Last updated on 23rd July 2019
Places to See in Yerevan City Centre
Despite Yerevan being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, since 4th century BC, it was mostly built after 1920. But still, as new and old buildings still standing, the city has much to offer. The Orientation Walk had covered the main attractions: the Republic Square, the Vernissage, the Northern Ave, the Opera House, the Cascade and Mother Armenia. Also the Genocide Memorial is a real MUST for everyone visiting Yerevan. But Yerevan has a lot more to offer!
City of Fountains – My Top Seven
Yerevan hosts thousands of fountains. Literally. There are the little “pulpulaks”, small water fountains providing cool and fresh drinking water, distributed all over the town. It’s said the water in Armenia is the sweetest and tastiest water in the world. At the anniversary of Yerevan’s 2750th birthday, the city was gifted 2750 pulpulaks. Some might have vanished since, new ones have been added, the total number today should be as high as it was. So there won’t be any problem to survive a hot, dry summers day in the city.
And then there are the big water fountains all over the city. It is impossible to walk the streets without seeing a few of them. They are so plentiful that I could not find out how many there are and where they all are. Here are my favourite seven, those that are most joyful to me:
1. Republic Square. This is the biggest fountain in town, and it is the one dancing with music and lights every evening, in May from 8-10pm, in June from 9 -11pm. I absolutely loved it.
2. Mashtots Park. Several different, playful fountains along the park, some fountains come directly out of the ground so that people can walk inbetween the water fountains, and especially kids like it. Some installations are colourful lit at night and often this is accompanied by relaxing music. For fun, there are plenty of green-grass looking statues all over the park, popular backgrounds for selfies and loved by kids for climbing.
3. Circular Park. There are several different beautiful and big fountains here. A channelled stream runs through the park and feeds several basins with several fountains, flanked by relaxing reastaurants and cafés, shadowed by big trees.
4. Tumo Center. In front of the Science Center near the edge of Hrazdan Gorge, there is a massive fountain surrounded by beautiful flowers. Nearby are popular play and sports grounds.
5. Shahumyan Park. It is loacated inbetween two roads leading forth and back to the Republic Square, shadowed by big old trees and flanked by little open air cafés. The fountains are in the middle of the walkway and create a nice, humid atmosphere, completed by a bigger fountain at the end of the walkway just behind the Stepan Shahumyan monument.
6. Yerevan-2800-Park. Dedicated to the 2800 Anniversary of Yerevan the new park opened in May 2019. The park was gifted to the city by the Vardanyan Family Charity Foundation. It has many different playful fountains, which are lit colourful at night. 250 young trees were planted alongside, and beautiful statues of playing children are erected next to it, perfectly matching all the children coming here every day to get wet. The park is currently the most popular in Yerevan and always crowded. This one is the most fun!
7. Fountain Boat. In the English Park, between the “Yerevan-2800-Park” and the Double Tree Hilton Hotel, there is a park with huge, old trees and a water spraying boat with moving wheels on it. It is a faszinating sight and quite some mindful idea.
City of Monuments – My Beloved Seven
Statues and monuments are plentiful in Yerevan, and very often they are combined with one or more fountains. There is an entire list of the Yerevan monuments on Wikipedia counting more than 100, but this list cannot be complete as it only counts the wise guys cut in stone, and misses out all other statues that Yerevan is decorated with. My favourite seven statues and monuments – and I don’t make a difference between people and animals, decorative or historical background – are those:
1. Big Blue Kiwi and Rubber Lion . Both are in front of the Cascade. I found it fascinating how skillful that rubber lion was made and love this idea of re-using old tires. Nearby are two horses created from horseshoes which are also impressive.
2. Stepan Shahumyan. His monument is at the end of Shahumyan Park south of Republic Square. He was called the “Caucasian Lenin”. The capital city of Artsakh, Stepanakert, is named after him. The way he stands, his arms folded, looking to one side, has something very charismatic.
3. Arno Babajanyan. The wild piano player performs next to Swan Lake at the Opera. This creation is the embodiment of an artist giving the best and losing himself within his music.
4. Gevorg Emin. The Armenian poet and translator is holding an apple and is looking at his cat. Looking at him gives a feeling of kindness, warmth and love. It can be found in Lovers Park. And I love it.
5. Mother Armenia. She certainly the most impressive monument, the female personification of the country with an imperial gesture of threat and warning conveyed by the handheld sword, erected close to Victory Park and overlooking the city.
6. Flower-selling old man. His real name was Stepan Harutyunian. He can be found at Abovyan where it goes into Northern Avenue. His statue is such a cute sight and attached to it is such a heart-warming story that touches people , so they stop for a moment to look at him, and some even bring fresh flowers for his basket.
7. Mother Arisen from Ashes at the Genocide Memorial. Her facial expression, the way she is holding her child and running away from something lets you really feel the horror and harm that she might have just escaped, trying to safe her child.
I must say it was not easy to decide my favourite seven, there are few more impressive and likeble statues, like all around the new 2800-Park, the water selling boy in the English Park, Aram Manukyan at Metro Station of Republic Square, Sasuntsi Davit in front of the train station, Alexander Tamanian in front of the Cascade and Vardan Mamikonian at the Circular Park. But this would be too much here, please go and see and judge.
City of Parks – My Favourite Seven
Yerevan has many parks. I think this is due to the importance of trees in the Armenian culture. Unfortunately, it must be said that all the wonderful parks are in need of maintenance, some more, some less. However, they are enjoyable green islands providing shadow, relaxation and mostly also water, in form of one or more fountains. My favourite seven parks are these:
1. Lovers Park. It is a very small but lovely little green island, located at the Marshal Baghramyan Metro station next to the National Assembly. It has a small waterfall and little lake, cafés for food and drink and many benches for all the loving couples.
2. English Park. Located just across the road of the 2800 Yerevan Anniversary Fountains, this park is the oldest in Yerevan. Massive trees and several fountains offer a cool escape on a hot summers day. Locals typically lie on the grass by the fountain with a book or spend a moment with a friend on a park bench.
3. Circular park. This might be the biggest park area stretching from the Luna Park near the Zoravar Andranik Metro station in the south circular around city centre up to the Cascade. The park is flanked by two busy roads on both sides and a few times a road crosses through. Hence the park is less relaxing but good for activity, fun and excitement. It has many restaurants, bars and cafés, the amusement park Luna Park, sports grounds and the big Multi Wellness Centre, and of course many fountains along the way.
4. Lyon Park with its artificial Lake Vardavar is the only way for peacefull jogging in Yerevan, away from cars and equipped with several pulpulaks for refreshment. I discoverd this after giving up jogging in Hrazdan Gorge. It is quite popular for relaxation in the afternoons and evenings. There are playgrounds for kids and benches for couples, and good chances to meet and greet with other sport enthusiasts. Some people even try some fishing here. The park is 4km south of the city centre half way to Erebuni.
5. Komitas Park. This park is named after an important figure of the Armenian music. It hosts a graveyard of important Armenian people, most but not limited to musicians. The famous Aram Khachaturian is buried here. Attached to the park there is the Komitas museum, which organizes unique concerts. The park is really enjoyable to visit as it is serene and well forested. Despite the big road nearby it is qiet and relaxing.
6. Nansen Park. Nansen Park and Museum alone might not be a reason to climb up to Nor Nork but once there, like me on the way to Garni Temple, it is worth a visit. It is very well forested but trees are still rather young which makes the entire place feel like a jungle. In front of it is the impressive statue of Hayk Bzhishkyan on his horse, a Soviet military commander during the Russian Civil War.
7. Hrazdan Gorge. My impression and feelings about this place are contradictory. The gorge divides the city in two parts, it is quite deep and green, has many trees, whispering or sometimes rushing waters of the river Hrazdan river and steep cliffs. On Tsitsernakaberd hill , away from the memorial, many quiet places can be found to look down onto the river, with flowers around, and peaceful. On the other hand, on both sides of the river are roads and many cars rush through it. The gorge is full of dirt as if it was used as a landfill, some people wash their cars here. Some nice restaurants are on both sides of the river banks but their cooking and BBQ makes the air unbreathable. In summer the gorge is burning, literally! When I came to Yerevan I chose the gorge for jogging but gave up soon due to traffic and pollution. Closing the roads for cars and discourage people BBQing all over the place and imposing hefty fines on dumping rubbish there would be a huge benefit for the beautiful nature that it still has to offer. I went with other volunteers to clean the place, read here.
City of Culture and Science
Museums. I am not a museum person and usually do not spend much time there. But surprisingly I have been to a few museums in Yerevan and guess what, I did like two of them. Let aside the Genocide Memorial museum, one is the Hovhannes Tumanyan Museum. Tumanyan was the “Poet of all Armenians” and also has initiated the first Armenian Opera. His statue is in front of the opera, on the left. The visit was organised by AVC/Birthright and provided a very interesting and good insight. I got hooked, maybe because we had a good guide, and went afterwards to a bookshop to buy one of his books translated into English, as a souvenir. The other museum is the Matenadaran, a library museum regrouping 17,000 ancient manuscripts, written and decorated by hand, hundreds of years old but well preserved. Matenadaran is also a research institute where scientists study those old scripts and learn about history. I have found it really impressive. It is said to be one of the largest collections in the world. Shame I could not read a single word in these books.
Books. Yerevan has been the “City of Books” in 2012 and was enormously proud of it. The city has many bookshops, the one I went to buy my souvenir is at Mesrop Mashtots Avenue near the park. In that bookshop they do not only have books, they also have a piano, and when I was there a lady played all the time nice tunes and I felt that I don’t want to leave anymore. It is a nice combination, books and piano! Apart from the shops there are three libraries in Yerevan, the National library is near the Cascade, and in addition there is a very big kids library, just for children, to be found in Teryan Street opposite to Swan Lake.
TUMO Center for Creative Technologies is a free of charge learning center for teenagers and preteens interested in activities at the intersection of technology and art. It’s a new and innovative learning environment in the form of a giant studio, like a cross between an internet cafe and a vocational center. The goal of the center is to offer thousands of kids (ages 12-18) a unique learning experience. For most of them, that will mean getting intensive exposure to new ways of working, new tools. For others, it will plant the seeds of a career in a competitive field. The center is focusing on areas that are attractive to kids and that also have career potential: digital media, game development, computer animation, web development. Absolutely fascinating concept I must say!
Observatory. I think I found it by accident while cycling around the city. It is hidden in a small park between Teryan and Abovyan Street. The statue of Viktor Hambardzumyan was placed in front of it. He was an Armenian scientist and one of the founders of theoretical astrophysics. He was president of the Armenian Academy of Sciences and there is an international award in astrophysics that bears his name. He founded the Byurakan Observatory on the slope of a mountain in Argatsotn Province when it became clear that the urban environment of Yerevan would not allow scientific research any longer due to pollution. The Byurakan Observatory is in operation til today and can be visited. Unfortunately, I missed out on that as I found out too late.
Music. There is so much music in town. It’s also a City of Music! There is the Opera House and the National Philharmonic Hall staging local Armenian and European operas, ballets and performances. The Opera is the cultural and pass-time hub of the city and absolutely worth to visit a performance which is available for as little as 5000 Dram. We went for an traditional Armenian dance performance and it was amazing! We gave standing ovations. But there is more music in Yerevan, many places play music, like the fountains, there are concerts, e.g. in front of the Opera, there are dances on the streets, actually every last Friday of the month there is open dances at the Cascade and many people join, young and old.
Armenia is well known for its weight lifters, boxers and gymnasts. If chess is considered as a sport then that is what the Armenians are absolute masters at. No other nation plays with such enthusiasm and success. Chess is even a common subject at school, starting in year two or three. Yerevan has several big gyms that also include indoor swimming pools and spa. Despite the hot summers, unfortunately the city has no outdoor swimming pools whatsoever. Football is something Armenians are not very successful in, the last big success was in 1973 when the Ararat Team became USSR Champion. Nevertheless, there are two football stadiums, the bigger one in Hrazdan Gorge, the Hrazdan Stadium, is an ugly blop of concrete, but the older one, the Republican Stadium near the TV tower, is from an architectural point of view quite a nice arena. We went there to see a European Championchip qualifying match between Liechtenstein and Armenia. And Armenia won 3:0!
Houses of Worship
Yerevan has many churches. As an Atheist, I tend to keep my visits to churches to a minimum. However, I have been to several monasteries, and so I went to three places of worship in Yerevan. First was the Blue Mosque at Meshrop Meshtots Ave because of its eye-catching fassade with the blue-ish moasic. The second was the newly built Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral at Tigran Mets because of its impressive size. It’s the largest current church in Armenia with room for 1700 believers at the same time. I like its purity and clarity due the absence of overloading decoration. And the third one was the tiny Katoghike Church in Sayat Nova Ave which is supposed to be the oldest church in Yerevan.
Food-Markets and Drinks
Being for some time in Yerevan, I have learned that the small supermarkets scattered all over the town are not the only source of food. And when it comes to fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, it is better to go to the markets or to specialized shops. Also, there are a few very big well-assorted supermarkets which can be recommended. The best one I think is opposite to the Blue Mosque, the Yerevan City Supermarket in 5 Mesrop Mashotots Ave. And the best market for fresh food with a very good pricing is GUM Market in Tigran Mets Ave. It is just a short walk south from the big church Saint Gregory. This market has two halls. The first usually is quite empty, this is where they offer the dried fruits and also clothes. But behind it ,there is a smaller, second hall, which is very busy, where vegetables , fruit and herbs can be purchased. If this is too crowded, have a look behind the big market hall, there are usually a few traders with their vegetables or fruit, which are less busy and provide the same good quality and prices.
Who eats shall drink. Yerevan has two big buildings of companies producing alcoholics, both well-known and of quality. One is the Yerevan Brandy Factory Ararat producing Brandy, the other one is the Yerevan Noy Wine Brandy Vodka Factory. Both are next to the Victory Bridge above Hrazdan Gorge and both have museums in them which might be worth looking at. I myself unfortunately missed that. Their products can be found in any supermarket. I tasted the brandy and the wine and found it very good!
- Everybody smokes. Ok, many people smoke. Sadly, male Armenians are worldwide leading.
- People are the most hospitable I ever met.
- Yerevan is a very safe place.
- People are connected and care for each other, they form a real big national team.
- Armeninans share whenever possible and offer what they just have. It is rude not to.
- Armenians get up late and stay awake until late night enjoying being out in the cool evening hours. It felt so great being in a like-minded environment.
- Yerevan is full of music and arts. And dance! It’s overflowing with it. “Where there is song, you can safely stay. Wicked people have no songs.” I enjoyed that a lot!
- Armenians are smart and love chess. They all play!
- Armenians have manners. Young Armenians get up in the bus and offer their seat to the elderly or little children.