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Revision as of 16:58, 11 February 2013
Yerevan (Երեւան)  is the capital of the Republic of Armenia, one of the three hubs of the South Caucasus and is home to over a million people - the largest Armenian community in the world. In Soviet years Yerevan underwent massive reconstruction, following Alexander Tamanyan's (the architect) new plans to make a perfect city - a Neo-Classical wide-avenues-based town resembling Paris, Vienna and Saint Petersburg.
Central Yerevan is a true jewel of early Soviet architecture. She is also home to some large scale Modern and Post-Modern marvels which are mostly the result of Soviet-Armenian architectural megalomania. In Soviet days Yerevan had already become known as the Pink City as much due to the color of the stone used for building as for the flamboyant spirit of her young population.
Most of tourist Yerevan is concentrated in the Center. The center is very compact and easily walkable, with endless dining and entertainment options. The rest of the city is mostly sleeping or business quarters, so a typical tourist will not have much incentive to leave the center.
Kentron, Center City or Downtown - is central Yerevan, locally called as kentron or just kaghak (meaning 'the city'). This is the heart of Yerevan and indeed Armenia. Though Kentron's architecture is diverse, ranging from Belle Epoque to Soviet Panel blocks, the great majority of the center is in Beaux-Arts tradition. Downtown Yerevan follows Tamanyan's plan for a circular city with two hubs - grand Republic Square, and the more elegant and soft Opera district (Opera house, Freedom Square and the Swan Lake Park). The two are linked with newly-constructed pedestrian-only Northern Avenue. The Main Avenue (standard South European Corso) is still under construction (for last 60 years, though on a greater scale during the last couple of years) and will eventually reach the hill on which the historical Kond neighborhood rests. Kentron is also home to the University City, where the campuses of State University, Medical University, Engineering University, Agricultural University, Economics University, Pedagogical and some other universities come together in one big group. Virtually all of the museums, hotels and popular places to eat and drink are in Kentron, so most visitors will probably not venture much past it.
Barekamutyun - Meaning friendship, Barekamutyun is the area around the metro stop of the same name. This hub is home to Hayastan Hanrakhanut (dept store) which is more of an indoor bazaar than an actual department store. The hub branches off to Kievyan and nearby Komitas streets.
Monument - At the top of the Cascade steps rests the towering monument to Soviet victory in WWII. Directly adjacent is the large construction site of the Cafesjian Museum, which houses a large collection of contemporary art, including perhaps the best glass art collection in the world. Beyond the monument is Victory Park, and the neighborhood around it is known as Monument as well.
Erebuni - In this district is situated ruins of fortress of Erebuni, founded in 782 BC by king Argishti.
Bangladesh - Not to be confused with country in Asia! Not much to offer a tourist, the name however is worth an explanation. At the time this was one of the furthest new districts built in Yerevan, and because of the distance, locals quickly began calling it Bangladesh, which has stuck to this day. The biggest outdoor bazaar of Yerevan is located in this district.
Nor Nork district is the last Soviet project of residential expansion of Yerevan. It entirely consists of standardised Soviet Panel blocs. However, every tourist crosses this district on the way to 'obligatory' Garni temple and Geghard monastery (as the highway to that direction is connected to the main avenue of this district). The main attraction of this district would be the Gay Statue, though the name has nothing to do with homosexuality (to avoid this interesting misunderstanding most often the name of the avenue and statue is Romanised as Guy).
A statue of a woman in a traditional attire in Downtown Yerevan.
Even though the history of Yerevan dates back to the Erebuni fortress, making it at least 2800 years old, little remains of what was small settlement saving the excavations at Hrazdan river gorge, Erebuni, Karmir Berd and Avan. These sites have been excavated, and the artifacts found are in museums today. Being on a strategically important place Yerevan was a constant war stage for rival Ottoman, Persian and Russian Empires. It has been repeatedly ruined by those wars or natural disasters (e.g. an earthquake in 17th century almost entirely destroyed the town). Few buildings of the old Erivan survived to the present-day Yerevan.
At the time of Armenia's independence in 1918, when Yerevan was made the capital of an independent Armenia, Yerevan was a town of just 20,000. Large scale construction began, which took a more holistic approach under the new city plan laid out by Alexander Tamanyan. The plan involved the demolition of much of what existed, in favor of concentric circles, parks, and taller structures. He planned for Yerevan to become a metropolis of 200,000 people.
Michael Arlen, Passage to Ararat, an autobiographical account of an American-Armenian's first visit to Soviet Armenia.
Yerevan is a very homogeneous city, though tiny Yezidi and Molokan (Russian) minorities exist. Because the population of the city was only 20,000 a century ago, the vast majority of the Armenians are immigrants themselves, from all over the world. From the villages and towns of Armenia, from Tbilisi which was the center of Eastern Armenian culture before 1918, from Western Armenia as genocide survivors poured in, and even from the middle east and Europe in a large, post-WWII wave of immigration. Since independence, the city has become the heart of the entire Armenian world, as the divisive communist governments demise has allowed the Diaspora – larger in number than the population of Armenia itself, to embrace the city as its own.
Many visitors will be surprised to know that Armenia is not just an outcrop of Christianity in the Caucasus, but it is the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. The king declared Christianity the state religion in 301 AD. Christianity has been uninterruptedly practiced in Armenia ever since in its own traditions.
The One Holy Catholic Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church, or just Apostolic Church, is the National Church of Armenia. It is very traditional; in practices (but not history) is similar to both Orthodox and Catholic movements as well as to the Reformed Churches, e.g. the Church of England. At the same time the Armenian Apostolic Church has some strikingly different practices, like allowing animal sacrifices or not celebrating Christmas. (On January 6 Armenians celebrate Theophany that is usually mistranslated as Christmas, while Annunciation - the day when the Blessed Virgin Mary got pregnant, celebrated on April 7 - may be considered a better substitute for Christmas than Theophany is.)
The great majority of Armenians identify themselves as Apostolic Christians and have their own Catholicos (religious leader, like the Pope for Catholics). Today, the vast majority of Armenians do not attend church each Sunday, with visits revolving around weddings and baptisms, or occasionally dropping in to light a candle. Soviet restructuring of the city left Yerevan with very few churches: Currently some new ones are being built, and old ones rehabilitated.
The Protestant (Evangelical) Armenians are rather few in number with only one church on Nar-Dos street. Anglican (Episcopal) Christians used to congregate at St Zoravor church for Sunday Eucharist, however shortly after stopped the practice due to extreme small size of the community (and the fact that both Armenian Apostolic Church and Anglican Communion adhere to the concept of one baptism and welcome each others' members to celebrate Eucharist together).
Orthodox Christians currently maintain one church in Kanaker district of Yerevan. A new, large-scale, onion-domed Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Cross is under construction at Yerevan Lake district, visible from the highway coming from the airport. However, this will have mostly symbolic structure as the Orthodox Christians are very few in number.
Assyrians do not have church in Yerevan per se, but rather in the villages around Yerevan.
Yezidi (pagan religious and ethnic minority in Armenia) religious rituals, as most of that religion, are kept secret. So no Yezidian practice can be observed easily in Yerevan.
Muslims are steadily growing in numbers since the collapse of the Soviet State, fueled by the Iranian immigration. There is currently one Mosque on Mashtots Ave.
Many Christian sects are also present in Yerevan, and they congregate in schools, sport clubs, concert halls and the like.
With a continental climate, Yerevan experiences long hot summers, and cold winters, both with little or no humidity. Spring offers mild but sometimes wet weather, and lots of green hills and wildflowers. Summer is very hot, but the long, late nights at the cafes, and the fruits and vegetables are amazing. Fall is the most popular, with perfect weather, and great farm fresh foods.
Most of the sights in Yerevan are concentrated in the center, which is very walkable. Spending a few days visiting the major sights should be enough time, and try to get in a trip to Vernissage flea market on the weekend.
Much of Armenia could theoretically be seen on day trips from Yerevan, but within about an hour of the city are a number of major and worthy trips.
Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery
Echmiadzin Mother Cathedral and museums (plus Sardarabad monument/museum if you have time)
Ashtarak churches, Hovhannavank and Saghmosavank
Khor Virap Monastery on a day where Mt. Ararat is clear
Exploring Khosrov Reserve via Garni - including Havuts Tar Monastery, S Stepanos Monastery, Azat Caves and Kakavaberd Fortress
Smoking may appear to be the national pastime, and indeed, Armenia has one of the highest rates of smoking in all of Europe. To avoid the smoke, stick to restaurants with outdoor seating, let your taxi driver know it is not okay to smoke, and sit near the door when in a smokier café, and ask to have it left open when possible. Some restaurants have non smoking sections, but rarely is there separate ventilation. Yum-Yum Donuts is strictly non-smoking, and Melody café has a walled off section for non-smoking all year round. Artbridge and Twinings have separate rooms for non-smokers .
Opera house of Yerevan.
Zvartnots International Airport (IATA: EVN) is the main gate to Armenia. In 2006, a new terminal was opened, where most arrivals and departures are now based. It remains a smaller airport however, so navigating your way around is easy and fast. Free WiFi access is available in the departure terminal.
Numerous carriers fly to Yerevan aside from Armavia: AirFrance, Lufthansa, Iran Air, Czech Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and the like. Yerevan is connected to all major European and Middle Eastern cities: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Athens, Moscow, Vienna, Berlin, Prague, St Petersburg, Zurich, Minsk, Riga, Kiev, Istanbul, Dubai, Aleppo, Tehran, Beirut and so on. Air Arabia connects Yerevan to the Gulf states, Egypt and India via Sharjah. Armavia reopened the Route Yerevan - Tbilisi - Yerevan again, with two daily flights (July 2011)
Between the airport and the city
Zvartnots is only 14 km from Yerevan city center by road.
A public bus N107 is available during the day-time for about $0,7, which will take you to the Opera House in central Yerevan.
A taxi ride from the airport to the city will cost from AMD 3000 ($10) to the center, and up to 5000 ($16) for the most distant parts of the city. Some drivers may try to convince you to pay more, but don’t ever believe them, and telling them you will call the police (who will help you) should straighten out any opportunists. Almost 100% taxis are using a taxi meter (sheochik), so, the best if you have local currency with you to pay for the trip.
For your safety, use taxis that are official transporter of Zvartnots Airport - AeroTaxi. . These cars are adapted for passengers' comfortable and safe journey, and in case of losing your baggage, you always know where to find it. Do not agree on a flat fee, but insist on the meter being used (and switched on), even with AeroTaxi.
You can book a taxi on-line and be sure that your driver is waiting certainly for you. There is no need to ask for a taxi at the stall inside the airport, the taxis are just outside the door.
An overnight train runs daily from Tbilisi in Georgia. After departing at 7PM the journey takes twelve hours, estimated arrival time in Yerevan is 7:18AM, however delays are common. Border formalities will be at 11PM, expect it to take some time. The wagons are the standard Soviet era hold-overs but the they're fairly comfortable. Bring your own food and water as there is no restaurant car onboard. Fares starts at 49 laris for second class.
Overnight trains in the winter depart at 20:20 or 22:00, you should check at the station which time is valid for any day. The journey takes approximately 11 hours. The cheapest seating place in "obschij vagon" is 22 lari, but you may find yourself being seated among hundreds of boxes of mandarins and other fruits, since this is one of the ways of moving goods to Armenia.
Notice that during the summer months this train runs from Batumi instead, arriving at 9:40PM in Tbilisi. It takes around 10 hours from there, border formalities are uncomfortably around 2 am. Visas can be bought at the border for 3000AMD or $10. Snacks/water "gifts" will be provided on the train.
Options include arriving into Armenia via Georgia or Iran. A drive to Yerevan from Armenia-Iran border will take approximately 6 hours, and is a great way to explore Southern Armenia, cities like Meghri, Kapan, Goris, Sisian, etc.
Arriving from Georgia will allow you to drive trough Northern Armenia and driving to Yerevan will take 4-5 hours.
Highways are high standard, although sometimes can be narrow (1 line to each direction) due to mountainous land shaft.
You can reach Yerevan by bus from Tbilisi, fare costs 15 lari ($10US) and takes about 12 hours. More expensive is to take a 30 lari ($20 US) marshutka/minibus but it’s much faster at about 5 hours. Sometimes you can take a shared car from Tbilisi as well. Again, a bit more expensive than minibus, but faster and more comfortable.
Bus service to Yerevan also is available in Istanbul, or many of the cities on the Black Sea coast of Turkey en route to Yerevan, with a detour through Georgia.
In Yerevan some of the bus lines from Turkey are: Karbut Tour: +374-10-54-26-97 and Oz Aybaki +374-10-56-50-03.
Yerevan Central Bus Station: Armenia, Yerevan, Tsovakal Isakovi Ave., 6 Building, Tel: +374-10-565370
The center of Yerevan is very compact and easy to get around by foot. Watch your step, however, as construction sites, potholes and aggressive drivers abound. Make sure to be careful especially while crossing the street. In Yerevan, Armenia (and many other places I am sure) the drivers may tend to be very distracted when driving and don't pay attention to the road, especially to jaywalkers. Be aware, that there are recently introduced penalties for jaywalking and crossing the streets in non-designated areas, and once spotted by police, you will have to pay a fine of AMD 3000 ($9).
The metro system in Yerevan is quite reliable and relatively modern, having been built in the early 1980s. It is the quickest way around town, and at 100 dram (less than US$0.30), the cheapest aside from walking.
Yerevan City Hall
Today the metro operates as a single line, with a shuttle branch and covers 12km (7.5 miles), with trains running every five minutes from 6:30 a.m. till 11 p.m. Due to Yerevan's uneven landscape, the metro in some cases goes above ground. Continuing the tradition of all ex-Soviet underground systems, most of the stations are exquisitely decorated, often blending Armenian national motifs with late-Soviet architecture.
More than a hundred minibus (marshrutka, pronounced mar-shroot-kah) routes exist that criss-cross the city and travel to the suburbs and beyond (such as to Georgia or Karabagh). At 100 dram (US$0.33) a ride in Yerevan, they are a bargain. The minibuses are often overcrowded, and you may find yourself standing, crouched without a seat during rush hour. The route number is displayed prominently in the window, along with Armenian text listing the major landmarks and streets of the route. The Opera (ՕՊԵՐԱ) is an easy Armenian word to recognize on these signs, and is the main crossing point of many of the lines. When you want to get off, you should say “kangnek” or “ijnokh ka” for the driver to hear, or else, just say “stop” in English. The numbers of the minibuses are written on the bus stations though and the webpage of the tourist information has the whole list with destinations. Pay when leaving a minibus.
By bus or trolleybus
Yerevan has a few trolley lines and buses, operated by "Yergortrans." The fare is very inexpensive (50 dram, nearly $0.15) and the vehicles are not too crowded. Pay when leaving a bus or trolley.
Abundant throughout the city, a taxi ride anywhere downtown should not cost more than 1000 dram (US$3). Almost all taxis with company names on the sides have meters, and prices tend to be competitive among taxi companies. To flag an empty one down on the street, just hold your arm out and pat your hand in the air, if they’re free they’ll stop. Taxis without a logo on the side tend to charge more, and may to try to get more out of foreigners. To avoid being ripped off, either call a taxi from a big company or head for the most modern looking ones which usually have a meter. Make sure that the driver switches it on when you start and politely remind him to do so if he has "forgotten" it. If taxi has meter and the driver hasn't turned it on, in most cases passenger can not pay for the trip. Carry some coins to prevent the drivers from telling you that they have no change on them. Standard price is a minimum of 500-600 Dram for the first 5 km and than 100 Dram for every further km. A car and driver can easily be rented for day trip outside of Yerevan, for as little as $20 plus gas.
Beware of moonlighting "taxi" drivers at the airport who will try to charge you ridiculous amounts (20,000 dram or more) to get to the city. Finally never ever believe any taxidriver who wants to convince you that there is no bus or minivan to the destination you are heading to.
Erebuni Fortress – the excavations, recreations and museum of the nearly 3,000 year old fortress that established Yerevan. Fairly well (and maybe the best) preserved fortress of Urartian Period in Armenia.
Republic Square, the western (older) part
Republic Square - Make sure to see the main square. Though it never took the planed shape of the Grand Square of a perfect city of Tamanyan, it still can be considered the finest example of Soviet era architecture as far as squares go. The early buildings (the Houses of Government, the Ministry of Communications, and the Marriott Hotel) are fine example of Neo-Classical architecture with Armenian hints. The buildings from later period (the Foreign Ministry, and Art Gallery) are Modernist imitations of previous ones.
Northern Avenue - impossible to miss, this pedestrian avenue was just opened in 2008 connecting Opera with Republic Square, the two hubs of central Yerevan. It's a Post-Modern response to post-WWII Soviet Yerevan architecture. It is emerging as the shopping district, together with Sayat-Nova ave., Terian st., Tumanian st., and Abovian st.
The Opera House
Abovian street - It's home to very few remaining Belle Époque period structures of Republican Armenia. Some gems of Art Nouveau, early Modern (constructivist and the like), and Moorish Revival style can be found in the backyards of Abovian, Nalbandian, and Hanrapetutian streets. Most often they are in a very poor condition due to neglect. Hanrapetutian st. might get a special attention if you are not time constrained.
The Opera – It's the 'soft' center of the city. It is topped by the magnificent building of the Opera House. The building is perhaps modeled after SemperOper of Dresden, however it is supposed to be double as beautiful as the Yerevan building is two sided: One side (entrance from the Theatrical/Freedom square) is home to Opera and Ballet Theatre, while the street side houses the Khachaturian Concert Hall.
Freedom (or Theatrical) Square is part of The Opera. North side of the square is the Opera House, followed by a park full of open air cafés on the West, from South it borders the Northern Avenue, and on the East the square slowly transforms into park with Swan Lake. The Swan Lake park ends with the controversial statue of the composer Arno Babajanyan, which already was majorly reshaped twice during the first year of its placement. The Swan Lake park usually hosts various open air art exhibitions.
Cascades, Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Museum – The Sculpture Park is a small green zone in the immediate North of The Opera. Sculptures from Botero and other artists of international fame decorate the Park. The park itself is part of Cafesjian Museum - the Armenian version of Guggenheim. The main part of the museum is in the Cascades - an Art Deco version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon stretching nearly the height of the Empire State Building. It's a massive white stairway up a hillside of central Yerevan, decorated with green stretches, fountains and waterfalls. Higher level of the Cascades give a spectacular view of Mount Ararat and panorama of central Yerevan with it's hilariously multi-colour roofs. The first floor and the bookstore of the museum as well as the indoor escalators to the top of the Cascades are free of charge.
The Cascades (fragment)
Mashtots avenue - It's the eight-lane highway in the center of the city which somehow also accommodates a pedestrian zones on the sides (result of standard Soviet planning of main 'Prospekts'). It is overly noisy because of the heavy traffic (mostly unorganised public transportation) but the parts close to The Opera is a favourite hangout place for the locals. There are 3 buildings on the avenue which are well worth attention - Matenadaran, and the Blue Mosque.
Matenadaran– Houses the worlds largest collection of Armenian illuminated manuscripts, and one of the largest such collections of any kind in the world. A display room has a sampling of some of the finest works, and the additional cost of the guided tour is worthwhile. The building is dug into the hill and can withstand a nuclear attack.
Blue Mosque - is an 18th century Shia Islamic Mosque, one of the extreme few surviving structures of once (before Soviet secularisation) prospering Muslim Community of Yerevan.
Covered Market - It's an original building, a combination of Jungenstil and Beaux-Arts. It still houses a market of fresh, sun-dried and conserved produce.
Main Railway Station is a Neo-classical building, small scale version of Soviet skyscrapers such as Moscow State University or Warsaw Culture Palace, with a red-star-topped high spire serving as a symmetry axis. The Railway Station building dominates the David of Sasoun Square which has the statue of David of Sasoun (hero of the Armenian epic tale) as a centerpiece. The state itself is worth seeing (some would claim more than the building): It is the masterpiece of Kotchar - the mastermind of Cubism driven Dimentionalism movement in Armenia - a very dynamic Equestrian statue. The metro stop 'Sasuntsi David' opens into the square. Unfortunately, the square, the building and the statue are in a measly condition now, as the blockade-driven underusage of the railway left the place unattended.
Victory Park/Monument - Amusement park. Features a huge monument of Mother Armenia as well as some Soviet military equipment on display. Very nice view of the city center.
Lover's Park - the oldest park of Yerevan. Recently renovated in tradition of Japanese landscaping with Armenian spirit. It often hosts open air art exhibitions and concerts. It is best reachable by metro, station 'Marshal Baghramian' - perhaps the most underused building and allegedly the best in Modernist style.
The Singing Fountains
Children's Park - This is yet another beautiful remnant of Soviet urban planning in Yerevan. The park, opened in 1937, is situated in a gorgeous canyon of Hrazdan river and features a Children's railway. The park was renovated in 2012, so the "ghost park atmosphere is not that present anymore. In order to find it you will need a direction from a local.
The Singing Fountains - From early Spring to late Autumn each evening there is a fountain and light show in front of the Art Gallery at the Republic square. The program includes some classical favorites, as well as contemporary Jazz, Rock and Pop (US or Russian). Usually it spans from 10pm to 11pm. It is free of charge.
Parajanov Museum - The House-Museum of Sergei Parajanov, a famous Soviet film director. The museum is best known for special Parajanov collages and art that everybody loves and enjoys. It is equally highly appreciated by children, teenage and most demanding art critic. Many highest level official informal meetings are conducted here. The entrance is about 2 euros and the guided tours are offered for about 8 euro. It is a must to see!
Saryan Museum If you are a lover of bright colours and enjoy Expressionist Art then House Museum of Martiros Saryan is a place for you. It's a 3 floor structure, built during the lifetime of the artist, as his house and house for his heritage after his life. So most of the Museum is designed by the artist himself. Address: Saryan 3, EVN002.
Cafesjian Museum at the Cascades
Cafesjian Museum of Modern Art is a museum of modern art, house to the collection of Gerard Cafesjian. It has Arshile Gorky, Andy Warhol, Marc Chagall and other big names on display. The collection is very rich in Glass Art, has many pieces of Libenský-Brychtová couple, including special-made "For Armenia" series. A separate floor is devoted to Swarovski Chandelier collection. The inside elevator is opened 8-20, the exhibition halls are opened until 5pm on weekdays and until 8 on weekends.
The National Art Gallery - Located at Republic Square in the same building as the National History Museum. Features several floors full of mostly paintings, organized by their country of origin. The Armenian collection is the best and of very high quality, the Russian is quite good (Kandinsky, Serov, Chagall), and art lovers will enjoy the European collection as well.
The Armenian Genocide Memorial (Genocide Museum & Tsitsernakaberd Monument) - Located on a hill above the city center. A very austere monument dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. Worth seeing. Tsitsernakaberd (meaning "Fortress of swallows") is probably best reached by taxi. Genocide Museum is home to French artist Jean Jansem's startling collection of paintings named Génocide. NOTE: The museum is under reconstruction and temporarily closed until 25/01/2013
The City Museum of Yerevan - presents all periods of the life in Yerevan starting from paleolithic settlements (50000 years) to modern days. Ancient maps and the pictures of the lost city, pre-Soviet Erivan, are of special interest.
Museum of Woodwork houses some artifacts of Armenian historical wood carving culture (doors, furniture and the like) as well as wood-based sculptures of modern day artists. Situated at the address Paronyan 2 (at a ring border of downtown).
Churches in Yerevan are open from early morning till very late evening. There is no entrance fee ever charged. If you manage to find the priest you can ask him to bless you and any object (of non-violent usage) that belongs to you (including friendship and other relationships).
Katoghike is the oldest surviving church of Yerevan. It is a tiny structure constructed in typical Armenian style. Currently, the area of Katoghike (also named St Holy Mother of God) church is under construction: It is planed that a white stone based St Anne Monastery will be built, of which Katoghike church will be only a minor part. On the crossroads of Sayat-Nova ave. and Abovian st.
St Gregory Cathedral
St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral was completed in 2001 to commemorate the 1700th anniversary of Armenia as a Christian nation. The holy relics of St Gregory the Armenian were given back to the Armenian Church by the Vatican in 2001 and placed in this cathedral. The building is a megalomaniac exaggeration of traditional Armenian Church Architecture. As opposed to all other churches in Yerevan (and Armenia) the Cathedral is full of light and does not carry any stand for candles. The candle-house is a separate structure next door. However, the complex is vastly and visibly unfinished. Not far from the Republic Square (visible from there).
St Sargis Vicarial Church is at the border of the city centre, on a picturesque gorge of Hrazdan River. From the Victory Bridge (or alternatively the Brandy Factory building) there is a beautiful view on the church and surroundings (structures of different shades constructed in immediate proximity to the church during the Soviet years of forced secularisation). The church is always crowded. Usually there are also many young people as St Sargis (or St Sergius in Western churches) is the patron saint of young people and of lovers.
St Astvatsatsin of Nork is the replica of a beautiful 18th century St Holy Mother of God (Sb Astvatsatsin in Armenian) church destroyed during the Soviet years of forced secularisation. Because of the sudden death of the benefactor the church complex was never finished. The most convenient way for reaching the church is using Yerevan funicular. The funicular itself is a special experience. However the church is not immediately next to the funicular stop so you may need some help of the locals at the end. The entrance to funicular is at the crossroad of Nalbandian and Charents streets. The church is in the Nork district of Yerevan - the sleeping quarter of rich.
The Ararat Cognac Factory – The oldest factory in Armenia. Offers tours and tasting.
AquaWorld – a water park which is popular with the locals in the summers.
L'atelier Restaurant Salon Imperial Russian Antiques  at the address Mashtots 37, near Opera.
Levon's Amazing Underground World – see what happened when Levon set out to dig a potato storage cellar for his wife, you won’t be disappointed.
Old carpets at the market
For music fans, attend cheap and excellent performances at the Opera and/or the Chamber Music Orchestra. If a national dance group is performing, don’t miss it.
Spend a late night at a café in the Opera park. Station yourself by the sidewalk at Melody Café for some of the best people watching in Yerevan.
Chill out in Yerevan Green Belt. The most popular among the locals are the Paplavok Park (near Moscovyan and Teryan) and the Czerny Fountain Park (near Sayat-Nova and Khanjyan)
Visit one of the themed restaurants in the Hrazdan Gorge to see the locals partying. The food does not tend to venture far from barbeque and crayfish, but it is usually good barbecue, and the prices range from very reasonable to the unreasonable. Check the prices on the hard liquor and wines before ordering a bottle if you’re price sensitive.
Climb the Cascades (or take the escalator inside) one evening for the great views of the city and Mt. Ararat, then head across the street to the amusement park inside Victory Park for some cotton candy and a ride on the rickety ferris wheel.
A walk through the weekend Vernissage a block east of Republic Square metro through the park is a must. From rugs, souvenirs, instruments and paintings, to pets and chemistry supplies, this outdoor market seemingly has everything.
Catch a concert on the Cascades or the Lover's Park , and an art exhibition at Swan Lake park or Lover's Park.
Do not miss an evening with the Republic square Singing Fountains, 9-11p.m.
Ice-skate with many locals at the Swan Lake (next to the Opera House) during winter months.
Medical Procedures - Yerevan offers some world class medical treatments for fraction of the price in the west. The most common are heart surgeries, fertility treatments, nose jobs, hair removal and laser eye surgery.
Vardavar is the pagan holiday of water (currently a church holiday). It is a summertime movable feast that is mostly enjoyed by virtually everyone, grown and child alike: litres of water is poured on everyone by everyone. Some parks have administered events. 15th July 2012.
Trndez is the pagan holiday of fire (currently a church holiday). It is observed on the February 13. Huge bonfire can be observed in each courtyard with people merrily singing around, youngsters jumping over and the like.
Yerevan Birthday is celebrated on the second Saturday of each October. That's usually a huge event, with central Yerevan being pedestrian only: Many stages all over the city for theatrical or music (usually thematic - ethnic minorities, folk, jazz, rock, pop, classics and the like) performances with a culmination on Republic square.
Golden Apricot is a fairly well established international film festival, usually held in July. Armenians take pride in it.
ReAnimania is an emerging international animated film festival. It is held in Autumn.
For a schedule of events taking place in Yerevan, go to yerevanguide.am  website.
Diaspora Armenians may obtain a residency permit to live and work in Armenia without a problem. The 10 year visa/permit for $350 is the best deal. Non-Armenians should have an invitation, or establish a business to get a work/business visa.
Volunteering in Armenia may be a suitable for those wanting the experience. Armenian Volunteer Corps  can organize a volunteer placement and visa for you.
For those of Ethnic Armenian Descent, there are programs such as Birthright Armenia , which will pay for your trip if you participate in their program.
Tutoring in English is always an option for native English speakers. Demand to learn English, and practice English conversation is high.
Armenian brandy (locally called Cognac as well) is considered one of the world's finest brandies and is accordingly a popular gift to take home for tourists. It was actually Winston Churchill's brandy of choice. There are many stores within central Yerevan center devoted solely to brandy from the Ararat Cognac Factory; the airport is also a good place to stock up at duty free. As a rule, the more aged the brandy, the more refined the taste and the more expensive. But regardless the series of brandy, in Yerevan it will be an excellent value.
Armenian rugs, new and old are a favorite choice. New carpets can be purchased at the Mergeryan Rug Factory for a good price. More upscale is the international brand “Tufenkian Carpets”, with a shop on Tumanyan near Abovyan. Both will add your name or inscription request into an existing rug, or do a custom rug for you. There is no problem with exporting these. Old rugs are found in stores all over town, or in Vernissage. Be sure the seller obtains an export certificate from the ministry of culture for you – or you’re taking a chance that it may be confiscated. Negotiate to have the certificate delivered to you as part of the purchase price, and buy your rug a week before you go to give them time to obtain this certificate. New rugs do not require certification, but keep your factory certificate as proof that it is new.
More fragile, but maybe worth the effort are some of the more exotic jams and preserves made in Armenia. From walnut preserves, to “Sea Buckthorne” (Chichkhan), virtually everything that grows in Armenia is canned!
Dram (AMD) is a national currency of Armenia.
As of December 2012:
1 USD = approx. 410 AMD
1 EUR = approx. 545 AMD
The rates can vary. Check  for the most recent rates.
When arriving in Zvartnots International Airport exchange only 20-30 USD for taxi or airport service as the exchange rate at the airport is always poor. Exchanges can be found all over the city, and do not charge a commission – count your money on the spot, though they tend to be patently honest. Banks tend to be the least convenient place to exchange, and tend to have the worst rates – exchange on the streets. Exchange rates on the streets are almost all quite competitive, so shopping around is only worthwhile for very large amounts. Stores and restaurants will frequently accept dollars in a pinch, though they prefer dram.
Cash (in dram only) can be withdrawn from numerous ATM's located in the city, but you may have to try several machines before getting money. Try local banks (like Ararat). HSBC ATM's usually refuse to recognise non-Armenian cards. Though VISA and Master Card are accepted in many restaurants, supermarkets and shops in Yerevan, carry some cash. To withdraw dollars from your credit card, you can go into a bank.
Stands selling Armenian-style "pizzas" called "lamehjun" or "lahmajoun" are prevalent throughout Yerevan. This cheap snack consists of a thin layer of dough topped with an herb and meat paste.
Design cafe a place to eat and relax, signature interior, delicious food, perfect service, Internet cafe second hall, free high speed WiFi. St. 42 Toumanyan, near Yerevan State Lingustic University. Lunch time discounts 15%. email@example.com, +37410 531333
Dona Bakery The underground Dona bakery located on Mesrop Mashtots avenue close to the Matenadaran offers delicious pastries, both European and Armenian. A good place to catch an inexpensive snack.
Jazve Cafe Lunch and appetizer menu. Watch out for its misspellings on the menu. Jazve's wonderful costumers can correct it, but, sadly, they don't get paid. There are plenty of these cafe's across Yerevan.
Khingali, on Tumanyan next to Mer Tagh (above) has excellent khingali (dumplings) with meat or cheese filling. Either can be served boiled or fried. Tumanyan St. west of Abovyan.
Lagonid is a Middle Eastern restaurant with sandwiches starting from $3. On Nalbandyan St. north of Sayat Nova.
Mer Tagh is a small lahmejun joint on Tumanyan, and their lahmejuns have a big following. Tumanyan St. west of Abovyan.
Anteb a family-run joint that serves a huge variety of kebabs in a very casual cafe-type setting. The Adana and Urfa are a bargain at about 800 each and the Iskender, though slightly more expensive (3000) rivals the best. The rice pudding is pricey but tasty. Cheap drinks and free lavash. On Koghbatsi Street, between Pushkin and Aram Street.
Artbridge. The food strong on breakfasts and lighter fare. Specifically, the French toast is a must. A nice selection of foreign language books and Western periodicals if you are desperate for some new reading material. Abovyan St. north of Tumanyan St.
Artashi Mot is considered by many to be the finest khorovats (BBQ) joint in Armenia. Judge for yourself, but not before trying the horti (beef) and sunki (mushroom) barbeques. They are both delicious, when they have them. Other nice alternatives include the fish barbeque and the piti soup. Whichever barbeque you get, get some of the tomato sauce mix that Artash makes to put on your meat, or just to dip your bread into. On Spendiaryan St, across Mashdots Ave. from the Opera.
Cactus Mexican restaurant, located near the Opera off Mesrop Mashtots Avenue. The food is decent imitation Mexican with all the usual dishes - burritos, tacos, etc. The prices are a bit steep by Yerevan standards, but not that expensive for Western travelers. The décor gets an "A" for effort. 42 Mastots Ave.
Café Central a solid place for a meal, reminiscent of a Viennese café. Abovyan St., south of Moscovyan.
Caucasus (Кавка́з), on Hanrapetutyun near Sayat Nova. Extensive menu of Caucasian dishes in 5 languages plus photos. Starter ~1000 AMD, main dish ~2500 AMD. You can order fish straight from the aquarium.
Charentsi 28 is a fully restored two-story house turned restaurant, serving a variety of dishes from Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, Western Armenian, to continental cuisines. They manage to do all of these justice. There is also seating outside in the summer and fall, on the balcony or front-yard courtyard. Starters ~1200 AMD ($3), main dishes ~2600+ AMD ($7+). A 10-15 minute walk from the Opera House, across the German Embassy.
L’Orange has great service and a good menu. 21 Tumanyan St.
Mer Gyugh. Traditional Armenian cuisine with a village atmosphere. Located on Sayat Nova, west of Teryan Street. The chicken "Ararat" comes with a dried fruit pilav that is quite a treat! Menu items are often unavailable, so have a backup in mind when ordering. The restaurant often features traditional folk music in the evenings.
Old Yerevan (Hin Yerevan) has traditional foods, song, dance, and the décor will make you think Disney has come to town. Almost a must for any visitor. 2 Northern Ave.
Al Leoni (on Tumanyan just west of Parpetsi) and Hotel Yerevan (on Abovyan) for some fine Italian dining.
Dolmama – fusion Armenian-World cuisine. Excellent food, service and ambiance. The outdoor seating out back is a way to experience the old courtyards that filled central Yerevan in the past. 10 Pushkin St.
Rossini - central location, Italian Executive Chef, European and Armenian cuisine, customer oriented staff, elegant and relaxing atmosphere, extended wine list, free Wi-Fi. Open 7:30 - 23:30. Tel.: +374 10 591 608, 14 Abovian, Golden Tulip Hotel.
The Club has some excellent Western Armenian dishes, including manti, su borek and the amazing midia dolma. The underground space is very hip, and the tea room, when not too smoky is a great place to sit on a bean back and chat. For a budget option, you can order one of their very filling thin crust pizzas, starting at $5. 40 Tumanyan St.
Armenia itself is a place to drink, with no prohibition against drinking in public. Cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs and the countryside on a picnic are all popular places for vodka, the usual drink of choice, with wine, beer, champagne and brandy all popular as well. You can even drink in a car – as long as you’re not driving. Drivers cannot have a drop of alcohol in them, with Zero being the legal threshold – and the penalties for violating this are stiff.
Places for a drink
The most popular places to drink in the summer tend to be outdoor cafes and café/restaurants. The cafes by the Opera and Republic Square are always packed.
Cheers Pub Yerevan (3, Abovyan Street) is the most popular bar for tourists, locals and the ex-pat community. Cool drinks, great music and friendly/multilingual staff.
Bars such as Tro's Pub (Saryan 5 St.), Troll Pub , Calumet are popular spots with visitors. Dolce Vita bar of Hotel Yerevan (Golden Tulip, 14 Abovian) open round the clock.
Popular nightclubs are mainly in the center, with longtime standby’s such as Atlantic, Relax, Astral and Club One usually full on the weekends.
Like mentioned before, "Jazzve Cafe" is also a wonderful place to meet up with someone For a drink make sure to try is wonderful strawberry coffee as that is a drink like no other!
Drinks to try
Cognac – see the buy section above.
Homemade fruit vodkas – these are not flavored from fruit like most of the western vodkas, they are actually made from pure fruit. The most popular is the Tutti Oghi (Mulberry Vodka), but just as impressive if you can find them are the Cornelian Cherry (Hon), Pear, Apricot and Peach.
Wine – Areni grapes are only grown in Armenia, which is in the oldest grape and wine producing part of the world. Old Yerevan is the best brand.
Compote – if you can get it, this usually home made fruit juice is fantastic. Ask locals, and if some of them have it at home, they will drag you in to try.
Tan – blended plain yogurt with water and a dash of salt, this drink is often an acquired taste, and very refreshing. It’s a healthy alternative to soda, so give it a try. You can sometimes find bottled fizzy tan, which is an even more acquired taste!
In Yerevan there are plenty of Night Clubs, Pubs, Karaoke and Strip Clubs especially in downtown.
Locals' and tourists' favourite night clubs are:
Bunker Club No. 12, Sayat-Nova street, Tel: (+374 10) 562504
Opera Club the basement of the Opera building. No. 54, Tumanyan St. Phone: (+374 10) 541222, 541226, hours: 13:00-18:00, 19:00-12:00, Admission: males: 1000 AMD
Kami Club No. 18, Abovyan st. near Moscow cinema, Phone: (+374 10) 519020, (091) 509020
Champs-Élysées Club on Northern Avenue
Ego Club on Kuryun street, Citadel Business Center Area
Manhattan Club located just off Republic Square essentially behind the Foreign Ministry building, Abovyan st, Byuzand st.
Favourite Karaoke Clubs are:
Mama-Mia Large set of Karaoke clubs
7Notes Sayat-Nova street
Iceberg Northern avenue
96 Club Sayat-Nova street
This is a brief list of famous clubs in Yerevan.
Yerevan has a wide variety of accommodations but for the most part they are overpriced. If you're staying for an extended period of time, rent an apartment. Check the AUA (American University of Armenia), locat travel agents (Menua tours, Hyur Service) or real estate brokers for rental listings.
It is almost impossible to sleep cheap in a hotel in Yerevan. Try home stays with Armenian families that rent out rooms. There are many of these places and they cost from $8 - $12 per night per person. Many are located in the center of Yerevan and if you can handle not having your own “space” they are a wonderful way to truly see Armenian hospitality up close. You can get a list of these home stays by contacting the Armenian Information Center .
Heghine apartment, 10 minutes walking from Garegina Sq., ☎ 094570445 (Heghine110@gmail.com). A kind and hospitable lady run this old house. Stove and bath is available. She speaks Armenian, Russian and Persian.$15 per person.
Anahit Stepanyan's B&B, 5 Sayat-Nova ave, apt.25 (Across the Opera house square. Brabion flower shop right underneath the house.), ☎ 0037410568134 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The oldest bed and breakfast in the heart of the city with a view on the Opera house and the Swan Lake. breakfast is included, there is free wifi in the apartment. They speak English, Russian, Italian and Arabic.From 4000AMD/€7.
Balcony Hostel, Hovsep Emin 3/1, Arabkir (Take the metro to Barekamutyun station (the last one) and from there walk down H.Hakobyan st till you get to a little hill. Up the hill and to the right, it's the small metal door on your left. A taxi from the airport here should cost 3000-4000), ☎ 00 374 10 26 44 49, . checkout: 12:00, but flexible. A small, budget hostel. Offers free wifi, laundry, a kitchen and shared bathrooms that are cleaned daily. English speaking, friendly, coffee and tea are free.9000 for single room, 6000 for shared room with locker, 6500 for room with light breakfast, 7000 for full breakfast. Between November and May rooms are 5000..
Envoy Hostel (corner of Pushkin and Parpetsi). Winner of 'Best Hostel in Armenia' Award by HW 2010&11, suggested as 'Best Places to Stay' by Lonely Planet and highly rated on Tripadvisor. Centrally located, it is the only European standard hostel in Yerevan. This hostel is large and comfortable with a free internet/wifi access, breakfast daily and all day free tea/ coffee plus 24 hour reception. All the rooms and common areas are air conditioned/ central heated and spotless. English speaking staff is very efficient and knowledgeable about traveling in Armenia and the region. The accommodation costs around 8000 AMD with breakfast. They offer a suite of Tours around Armenia plus they also have a hostel in Tbilisi and offer weekly tours from Yerevan to Tbilisi with sightseeing and bbq lunch included.
GuestHouse, Mashtots 52. They are very kind and it is very clean. However, they are almost always full.
Hostel Glide It is a private house located in the center of the city, but in a quiet and safe place. It's very close to bus stations and a 3 minute-walk from metro station “Barekamutyun” . It is possible to see Ararat mountain from the windows. It is run by a very hospitable family. The prices for beds start from 4500AMD.
Penthouse Hotel & Hostel 5 Koryun Street, apt 33/2(near Matenadaran, Medical University, Abovyan Street, the metro station Eritasardakan) It is an elegant duplex, clean, comfortable, with the amazing view of Biblical Mount Ararat. From 5000-5800 AMD (€9-10,40), including Armenian/continental breakfast.
Theatre Hostel A small and cozy hostel just 5 minutes walking distance from the main square. It is very clean, has many free facilities, such as wi-fi internet access, bicycle parking zone, etc. The prices start from 4500 AMD with light breakfast included.
Yerevan Hostel In the centre, 3 minutes from the metro station and Republic Square. Surrounded by restaurants, shops and markets. Friendly, knowledgeable English speaking staff available to greet you and provide you with information 24 hours a day. Very clean hostel, clean showers with hot water available day and night. Staff will work with you to design a tour of your choice to see the Armenia up close and personal. Wifi available also a computer available for guests. Traditional breakfast prepared for you every morning upon request, so always fresh. Flexible check in/check out times. Bag storage. 5500 AMD.
The main international standard hotels are Golden Tulip Hotel Yerevan the first hotel built in 1926 and the Marriott Hotel Armenia on Republic Square, as well Best Western Congress Hotel, a short walk from Republic Square. The Congress is one step down in price but offers the same western feel as the Marriott, and has a large outdoor pool. The Golden Palace, which claims 5 stars, has recently opened (July 2005). It is at the top of the Cascade. Hotel Latar, far on the outskirts of the city is like another world – as are the prices. The massive circular pool is a sight to behold.
Golden Tulip Hotel Yerevan has the charm of an old grand hotel with all of the amenities of a modern, upscale hotel: roof top pool, elegant guestrooms, exquisite restaurant, conference halls, winter garden with 24h bar and other services. The winning points of this hotel are professional service minded team and continuous development of services-facilities (e.g. free wi-fi in all the hotel).
Hotel Ani and Bass Hotel are nice and offer more realistic prices for western style accommodations. The specialty niche has the Tufenkian Hotel which tries to give you western standards but be true to the Armenian culture. It is high up in the Nork district, and you will be lucky if your taxi can find it easily. Olympia Hotel is situated in one of the most prestigious parts of Yerevan. The outstanding view from your balcony (you'll see Mountain Ararat, Mountain Aragats, Hrazdan valley and hear the sound of the waterfall just in front of you). Renovated and recently opened Erebuni Hotel is also a good choice in terms of price, location (next to Republic Square) and accommodations.
Areg Hotel (near Sasuntsi David Square, south and not too far from downtown) Nice, small and clean, it's the cheapest (real) hotel. Single: 50 USD - Double: 73 USD - Triple: 86 USD (Tax and breakfast included)
Yerevan is generally safer than many western-European cities. Crime and street violence is almost non-existent here. Nevertheless, as in the most cities of its size, in crowded places and transport beware of pickpockets.
The traffic can be quite rough, so pay close attention when crossing the street, especially in non designated area. There are about 3000 Dram (9 USD) fine for jaywalking.
Armenian Tourism Development Agency, 3 Nalbandyan Street, .
Mobile phone providers
There are three GSM service providers operating in Armenia. It is strongly advised to acquire a temporary prepaid SIM card as they are cheap and convenient, allowing both local and international calls, no charge for incoming calls and no monthly fee. Mobile internet and UTMS are also offered from all companies, as well as the normal full range of wireless services.
VivaCell and Orange have booths offering free SIM-Cards to incomming visitors at the airport. They are also easiest to top-up (at pretty much any store or kisok in the country!) and have better English service, rates and coverage.
Majority of foreign visitors find their unlocked mobile phones compatible with Armenian SIM cards (GSM 900/1800). GSM coverage maps of Armenia: .
VivaCell(Armenian, English, and Russian) is the leading GSM service provider in Armenia and offers quality service at reasonable rates (owned by the Russian giant MTS). They have the best coverage outside of Yerevan. VivaCell pre-paid SIM card ("ALO" card) costs AMD 1100-7000 (USD 3-20) depending on how much starting credit you want. At their flagship store off of Republic Square, VivaCell is very helpful to forgeiners and will make sure that you understand everything in English, French or Russian. They offer very low prices for international calls from your phone via a VoIP (be sure to dial 77 00+country code+the number, i.e.77001... for US or 770048... for Poland!), infact it is much cheaper per minute to call the US or Canada(13AMD/$0.03) or Russia(30AMD/$0.08) than it is to dail Armenian networks.
Beeline(Armenian and Russian) (formerly ArmenTel but have switched to the Russian brand) also have a pre-paid card. Note: this option may no longer be available to those without Armenian residency, although Russians and Ukrainians seem to be exempted.
Orange(Armenian and English) (The French multi-national is a newcommer, in the country since mid-2009) offers a pre-paid card called Let's Talk with complicated but competitive rates. All networks in Armenia(35AMD/$0.09) lower rates may apply within the network or for night-time calls, US or Canada(15AMD/$0.04), Russia(30AMD/$0.08).
Lake Sevan, Sevanavank and Hayravank Monasteries, and Noratus Khachkar Cemetary.
Dilijan old town, Haghartsin and Goshavank Monasteries.
The Debed Canyon and the monasteries of Lori (UNESCO World Heritage sites of Haghpat and Sanahin, plus Odzun, Kobayr, Horomayri and Surp Grigori).
Buses and minivans are the major means of transportation within the country. From Yerevan you can get to literally every place in Armenia within a day. To make things confusing for foreigners, there are several different regional bus-stations in Yerevan and the minivans tend to leave from hard to find places just somewhere at the side of the road. When heading into Yerevan, they are not unknown to drop you at random spots somewhere in the city, so ask the driver beforehand to drop you at a convenient place. The following is a incomplete list of the major bus stations.
Central/Kilikia Bus Station
The biggest bus station in Yerevan. It is located to the south-west of the city center on Admiral Isakov Avenue, around one kilometer form the shuka at the end of Mashtots Avenue. To get there, take Minibus 13 (from Barekamutsun Metro), 23 (from the Train Station) or 15, 68 and 75 (from Republic Square). The buses from here serve for example Sisian, Goris, Kapan, Gyumri and Vanadzor.
Buses to Tehran (via Tabriz) leave from this bus station at 10am every day - 24 hours, 22,000 Dram, arrive at "Azadi" bus station. Lunch and dinner stops on the way (one in Armenia, so keep some Dram).
Northern Bus Station
This bus station lies around 5km north of the city center on the Yerevan-Sevan Highway. It is worth visiting just for its soviet architecture and the desperate feeling the huge and empty building gives. To get there take bus 113 or Minibus 101 (both from somewhere on Komitas). Buses and Minivans from here go to for example Dillijan and Sevan.
Trains are cheap but inconvenient and uncomfortable options, but for the adventurous they can be taken on the Yerevan - Lake Sevan, Yerevan - Gyumri, Vanadzor - Alaverdi - Tbilisi and Yerevan - Yevlakh routes.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!