The former name of Vanadzor was Gharakilisa, which means a black church. According to a local legend, a Turkish pasha (whose identity is unknown) enters the city with his army, destroys it, places his troops in the churchyard to spend the night, and he spends the night in the house of the rich man of the village. Before that, the Armenian youths take refuge in the nearby mountains, go down at night and massacre the whole army. When Pasha returned to the church in the morning, he saw the massacred army and said, “Ghara Kilisa, (black church), because you killed our army.” It was about the former church built in the place of Mariam Astvatsatsin in Vanadzor.

The present-day Mariam Astvatsatsin Church was built in 1831 by the famous centurion Piruman Yuzbash Tairov. In the inscription on one of the walls of the church, Yuzbash wrote “I built this church, St. Mary the Virgin, which was left a stone on the stone…”.