Yejmiadzin (yĕjˌmēädzēnˈ) [key], Ejmiadzin ĕˌmēädzēnˈ, or Echmiadzin ĕchˌmēädzēnˈ town (1994 est. pop. 64,400), SW Armenia, in the Aras (Araks) River valley. It has winemaking and plastics industries. Known since the 6th cent. B.C., Yejmiadzin (which was called Vagarshapat until 1945) was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Armenia (A.D. 184–344). It also became the center of the Armenian Church after the adoption of Christianity in the 2d cent. A.D. The famous Yejmiadzin monastery has been the residence since 1441 of the patriarch (catholicos) of the Armenian church; inside the monastery walls is the cathedral founded in 303 by St. Gregory the Illuminator. The Ripsin church and the Gayan cathedral (both 7th cent.) have been restored.