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Matenadaran Matenadaran

To make your trip to Yerevan a truly great one, do not miss out to visit Matenadaran – a world-class museum and a unique treasure trove holding one of the world’s richest depositories of ancient manuscripts and books. Found at the upper end of Mashtots (Prospect) Avenue, in the center of Yerevan, Matenadaran or the so-called Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts is the pride of Armenian culture, rich in historical resonance and inspiration that never fails to dazzle both locals and international travelers. The Armenian culture would be much poorer without this museum.

Matenadaran was initially established in 405 after the creation of the Armenian alphabet in one of the ancient Armenian capitals Vagharshapat (Ejmiatsin). Supported by Armenian king Vramshapuh Catholicos of All Armenians Sahak Partev and the inventor of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots started their activities right from there. Back then the Matenadaran established by them used to function as the main book house.

Founded in 1959, as the State depository of manuscripts and designed by famous architect Mark Gregorian Matenadaran houses samples of Armenian written culture, fragments of parchments and manuscripts (around 17,300 pieces), spanning a broad range of subjects, including literature, medicine, cosmography, history and art not only in Armenian (though mostly), but also in Greek, Hebrew, Latin and many other languages. Many ancient texts exist in their translation into Armenian, so this is an important research library for classical scholars.

The main objective of the museum is to preserve, restore and reproduce the manuscripts and to distribute and publish particularly historically significant manuscripts in languages other than Armenian.

One of the unique exhibits is an ivory framework of the 6th-7th centuries with the Ejmiadzin Gospel of 989 framed in it. Exceptionally interesting are the 28kg manuscript ‘Homilies of Moush’ scribed in Moush in the 18th century and the 15th century tiny book-calendar that weighs 19 gram.

Matenadaran has departments of bibliography and textual studies, old chronicles, medieval chronicles, copying of manuscripts and archival documents. The museum’s storage facility is located on the ground floor and exhibition halls, reading room and card files occupy upper floors. However, only a small part of the miniatures and manuscripts are accessible for public survey. In the courtyard of the museum there is the large, pretty impressive statue of Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet. He sits with a student at his feet and the alphabet on a tablet behind him. Visitors will also see the monuments of outstanding thinkers of ancient Armenia, including Movses Khorenatsi, Anania Shirakatsi, Mkhitar Gosh, Grigor Tatevatsi, Toros Roslin and Frik.

The entrance fee is 1,000 Dram (~$3), and if you want to photograph, get ready to pay a little more. There are also guides to explain you the details.

Working Days/Hours

Matenadaran is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 4.30 pm.

Address: 53 M. Mashtots Ave.
Tel.: (374 10) 562 578, (374 10) 583 292
E-mail: contacts@matenadaran.am
Website: http://www.matenadaran.am/