Sunday, October 26, 2008



Yerevan, at the western extreme of the Ararat plain, 1,100m above sea level, is the capital of the Republic of Armenia.

Armenia, a landlocked mountainous country in South Caucasus, located at the foot of Mount Ararat and between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, has a long history, with very sad aspects in the years of the WWI and immediately thereafter. The first Armenian Kingdom united the tribes of Hayasi and Armen in the sixth century B.C., and reached its greatest extent under Tigranes the Great, who reigned between 95 - 66 BC. Later, the work of the apostles Thaddeus and Bartholomew set the stage for the official conversion of Armenia to Christianity in 301 A.D., the first country to officially do so, and twelve years before the Edict of Milan signed by Emperor Constantine.

The Republic of Armenia, due to large scale emigration after the December 7, 1988 earthquake and the collapse of the Soviet Union, has now a population of about 3 million, with roughly one million and one hundred living in Yerevan. Today, however, there are more Armenians living outside of its borders than inside.

Legend has it that the origin of the name Yerevan derived from an expression exclaimed, in Armenian, by Noah, while looking in the direction of the site, after the Ark had landed on Mount Ararat and the waters receded: «Yerevats»! However, it is much more likely that the name derives from a 782 B.C. military fortress called Erebuni.

"YEREVAN - First impression is far from being an excellent one, even for someone familiarized with the traditional jokes that were told about Yerevan, Radio Yerevan or similar..."


"THE NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE, designed by the architect Alexander Tamanian, was built between 1926 and 1953, as part of a plan to redesign the city. It actually houses the Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall (whose statue is hardly seen in this picture) and Alexander Spendiaryan Opera and the Ballet National Academic Theatre. The Opera and Ballet Theatre holds 1,260 people, and the Concert Hall holds 1,400"

"MASHTOTS STREET - Previously known as «Lenin Prospect», it's the widest street in the centre of Yerevan, with three traffic lanes in each direction. Mother Armenia, a statue in the Victory Park, overlooks Yerevan from the top of the hill"

"MESROP MASHOTS (360 - 440), an Armenian monk, theologian and linguist, is known for having invented the Armenian Alphabet, which was a fundamental step in strengthening the Armenian Church and the government of the Armenian Kingdom. The statue lies in front of the Matenadaran and the letters of the Armenian alphabet are carved into the wall behind the statue"

"MATENADARAN (Institute of Ancient Manuscripts), which in ancient Armenian means «library», is a centre for the study and preservation of Armenian literature. Designed by Mark Grigoryan, it was built in 1957, and is one of the most interesting things to see in Armenia. With massive copper doors, it keeps manuscripts that were respectfully guarded and that played an important role in the people’s fight against spiritual subjugation and assimilation"

"BOOKS - Thousands of Armenian manuscripts perished in invasions and wars, leaving only 25,000 left in the Matenadaran. The rest of them are dispersed in Venice, Jerusalem, Vienna, Beirut, Paris, and the Getty Museum. The most ancient item is a fragment from the fifth century, the most ancient parchment book is the Gospel of Lazarus from 887 and the most ancient paper manuscript dates from 981"


"REPUBLIC SQUARE - The central square of Yerevan is named Hanrapetutyan Hraparak. It's the main square in Yerevan, and hosts the Marriot Hotel, the Foreign Ministry, and a large fountain in front of the National Art Gallery and History Museum"

"THE NATIONAL ART GALLERY OF ARMENIA, founded in 1921, is considered one of the best museums in the former Soviet Union, and houses the works of famous Armenian artists of the early medieval times through the late twentieth century"

"ARMENIA SACRA is an exhibition entirely devoted to Armenian art, which aims to recognize the brilliance of Christian art created in Armenia, from the conversion of the Armenian people until the end of the 18th century. Organized by the Louvre Museum, it includes not only steles and carved capitals but also khatchkars, stone slabs carved with intricately laced patterns centred on the cross, displayed in their upright position. It was shown in Yerevan in October 2007"


Anonymous said...

Welcome to Yerevan! Some of you may have never heard neither about Yerevan, the city (a.k.a. Erevan, Iravan, Erewan, Ayrivan, and Erivan - former names include Erebuni, Revan, Ereun, and Yervandavan), nor about Radio Yerevan jokes! ;) However, the capital of (the Republic of) Armenia, (successor of) the first Christian kingdom on Earth, facing Mount Ararat, where allegedly Noah’s Ark has landed at the end of the Deluge, may have some interesting sites to see… Hope you take pleasure in this stroll!

SusuPetal said...

Thanks for an interesting post. Armenia is a familiar country, although I've never been there. Geographic is being well taught in Finnish schools, which I believe is a good thing, because one's own country isn't really the whole world.

Anonymous said...

We Finns are now the first ones :)
When I was visiting in Tbilisi during Soviet time, I spoke in a hotel`s lounge a handsome young man and he was very interested in Finland. I was asking, where he was coming from and he said from Armenia. I think, I have never seen so beautiful face before or after that.
This is my nearest connection with Armenia and I still remember that :)

Thank you for this interesting post.

Neva said...

You always have wonderful shots of your trip!!! very enjoyable....

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Wow... love the books... I could have been a happy camper just looking at those... this seems like my kind of museum...

S-V-H said...

Of course I remember the jokes from "Radio Yerevan"... :) and down in Key West we had a artist friend, he was from Yerevan.

Your post and the photos are great as always, Gil! Thanks for taking us there. :)

Mariposa said...

Thank you for this I know a little something more about Armenia =)I hope you have some shots of Mt.Ararat.

Maria Verivaki said...

this has been a most interesting post - i teach armenian students (among the many eastern europeans that come to study in crete), so i really enjoyed seeing where they come from

kyh said...

wow... i've always wondered what it's like in armenia... and georgia too. those countries seem so distant from us, from the media and all, and currently catapulted to the front page of world news due to the russian aggression on georgia.

thx for sharing this, lovely documentation! :)

hpy said...

Some very interesting architecture, and I'm not talking about the first two pictures, thatr are also interesting, but in another way.

PeterParis said...

I suppose you were on a job visit. We would in general probably neglect to put Armenia on our preffered countries to visit, just for pleasure! However, I guess we are wrong. Those by toursits less visited countries may be the most interesting! Thanks, once more, for interesting and complete info!

Indrani said...

I never heard about Yerevan, the post is interesting and great shots too.

Anonymous said...

excellent post again. a very interesting trip to this also interesting city. wonderful photography too.

Pietro Brosio said...

It's a pleasant stroll indeed.
Interesting the images and the text. I like very much the photograph of the Armenian art.

Ron said...

Very nice pics. Looks like an interesting place. I've never heard of the city so thanks for the history lesson.

Your blog is always wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tour of Yerevan. I have learned so much about this place through your article.

In the meantime, you might to check out my new entry about my visit to a Traditional Chinese Temple in Taipei, Taiwan. :)

Ashira said...

As per usual, wonderful photos! Yerevan looks beautiful. I love how many trees line Mashtots Street - it's nice to see some greenery in the middle of a city!

Azer Mantessa said...

1,100 m above sea level ... wow!

that is already very interesting.

fantastic manuscripts too

Rakesh Vanamali said...

Marvelous pictures as always! Now, I've been to Armenia too via blogtrotta ;)



Maya said...

enlightening and as always beautiful indeed..:)

Cergie said...

Quelle splendeur, Gil, que ce message !
Des immeubles à la fois sobres et richement parés. On n'est pas habitué à ce monde là.
Le moine te ressemble, tu ne trouves pas ? La photo et la statue se juxtaposeraient aisément (quel beau ciel reflété dans le miroir).
La galerie nationale d'art nous met la tête à l'envers et trouble les sens.
Les jeux d'eau du square de la République, quel enchantement.
Et l'écriture nous ouvre une autre culture.

Cependant j'avoue un petit faible pour la photo prise dans le brouillard et la pollution, celle d'ailleurs que tu as mise tout en haut en accroche, elle me rappelle la Chine...

Cutie said...

Where's Armenia? Is it a country of its own?
I just love the fountain in front of the National Art Gallery. It looks like a pool to me.

leo said...

Armenia is indeed very foreign to me but yes I know/heard of Mount Ararat. very interesting. enjoyed your previous mykonos pelican story too. good geography not to mention history lesson for me.

eye in the sky said...

i can immerse myself in that museum of manuscripts. what an exotic place.

Olivier said...

encore une superbe ville, j'ai adoré la place "REPUBLIC SQUARE". Les photos des livres sont magnifiques, surprenant que tu es eut le droit d'en faire des photos.

alicesg said...

Very beautiful arts. The buildings were so beautifully designed. Always attracted by this beautiful architectural designs.

raccoonlover1963/Lisa Myers said...

Gil, thank you for always giving me a vacation that I can afford! LOL I often feel like I've been there through your blog.
Have a great week.

Anonymous said...

Armenia wouldn't have on my tour list. Thanks for making me visit it.

Oman said...

wowowow. thank you for the wonderful tour. your post makes me appreciate the many places that I don't usually see or ever had a chance to visit like the one you showed me in this post. great job.

Lara said...

unbelievable! you also were there! thanks for sharing, it was a nice surprise to find this on your site!

RuneE said...

That was a bit off the beaten track! A real "pleasure" to see the contrast in that long-suffering country. You better lie low at the moment!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

What an interesting place to visit! My daughter has two friends whose families are refugees from Armenia.
I'm glad some of those beautful ancient manuscripts survived all the turmoil that Armenia has suffered through the ages.
Thanks for the wonderful photos and information.

alice said...

I'm happy to see what this country looks like, I had no idea. Many French people have Armenian roots, the most famous could be Charles Aznavour. Achod Malakian was another famous one, great film-maker, better known by this name Henri Verneuil.
This country has had a very sad and very heavy history...

Marguerite-marie said...

tout d'abord merci pour la merveilleuse visite à little Venice...l'avion entre les ailes des moulins splendide!!!!
et maintenant l'Arménie avec un mélange de couleurs j'aime beaucoup les manuscrits (même question qu'Olivier)

JO said...

ANother great post! Love that huge window - so beautiful and the books are amazing. Take care!

Emery Roth said...

Fascinating, and probably a place I'm not dying to get to, so your post will fill the gap in my knowledge for awhile. Well, there's Khachaturian anyhow. I used to love his piano concerto. Thanks again for the trip.

Voegtli said...

I definitely have to buy a camera to make photos of the places I am going to. I should have bought one 40 years ago.

Jules said...

This is a country I don't know much about - thanks for this!!!

Kala said...

quite fascinating history and that beautiful mural Matenadaran - the city looks very condensed with alot of buildings so close together. Its quite the contrast with Mykonos. Its still fascinatingto learn of a new place i will probably never get to se in person.

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

de l'Arménie je ne connais que le papier (' vendu en pharmacie), le génocide et les artistes français de cette origine : Charles Aznavour, Henri Verneuil...
Merci pour ce reportage !

Thérèse said...

L'Arménie est un des rares pays ou j'irai volontiers pour découvrir les habitants et l'histoire. L'arche de Noe je crois? Ce n'est pas facile là-bas. Des émigrés extraordinaires vivent aux US.

Nihal said...

Hi Gil,
To what I know is that there are so many historical sites to visit -the city is rich in history. And I appreciate that you gave us this chance for a virtual tour in Armenia for someone like myself who's not been yet.
Yerevan, I know about it. One missing important detail to add your article is that the Mount Ararat (or Agri Dagi as we call in Turkish) is the tallest peak in 'Turkey':) Latest discoveries show that a Noah's Ark still sit partially hidden on the slopes of Mt Ararat. Many researchers come to Turkey in order to detailed excavations. It's really 'meaningful' legend in Turkish culture and religion. There's a special dessert dedicated for Noah and we cook it only in the month of February to commemorate Noah. Oh I can't cook but my mom is excellent.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading this post, especially Armenian manuscripts are a treasure! Wish you a buon weekend and warm greetings.

Marie-Noyale said...

Very interesting post,
it is not often,one can see pictures of Armenia.

Louise said...

Hard to leave the blue beauty of Greece for this, but this IS interesting.

My favorites here are the art gallery and the old manuscripts. The books are incredible!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gil, I don't know why but this post really captured my heart. Maybe because I had a very good friend that was Armenian. I like the Noah's Ark legend the best.

Nikon said...

Beautiful shots as usual Gil ( I especially like the staircase shot).
You just can't miss the Soviet contribution to architecture, though :)

Wendy said...

Very interesting post. Must have been a great trip.

Anonymous said...

An ugly town but with some beautiful buildings.
thanks for your good wishes, Gil, I'm already better.

Joy said...

Wow, love those Armenian books. And I love the plaza. Beautiful!

Thanks for visiting Norwich Daily Photo and leaving your comments.

A Pinay In England
Your Love Coach
I, Woman

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! Great to see you in Yerevan, and commenting! And this isn’t a Radio Yerevan joke… ;))

Interesting that Geography is well taught in Finnish schools! Always loved it (actually, I got the best exam’s mark on it in my secondary school)… The issue for Armenians, however, seems to be History…

It must have been quite impressive for your memory to last for so much time…
It’s true that you Finns were so close to CCCP that it’s no wonder seeing you visiting the former Republics!!

Great to see you here, and enjoying!!

Those manuscripts and books are absolutely stunning! No wonder you would love to camp there… ;))

There aren’t many people who know about Radio Yerevan jokes… you’re probably one of the few commenting here who knew about it! ;)) Probably fruit of the acquaintance with your Armenian artist friend…

You’ll see the Ararat; luckier than Nicholas II… ;))

It seems that Armenians (like Portuguese) are everywhere in the world; no wonder you have Armenian students in Crete!!

Countries aren’t usually that distant; the problem is that sometimes we’re not paying due attention… As far as aggressions are concerned, the history has always a penchant to be longer rather than short, contrary to what one may read in the media…

Those two first were intentionally put there; the idea was to confirm the traditional prejudice in order to deconstruct it later…
Today, these answers are becoming a bit too elaborate… ;)) TGIF!!

You’re right. Professional visit: a conference!
I wouldn’t say that they are the most interesting countries, but they have indeed their interest. For sure!

Many people have never heard about Yerevan; or at least they didn’t notice the news… The 1988 Spitak Earthquake (also called Leninakan Earthquake) in Armenia was, however, for bad reasons, in all media!

Thanks! Glad that you found it interesting!

The Khatchkar (stone slab carved with intricately laced patterns centred on the cross) is absolutely stunning!

You’re not alone! Many people never heard about Yerevan... ;)

Asian Traveler,
Thanks! I’ll check your post asap! Probably this weekend!

There are some parks in Yerevan; unfortunately I had no free time to catch them... But the former «Lenin Prospect» is indeed a nice avenue!!

Nothing compared with Lhasa or La Paz... but high enough anyhow! ;)
Agree with you on the manuscripts...

Thanks! I take it as a great compliment!!

Great to see you commenting here, for the first time I think!!

C’est vrai que le monde est un peu different, mais il y a dejà des discos, bars, restos três semblabes à ceux que nous connaissons...
Je n’avais pás remarqué la similitude avec Mesrop Mashots, mais maintenant que tu la réfères, c’est vrai qu’il il y quelque chose en commun... ;))
L’escalier de la Galerie est vraiment frappant! Mais je suis d’accord avec toi; les deux premires photos sont plutôt proches d’une certaine idée d’une republique de l’ex Union Soviétique...

In the Caucusus! A country on its own, though with a long and tragic history on its side… Not exactly a pool, though some young people seem to bathe there in the hot summer days… ;))

As we have seen on these comments, you’re not alone on the knowledge (or non-knowledge, I would say ;)) of Armenia! Ararat will come next… ;)

Eye in the Sky,
Matenadaran is indeed a fabulous place; now, just imagine the whole bunch of manuscripts that have been taken away during centuries…

La Place de la Repúblique, comme les Grand Places des villes d’Europe occidentale ou les Plaza d’Armas en Amérique Latine, est très imposante…
En ce qui concerne les photos, il faut dire que la visite au Musée a été préparé spécialement pour notre groupe et les gens ont été très compréhensifs... ;))

Alice SG,
It’s true that the architecture is a bit different when compared with the skyscrapers of Singapore… ;))
You’re always welcome to travel light on this blog… lol!!

It’s not easy to include all the more than 200 existing countries in our list, but we should try… ;))

Glad that you enjoyed the post on a country somehow off the beaten track… Not an easy task to visit them all… ;))

So you were there too, in Armenia? Or were you referring to the «who is the man in white near gmg»? ;))…

True that’s off beaten track; and true that’s a long suffering country…

Refugees or emigrants, they’re far from the home country…
It’s amazing that they managed to keep the manuscripts, notwithstanding all the disasters (natural and human) they suffered in the course of History…

C’est vrai que L’Arménie est très connue en France, surtout à cause de l’immense quantité de refugies que sont arrivés dans les années 20 du XXème siècle... Et, en plus, il y aura toujours Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian, plus connu comme Charles Aznavour…
Le petit livre est arrivé. Merci! Je te passe un e-mail!

J’ai eu de la chance pour l’avion... ;)
Pour les manuscrits, voici la réponse donné à Olivier: «En ce qui concerne les photos, il faut dire que la visite au Musée a été préparé spécialement pour notre groupe et les gens ont été très compréhensifs... ;))»

Glad to see you around! Hope everything is fine with you!
The books are extraordinary indeed!

True that not everybody is acquainted with Armenia… But Aram Khachaturian at least won some deserved recognition… ;)

Your camera is good enough for what I’ve seen; but your computer is a great one, for what we can read of your memories… ;))

Don’t worry; not many people knows much about it… ;))

Matenadaran has some superb books! As for the buildings, Chora (Mykonos town) is also quite condensed, but entirely different… ;)

Je dirais que tu connaisses beaucoup plus sur l’Arménie que la plupart des gens… ;))

Exactement! L’Arche au sommet du Mont Ararat, qui est maintenant en Turquie… En fait, ça n’a pas jamais été facile là-bas…

I wasn’t showing Ararat, that’s why I didn’t mention Turkey in relation to the mountain! But it’s mentioned in the new post, where you may see it; something not always easy, due to the haze… Anyhow, I think that under the circumstances, I was quite discreet in bringing up old relations between Turks and Armenians…
Amazing that Noah’s cookie in February; don’t offer myself to get there to taste it, because in February I may catch another snow storm… ;))
The manuscripts are fabulous, aren’t they?

One off the beaten track post… ;)

You caught it perfectly! I wished to have stayed in Greece, but Armenia was also interesting…

Friends make things come closer!!!

The staircase is amazing! But the imprint of the Soviet architecture is also there to be seen!


Well, not such a great trip, but some interesting things to be seen…

I wouldn’t say ugly, because there is always some beauty around (and if you look for, you’ll always find something horrible not far away… even in Switzerland… ;)) But it’s true that you have to find the best spots to catch the nice views…

The books are outstanding!

Jules said...

This is such an amazing part of the world - such history!!!!

Anonymous said...

Long history, sometimes a troubled one...

Ming the Merciless said...

I saw the map at the bottom of the page. You have never been to Greenland?

That has to be remedied. :-)

Anonymous said...

How did you unveil my thoughts? I was just thinking that it was to cold to get to Greenland now... ;))

A Lady's Life said...

I thought going up the mountain was forbidden and that they know where the ark is but keep it a secret.

Too bad if its true, they don't at leats take pictures to show people.

Trotter said...

Ararat is in nowadays Turkish territory; I don't know whether you're allowed to climb or not... As for the Ark, a bit of cepticism wouldn't be bad... ;))