Yeah Yerevan

I knew I would need my ‘big girl travel pants’ for Yerevan, Armenia!

It’s a big sprawling city and I would need some help getting around.

So before I left Sevan I bought a local SIM so I could get a phone number. I already had an E-SIM but it only gave me data.

For 2900 dram (Cdn$10) I got 10 GB data, 450 minutes of international calling that was good for 30 days.

Then I installed GG, a local-made ride hailing app (like Uber). I needed a phone number to register.

I had used GRAB in South East Asia, and it was great to book trips when there is a language barrier, and know the cost (or at least have some price to negotiate with).

The marshruska from Sevan left when we were full. And I mean FULL. It was a 3:1 seat configuration, with drop seats in the aisle.

I was in the back corner with my backpack on my lap, sitting four wide, shoulder to shoulder. I was feeling hot and claustrophobic. But only 500 dram (Cdn$1.80).

So happy to get out! But the GG app was offline for ‘updates’, and the taxi wanted 2000 dram (Cdn$7) which was twice of GG. And I didn’t feel like a 40 minute walk with my pack.

The Metro was right there, so for 100 dram (Cdn$0.35) I rode it two stops and walked five minutes to my hotel.

Felt good to use some old skills!

Republic Square is a huge centre in Yerevan. There are big tuff buildings, traffic, and fountains.

Finance & Economy Ministry with the Clock Tower

Marriott Hotel

History Museum of Armenia and National Gallery

Many paintings from the 12-13th century that had originally been in the churches and monasteries.

7th century cross

Door from the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin (1721) is made of wood, mother of pearl and tortoise shell.

Painting of the old trading stalls (1921) with the Blue Mosque

Two paintings from an exhibit of Hrant Tadevosyan (Tatos), People’s Artist of Armenia. The exhibit was dedicated to his 85th birthday.

Unfortunately much of Bronze Age (3000-2000 BC) exhibit was not open.

People first settled in what is now Armenia about 6000 years ago.

Yerevan has 2800 years of history, and is one of the oldest continuously operating capitals – 29 years older than Rome.

Opera Square

Alexander Tamanyan, a Soviet architect, developed the idea of an art centre in the 1920’s.

Work finally started in the 1980’s, was interrupted by the 1988 earthquake, and finished with funding from American-Armenian Gerald Cafesjian.

Cafesjian Center for the Arts is housed in the huge flight of stairs that is called the Cascade.

Nice to see some work from my old friend Botero from Columbia!

Sculpture Garden in front.

English Park

Blue Mosque

Saint Astvatsatsin Church (12-13th century) is one of the oldest historical monuments in Yerevan. It survived the earthquake, and was encircled by the Katoghike Church built in 1693-1695.

In 1936 the Bolsheviks destroyed the new church, revealing the old valuable one. It was seen as a miracle.

The new church behind is Saint Anna (2011-2013).

Charles Aznavour Square

An interesting building on Abovyan Street. Very few of the old ones to survive the Soviets.

Armenian Genocide Memorial & Museum was edge of the city. It was one of the many times I used GG to book a ride. Generally I could go anywhere for 800-1000 dram (Cdn$2-3).

It was built in 1967 to commemorate the massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire 1915-1922.

44 m spire and 13 basalt slabs representing the lost provinces of western Armenia. Land was lost to Turkey in a WW1 peace deal between Turkey and Lenin.

There is also a 100 m wall engraved with the names of the massacred communities.

And a stand of labelled trees from foreign leaders who recognized the genocide.

View of Mount Ararat from the Genocide Museum.

Mount Ararat is in Turkey now but remains a national symbol of Armenia.

There are two peaks. Great Ararat is 5165 m; Little Ararat is 3896m.

Arch of Charent (1957) was designed to highlight the view of Mount Ararat, but it was hazy. Foreground was much prettier though!

This was a stop on a day tour, and a good reminder why I dislike ‘tourist’ spots.

But it was the most efficient and economical way to see Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery.

Garni Temple (77 AD) is the only surviving pagan temple in Armenia. It was dedicated to the sun god. The others were destroyed after Armenia adopted Christianity in 301 AD.

30% is original. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1679, and reconstructed between 1959-1975 with what material was remaining.

For 300 years local builders liked using the basalt for their foundations.

Symphony of Stones is a rock formation down in the gorge.

Looking back up at the Temple from the gorge.

It was a nice day in the mountains, and a relief to escape the 28oC heat in the city.

Geghard Monastery is partly carved out of a cliff.

There were beautiful carvings throughout.

Lavash bread demonstration and tasting preceded lunch.

The first step was increasing the heat of the tandir oven. They added wood and lowered the vent hood to let the smoke escape.

Notice the little hole by the cushion that she will stand in.

The first step was rolling the dough into a circle, then stretching it over the special pillow.

She sprayed the dough with a mixture of egg and water so it would stick to the side of the oven.

Tasting the final product.

Commercial production of lavash.

I did a tour and tasting at Ararat Brandy Company. At lunchtime!

They have been making brandy since 1902. The first step is making a white wine, which is then double distilled and stored in oak barrels.

Armenia has been making wine longer than Georgia, but it’s main product now is brandy.

A 25 ml sample will not spill out of the glass when it’s laid on its side. And it goes beautifully with chocolate.

GUM Market was by my hotel and I overbought, as usual. I have fresh apricots, dried peaches, hummus and bread.

Pomegranate wine is very good.

Summer salad, warm bread and Kharcho (lamb tenderloin, rice, tomato, onion, garlic) and tea for 4900 dram (Cdn$17).

It was more expensive than some places, but very good as my brunch after arriving from Sevan!

Lahmacun and salad for 1900 dram (Cdn$6.70)

Barbecue chicken and vegetables on lavash 1200 dram (Cdn$4.25)

Beef stroganoff with potatoes and pickles. 3800 dram (Cdn$13) as a change from bread!

Tomorrow I leave Yerevan and head southeast to Goris. See you there!

4 thoughts on “Yeah Yerevan

    1. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia are a natural fit to put together. I stayed in some smaller places but many people just stay in the three capitals and do day trips. Solves the problem about transportation but I like a slower pace. Public transportation isn’t great but hiring private drivers is easy. I’ll send you more information.


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