Armenian Church

Armenian Church Hot

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60 Hill Street Singapore 179366
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Listing created by Damien on April 03, 2013    

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Opening Hours:
9am - 6pm

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Bonsai Cathedral?

Armenian Church, 60 Hill Street is a little like a bonsai Cathedral

Houses of worship provide interesting insights into the foibles of people, usually foibles which have jingoistic overtones. This tiny and beautiful church is like a Bonsai version of St Paul's without the whispering. It is a quaint relic of Singapore's earlier commercial raison d’être, which of course, goes hand in hand with the purpose of such places...

To give it its full and impressive name, the Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator was the first Christian church built in Singapore in 1835 and consecrated a year later. Sensibly, it is now a national monument.

Why Armenians? Travel throughout South East Asia and be impressed by what they did. The Sarkie brothers are perhaps the best known with their magnificent hotels in Penang (E&O), Surabaya (Sarkies) and Singapore (Raffles) to name just some. Armenians included a certain lady by the name of Agnes Joaquim who developed what subsequently became Singapore’s national flower: the orchid Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’.

The vaulted interior of the tiny church is simple and compelling. A painting above the altar is of the Last Supper, but I doubt that da Vinci was the painter.

If I had a choice between attending a church and the choice was this delightful place and the impersonal glitz of a City Harvest monstrosity or the bland St Andrew’s just one block away, this would suit me. But after you have enjoyed the tiny place, wander through the garden. There lie the markings from the tombs of the very Armenians for whom the church was their religious focus. These pioneers were not actually buried here. Apparently, a more recent Armenian moved the headstones here from the Bukit Timah Cemetery. They create a Memorial Garden to the Armenians whose influence on Singapore was far out of proportion to the size of their community.

It is worth a visit.

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