Echmiadzin is the holiest city in Armenia and the seat of the katholikos, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It is in the Armavir province, about 20 km west of Yerevan.
The focal point of the town is the Echmiadzin Cathedral, the oldest in the world. It was originally built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator in 301-303, when Armenia was the only country in the world recognizing Christianity as its state religion. St. Gregory had a vision of Christ descending from heaven and striking the earth with a golden hammer to show where the cathedral should be built. He gave the church and the town the new name of Echmiadzin, which may be translated as "the place where the Only Begotten descended".