The Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator is the first Christian church built in Singapore in 1835.
Designed by Irish architect, George D. Coleman, it is considered as one of his masterpieces.
As the number of Armenian families was growing in the early 1830s due to business prospects in Southeast Asia, a place of worship was deemed necessary. In 1833, the land was acquired from the government of the time. A majority of the funds required for construction was raised by Singapore Armenians, as well as Armenians of Calcutta and Java.
On 26 March 1836, the church was consecrated and dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint and the first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Church was gazetted as a National Monument by the Singapore's National Heritage Board on 06 July 1973.
This spiritual place serves as a tribute to the once influential Armenian community of Singapore. They were lawyers, merchants, and entrepreneurs. Famous among them were the Sarkies Brothers who built and managed the Raffles Hotel, Agnes Joaquim who hybridised the orchid Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’ (named as Singapore’s national flower), and Catchick Moses who founded the Strait Times.
The interior of the church, namely the vaulted ceiling and cupola, is based on traditional Armenian Church architecture. The painting above the altar is of Christ and his Apostles at the Last Supper.
As for the exterior, a tall spire tops the building, while Doric columns, bordered by balustrades on both sides, sustain the white portico. The original design, a domed roof and bell turret (also another feature of the Armenian Church architecture), had to be altered for reasons safety reasons.
Writing on the occasion of the consecration in 1836, the newspaper The Free Press commented « …this small but elegant building does great credit to the public spirit and religious feeling of the Armenians of this Settlement ; for we believe that few instances could be shown where so small a community have contributed funds sufficient for the erection of a similar edifice…which is …one of the most ornate and best furnished pieces of architecture.
The Memorial Garden
Within the tranquility of the grounds of the Armenian Church lies the Memorial Garden. The Memorial Garden serves as a sanctuary in honour of the Armenian community, and contains the tombstones of many famous Armenians, including as Agnes Joaquim, founder of Singapore's National Flower, and Catchik Moses, founder of the Straits Times.
The tombstones were transported from the Bukit Timah Cemetery to their present location in the early 1970’s by American-Armenian Mr. Levon Palian, who worked and resided in Singapore at the time.
The parsonage house dates back to 1905 and was built as a home for local resident clergy. Today, it serves as the administrative offices of the Armenian Church and houses the Armenian Heritage Gallery.
Daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
City Hall EW13/NS25
Armenian Ch - Stop ID: 04142
2 / 12 / 12e / 32 / 33 / 51 / 61 / 63 / 80 / 197
Grand Pk City Hall - Stop ID: 04149
2 / 12 / 12e / 33 / 147 / 190