Yerevan – The Capital
Your first acquaintance with Armenia and Yerevan usually starts at Zvartnots International airport named after Zvartnots temple (7th c. AD). Next you enter Yerevan driving by the Yerevanian Lake. Yerevan is the capital of Armenia and one of the oldest cities in the world. It stretches under the gaze of biblical mountain Ararat and resembles a beautiful gilt bowl to those flying over it. A basalt slab with an Urartu cuneiform inscription, unearthed by archaeologists in the south-eastern part of the city shows the age of Yerevan to be 2783 years old. Modern Yerevan is mostly a rebuilt colorful city with buildings of unique architecture, constructed from basalt, marble, onyx and volcanic tuff stone and it is a contemporary to such ancient metropolises as Akhetaton, Babylon and Thebes, Nineveh and Karkemish.
Yerevan is the present-day capital of a nation that was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion (301 AD), nevertheless during the decades of Soviet “construction” many magnificent Christian cathedrals were demolished here.
The lore has it that Yerevan was built over 7 hills. By the 1860s the city had several districts: Dzoragykh (currently preserved as a historical landmark site), Kond (the Tsirani Tagh), the Old Quarter-Shehar, the New Quarter, the Quarry district (Yerkataghbyur) and Nork? The total population of the city in those days was a mere 13 thousand?
This is Yerevan as we know it today, a city of Christian cathedrals, modern airports, theatres and museums, universities and academies, parks and research labs, squares and industrial sites and, finally, of art-loving and sophisticated people.
Its vast squares, wide streets and avenues, green parks and gardens, blossoming with colors of apricot and cherry trees in springtime, give the city a special charm. Its refreshing fountains offer a coolness in the hot summer days. In the evenings Yerevanians gather around the fountains in the Republic Square to discuss their daily activities and the city?s artists and students enrich the spiritual life of Yerevan for visiting tourists.
The Republic square was built in the 1940s in traditional Armenian architectural style. The arches of the buildings lining the square and the motifs of the bas-reliefs are unique in their conception and resemble the structural shapes of the Armeninan architectural and spiritual monuments of the 10th-13th centuries.
The building of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre was designed by the renowned architect Alexander Tamanian. The design won the Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair of 1937.
Matenadaran, the museum and scientific institute named after Mesrop Mashtots, is the world?s richest depository with approximately 14,000 ancient manuscripts in its collection. Ancient and unique samples of world literature are preserved in Matenadaran (built in 1958), some of them have been lost in the original and are available only through their Armenian translations. The Matenadaran has over a thousand manuscripts in Arabic, classical Greek, Hindi, Assyriac, Latin, Ethiopian, Georgian languages.
Erebouni fortress-museum is housed in the ancient citadel of Erebouni, the predecessor of the present-day Yerevan. Its display includes bronze and iron tools, earthenware, weapons, ornaments and other articles made by Urartu craftsmen which have been uncovered during excavations on the site of the ancient fortress town. A visit to the palace of King Argishti, the founder of Yerevan, is also a point of interest. Remains of fortress walls, temples, water ducts and other ancient structures have left their imprint on the land.
The National Art Gallery has a huge collection including Armenian artists as well as Russian and west European masterpieces. For instance, paintings by Hovhannes Ayvazovski are widely held in high esteem. The Museum of Armenia?s History is in the same place and represents the history of Armenia from ancient times until the present. The Martiros Saryan house-museum on Saryan street has about 150 works. Each painting is a passionate declaration of love from the artist to his native land: Armenia.
Yerevan is in a position to compete with many metropolises of the world with its beautiful and ingenious statues.
The Armenia epic hero David of Sassoun, hero of the national liberation war of the 5th century Vardan Mamikonyan, the founder of classical Armenian music Father Komitas, painter Martiros Sarian. Composer Alexander Spendiarian, the great Armenia poet Hovhannes Toumanian, Sayat-Nova, a bard of the late medieval period, composer Aram Khachatourian, composer Armen Tigranian, architect Alexander Tamanian?.and many more statues and sages you can see in Armenia, that continue to this day to inspire and motivate the inhabitants of Yerevan and cultivate trust toward the future.
During the city tour, tourists will also have a chance to see the Modern Art Gallery, Independence Column, the Tombstone of Alexander Tamanian, chief-architect of Yerevan, who developed the modern plan of the city, a Cascade Complex made of white stone and connecting Victory Park to the Opera House by a unique architectural form. The huge statue of Mother Armenia with its solemn image, symbolizing the independence and power of Armenia, and the Palace of Youth which with its unique shape attracts people?s attention from any point of the city. One can visit The Pantheon, the burial site of many famous Armenians and the unique Museum of Sergey Parajanov, famous Armenian artist and film director, which is situated next to the St. Sargis church on the bank of Hrazdan river. There is also, Tsitsernakaberd, one of the holy places in the city.
The memorial with a flame and the museum devoted to the victims of Genocide 1915 are situated next to the Sports and Concerts Complex. You can also see the Kievian Bridge over the river and many other attractions on Bagramian street: the House of Parliament, the Academy of Sciences, The Palace of President, Constitutional Court, Foreign representations and embassies, The House of Writers and Architects, and many others. The view of Ararat?s summit will guide you during your tour throughout city.
Yerevan preserves the ancient traditions of crafts. Blacksmiths, potters, silversmiths, rug weavers, wood carvers, carvers of stone khachkars all have apprentices in their workshops and studious, that pick the creative skills of the trade from master artisans.
Yerevan is a more beautiful city by night. Hundreds of indoor and outdoor cafes with live music, concert halls and theaters, hotels and restaurants, discos, supermarkets, offices, night clubs and casinos make downtown a favorite place both for city hosts and tourists.
Yerevan has a fine heart that is open for guests. The ancient metropolis never closes its gates. Yerevan seems to be waiting for a miracle, this expectation rises each morning like the sun in the firmament, showering rays of gold and dreams on all of us.