th to the 15th century lead us into the wonderful world of book illumination, mixing gold with bright reds, and whose coating of metal and ornate gold sometimes makes the cover even more spectacular.
Matenadaran
Early Armenian Illuminated manuscripts are remarkable for their festive designs, they make one feel the power of art and the universality of its language.