The capital of Armenia, Yerevan, celebrated its 2793th anniversary and is one of the most ancient cities. Naturally, such city rich with culture and history will have a lot to offer to the guests of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2011. To make your stay more comfortable and eventful, here are the best sights of our city.
Get to know Yerevan!
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.
Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country. It has been the capital since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia.
The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I.
The city expanded rapidly during the 20th century as Armenia became one of the fifteen republics in the Soviet Union.
In fifty years, Yerevan was transformed from a town of a few thousand residents within the Russian Empire, to Armenia's principal cultural, artistic, and industrial centre, as well as becoming the seat of national government.
With the growth of the economy of the country, Yerevan has been undergoing major transformation as many parts of the city have been the recipient of new construction since the early 2000s, and retail outlets such as restaurants, shops and street cafes, which were rare during Soviet times, have multiplied.
In 2009, the population of Yerevan was estimated to be 1,111,300 people, more than a third of all the population of Armenia. Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO.
Places to see
The Republic Square
The Republic Square is the heart of the city and the centerpiece of the Armenian beloved architect Alexander Tamanyan. The square is in the form of oval and is in the list of most beautiful squares of the world.
The square is surrounded by a number of outstanding buildings, namely the Government Building, the building of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the History Museum and the National Art Gallery.
The jewel of the Republic Square is the Singing Fountains, the astonishing dance of colors, lights and renowned classic music. The fountains are unique in the whole world and turn the nights of Yerevan into a magnificent open-air concert.
The wonderful mosaic carpet lies in the centre of the Republic Square. 3000-year-old ruins were found under the enormous carpet during the restoration of the square. They are now filled with sand and preserved for future generations.
If you see a loud chain of cars circling the square, don’t be surprised, as there is a tradition for newly wedded couples to visit the Republic square on their wedding day. The 3 circles made around the mosaic carpet symbolise the unity of the couple.
And finally, the square is the spot for many events, including concerts and official meetings.
The Aznavour square is another gorgeous sight in Yerevan. The square is in the form of a semi-circle and is located near the crossroad of Abovyan and Tumanyan streets.
The square was designed in 1924 and was primarily known as the Moscow Cinema Square, in 2001 it was officially renamed after the Honorary Citisen of Yerevan, world-famous singer, songwriter and diplomat Charles Aznavour.
The circular fountains, located in the centre of the square symbolise the twelve signs of zodiac. In addition to that, the square is the usual spot for rock concerts and youth gatherings.
It is one of the most popular important squares in the city and is bordered by a number of prominent buildings, namely the Moscow Cinema, the Golden Tulip Armenia hotel and the Artist’s House of Armenia. Right across the street you can see the Russian drama theatre named after Stanislavski.
The square is particularly important for the fans of the contest, as the Junior Eurovision Song Contest tickets are sold right in there, at the Moscow Cinema.
Delphinium “Nemo” is one of Yerevan’s most interesting recreational centres for children. It is located in the Komitas park. The friendly inhabitants of the centre, the dolphins, are from the Mediterranean sea and were brought to Yerevan from Ukraine.
It’s open to public throughout the whole year. Open-air shows are held in summer, while in winter the shows are organised indoors. The spectator capacity of the delphinium is 900.
The impressive performances include music and dancing programs. And, of course, the main heroes of the show are dolphins and sea cats. The centre also offers an unforgettable opportunity to swim with the dolphins, which, surely, is an exciting experience for children.
Armenian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre Named after Alexander Spendiaryan
The Armenian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Alexander Spendiaryan was founded in 1932 by the main architect of the city Alexander Tamanyan. In 1938 it was named after the eminent Armenian composer Alexander Spendiaryan.
The opening of the theatre gave a new boost for the Armenian opera and ballet. More than 200 works by Armenian and by foreign famous composers have been performed here. Next to the Opera Theatre is the Liberty Square. The statues of the well-known Armenian poet Hovhannes Tumanyan and composer Alexander Spendarian decorate the square.
The square is also the favourite entertainment centre for the Armenians, where people of different ages and interests gather. It is surrounded by a number of cafes, where you can get refreshed after an interesting tour in the downtown.
Next to the Liberty Square is the marvellous Swan Lake, which is turned into an open-air skating rink in winter.
Matenadaran - Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts
Much can be revealed about Armenia by visiting another place of interest, the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, also known as the Matenadaran. It is one of the richest ancient manuscript repositories that holds more than 17,000 manuscripts.
The building of the institute was constructed in 1959 and is located at the top of Mashtots avenue. A number of statues, including the ones of the creator of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots and his apprentice Koryun, stand in front of the institute.
Here you can find manuscripts dating back to 5-6 centuries, works of both Armenian and foreign origins. The colours of the manuscripts are extraordinarily bright and fresh, as the natural paints, mainly the red colour, were extracted from insects spread only in Ararat valley.
One of the most remarkable displays is the manuscript dating back to 8th century, the most sizable Armenian manuscript book (sometimes called the giant book), which weighs 28kg. Another one worth mentioning is the ecclesiastical calendar which has a sise smaller then a passport photo.
The Matenadaran is also a major cultural centre. It presents the entire volume of the Armenian history, as well as the role of the Armenian writers in the world literature and culture of all times.
These Armenian manuscripts full of miniatures preserved their bright colors, since the paints at that time were extracted from natural dyes. That is why while having a look on these unique manuscripts it seems unbelievable that they were originated centuries ago.
If you have already seen Yerevan in all its charm and beauty, and you just want to summarise your impressions and memories, the Cascade is the best place to go in this case. It is located behind the statue of famous Armenian architect Alexander Tamanyan. Standing on the Cascade, you can feel the whole city in your palm.
The Cascade is a complex of seemingly endless white stairs. On its top there is a platform leading to the Victory Park. The marvellous view to the pink city of Yerevan and Mount Ararat can be seen from the platform.
In order to reach the top of the complex one has to climb hundreds of stairs. However, it won’t be as exhausting as it might seem. The stairs are surrounded by beautiful flowerbeds, sculptures and fountains.
On the other hand, those who still deny climbing the stairs can use the escalators inside the complex. The Cascade consists of 5 levels. On each level works of eminent sculptors Lynn Chadwick and Fernando Botero are situated. The first level hosts the Cafesjian museum of arts, with its outdoor sculpture garden stretching in front of the complex.
Well-known for its open-air concerts and fireworks the Cascade is the best place for relaxing not only for the locals but also for tourists and foreign visitors.