Matenadaran - Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient ManuscriptsMatenadaran - Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts

Please login or register to share your visit !
  • Off the path Explo
    38 %
    Off the path Explo rate
    1.9 / 5
    This is a very singular location... But famous. Cool Explo however!
  • Article Quality
    92 %
    Article Quality rate
    • Score
      5 / 5
      Your description is very complete!
    • Score
      3 / 5
      Useful information and tips are ok! But no plan...
    • Score
      5 / 5
      Yes, 5!
    • Score
      5 / 5
    • Score
      5 / 5
  • Explo Popularity

The Matenadaran is an ancient manuscript repository. 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.

My experience, Explo description: 

The earliest mention of the term Matenadaran, which means "repository of manuscripts" in Armenian, was recorded in the writings of the fifth century A.D. historian Ghazar Parpetsi, who noted the existence of a repository in Echmiadzin, where Greek and Armenian language texts were kept.

In the course of the centuries following the dissolution of the Bagratuni Kingdom of Armenia in 1045, thousands of manuscripts were destroyed by the Turkic-Mongol invasions. According to the account given by Stepanos Orbelian, the Seljuk Turks were responsible for the burning of over 10,000 Armenian manuscripts in Baghaberd in 1170. As a result of Armenia being a constant battleground between two major powers, the Matenadaran in Echmiadzin was pillaged several times, the last of which, took place in 1804.

Eastern Armenia's incorporation into the Russian Empire in the first third of the 19th century provided a more stable climate for the preservation of the remaining manuscripts. Thus, "a new era started for the Echmiadzin Matenadaran. The Armenian cultural workers procured new manuscripts and put them in order with more confidence." Whereas in 1828 the curators of the Matenadaran catalogued a collection of only 1,809 manuscripts, in 1914, the collection had increased to 4,660 manuscripts. At the outbreak of World War I, all the manuscripts were sent to Moscow for safekeeping and were kept there for the duration of the war.

The actual Matenadaran in Erevan was built after world war II. The adjacent research institute was built in 2009-2011.

The Matenadaran's main objectives are first and foremost:
1) the preservation, restoration, and reproduction of the manuscripts;
2) their procurement;
3) the organization and cataloging of Armenian manuscripts;
4) the distribution and publication of particularly historically significant Armenian manuscripts in languages asides from Armenian. In 1941, it began publishing its official periodical, Banber Matenadarani (The Matenadaran Herald) which are accompanied with Russian and French abstracts.

The Matenadaran is in possession of a collection of nearly 17,000 manuscripts and 30,000 other documents which cover a wide array of subjects such as historiography, geography, philosophy, grammar, art history, medicine and science. In the first decades of Soviet rule, its collection was largely drawn from manuscripts stored in ecclesiastical structures in Vaspurakan and Taron, in schools, monasteries and churches in Armenia and the rest of the Soviet Union (such as those located in New Nakhichevan and the Nersisyan Seminary in Tbilisi), the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in Moscow, from the Armenian Apostolic Church's Primacy in Tabriz, the village of Darashamb in Iran, as well as the personal collections given by private donors.

In addition to the Matenadaran's Armenian manuscripts, there is a vast collection of historical documents numbering over 2,000 in languages such as Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Japanese and Russian.

The collection is also composed of 2,500 Armenian illuminated manuscripts, which include such prominent examples as the Echmiadzin Gospel (989) and the Mugni Gospels (1060). Another prominent manuscript in the collection is a 632 page, 80 lb. calendar made out of calf skin, which dates back to the 15th century.

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

My personal recommendations: 

Really impressive and emotional collection

Useful information: 
Open hours: 

Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00am-5.00pm

Visit duration: 

I'm sure if you like it you can stay 4 hours!
I spent 2 hours with a too speedy guide

contacts [at] matenadaran [dot] am