We hired a taxi to take us from Yerevan to 3 monestries and drop us at Sevan for 30,000AMD (£45).
this place is in an ideal setting, with mount ararat in the background, great for the postcard photo.
the monestary itself isnt anything great,but free entry.
1000AMD entry, this place is just a temple in a nice setting
This is a great place in a canyon with a really old monestary with several different sections. The back section had 5 nuns singing in it and had amazing acoustics.
Its a nice easy city to walk around, not blessed with sights but enough for a day or two:
-Erebuni-the old part of Yerevan where it all started, theres an old ruins of a citadel from 7th Century BC and a museum. From up there theres great views. It was free when i went but think usually you pay.
-Matenadaran - 1000AMD entry, in the centre of town - this place has some of the worlds oldest scripts and books, very interesting
-Mother Armenia - go see the statue as she overlooks the city
-Genocide museum - free entry, a 1500 taxi ride out of town, its interesting, could be better but brings home the shocking truth of the 1916 genocide
-The Cascade - a modern wok of art, the cascade is a load of steps up to the Soviet monument but is great at night as the various sculptures light up
Outside of the city are a couple places in easy reach:
-Echmiadzin, just 30km west of the city.Here is a church, and museum. Quite interesting, at 1000AMD. They also have in a museum under the church, the poker that was used to cut Jesus when he was on the cross, if you beleive it, but it was closed when we were there. if you catch a service in the church its great to listen.
-Zvartnots church, in ruins but with a museum so you can see what it used to look like, this place is 1000AMD entry ,with great views of Mount Ararat in the background.
The currency of Armenia is the Dram. The symbol called 'Luma' represents the Dram and looks like an upside-down telephone pole bending to the left. The denominations are:
Banknotes: 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000
Coins: 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500
If you think about 500 Drams being worth a Euro - this makes life a bit easier. Try and avoid getting any note above 5000. It just makes life difficult for you. Credit cards are accepted fairly well in Yerevan. I saw a lot of HSBC ATM Machines that are on the Cirrus and Plus Network. They accept, Visa, Mastercard and Arca (Armenian) Cards. I have a good tip about one of the grocery stores doing currency exchanges in Yerevan. There are several banks that will do this as well.
Drams are convertible, but I would not take them out of Armenia. Also there is NO Black Market so don't even try.
When I explained to my taxi driver that I needed Armenian Drams (AMD) - he stopped at the grocery store. I kept thinking I would be ripped off and the driver would get a commission from the store. I could not have been more wrong.
SAS is a modern chain of grocery stores and their location on the central street of Tumanyan Street has a foreign money exchange kiosk inside - with excellent rates for major currencies. I was impressed. They also have an HSBC Bank ATM as well.
All SAS Grocery stores are open 24/7. I am not sure of the foreign exchange hours, but regular business hours are not in doubt.
Well I was on a business trip to Yerevan and had no time to grasp the culture and history( fortunately, after my conference held at Marriot Armenia, i walked through Yerevan's Republic Square and noticed restaurant ARARAT. As it turned out later it was the oldest restaurant in Yerevan) On entering i was informed that alreday a montch ago they started with a show programme - Armenian National Show, that includec dances, ethnic national songs and of course very special and tasty(as it tuned out later) dishes served. It was an experience I had last time time whn i was in Greece, even more energetic, believe me. Especially i liked famous armenian dance Qochari and the tase of Dolma (meet in grape leaves- marvelous!). In case you are in Yerevan, be their guest;)
The State History Museum in Republic Square (formerly Lenin Square) is notable for the statues of Catherine the Great and Lenin which are squirreled away in a back courtyard ready for any change in the political winds. The important archaeological collection from the Stone Age through Medieval periods is dark and almost unlabeled, but should not be missed, if those things are of interest to you. One of our team members was so excited when he found out about this exhibit that he wore two of us out although we were both younger than he is. Note a Latin inscription from Ejmiatsin attesting to the presence of a Roman garrison. There are some interesting models of early modern Yerevan and other historical exhibits of interest to those comfortable in Armenian or Russian.
The same building also houses the National Art Gallery and the National Picture Gallery, although, to me, it seemed as if both of these were the same gallery.
This appears to be the tourism and shopping center, as well as the geographic center, of Yerevan. The square was started in the 1940s in a traditional Armenian architectural style, as Lenin Square, but it was not completed until the 1970s. The arches of the buildings lining the square and the motifs of the bas-reliefs are unique in their conception and resemble the structural shapes of the Armenian architectural and spiritual monuments of the 10th-13th centuries. In Yerevan, most buildings comprise a pink shade of "tuff" stone quarried locally. This is the most prominent feature of Yerevan's otherwise usually utilitarian Soviet architecture and is unique to Armenia.
The Marriott Hotel, National History Museum, National Art Gallery, a major subway station, several restaurants, and many shops ranging from souvenirs to haute couture are on, or within a few meters of, Republic Square.
The Matenadaran Manuscript Collection housed at Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts is of prime importance for the study of the history and culture of Armenia as well as Transcaucasia, Asia Minor, and several other Middle Eastern countries. Works by some philosophers of antiquity survived only in their Armenian translation. These include Eusebius of Gaesaria's "Chronicle", the ancient Greek philosopher Xenon's treatise, "On Nature," and many others. The archives preserve over 100,000 documents of the fourteenth to nineteenth centuries: various deeds, decrees, treaties, and letters, which contain vast material on the political and socio-economic history of Armenia and neighbouring countries.
The Mesrop Mashtots Institute staff is very quick to tell you that their facility and collections are not a museum but an institute whose objectives are first and foremost the (1) preservation, restoration, and reproduction of the manuscripts; (2) their procurement; (3) the organization and cataloging of Armenian manuscripts; and, (4) the distribution and publication of particularly historically significant Armenian manuscripts in languages other than Armenian. In 1941, it began publishing its official periodical, Banber Matenadarani (The Matenadaran Herald) which are accompanied with Russian and French abstracts.
In their collection, they possess nearly 17,000 manuscripts and 30,000 other documents which cover a wide array of subjects such as historiography, geography, philosophy, grammar, art history, medicine, and science. In the first decades of Soviet rule, its collection was largely drawn from manuscripts stored in ecclesiastical structures in Vaspurakan and Taron, in schools, monasteries, and churches in Armenia and the rest of the Soviet Union (such as those located in New Nakhichevan and the Nersisyan Seminary in Tbilisi), the Lazarev Institute of Oriental Languages in Moscow, from the Armenian Apostolic Church's Primacy in Tabriz, the village of Darashamb in Iran, as well as the personal collections given by private donors. In addition to the Matenadaran's Armenian manuscripts, there is a vast collection of historical documents numbering over 2,000 in languages such as Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Japanese and Russian. The Mashtots Matenadaran Ancient Manuscripts Collection was inscribed on UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme Register in 1997 in recognition of its world significance.
In spite of all of this potential erudition, the document which most impressed on our tour of this institute was the oldest existing ivory-bound copy of The Book of Sadness, held to be second only to the Holy Bible in reverence by the Armenian Apostolic Church. I had a chance to buy a wood bound English language edition for just over $100 but thought that surely I would find a less expensive opportunity later in our trip. I was wrong.
This was also a stop of nearly half a day but should more appropriately be scheduled for a longer visit so that you would have an opportunity to study the collections more closely.
Have you ever heard of the Armenian genocide. Most people have not but many more of us should have. Early in the 20th Century, the Ottoman Turks tried to solve their "Armenian problem" by exterminating all of the Armenians living within their territories. (Does that remind you of the "solution" which another world leader tried to implement for his "minority citizens just over 30 years later?) In 1915, the Turks are believed to have killed between 800,000 and 1.5 million Armenians.
The Genocide Memorial and Museum at Tsitsernakaberd ("Swallow Castle") sits on the site of an Iron Age fortress. Everything about this museum is simple and austere but nevertheless a very powerful and deeply moving testimony to the 1915 destruction of the Armenian communities of Eastern Anatolia. There is a 44 meter spire which symbolizes the rebirth of the Eastern and Western branches of the Armenian people. Nearby there is a circle of 12 bowing monoliths around a sub-surface eternal flame which symbolize the 12 Armenian provinces lost to Turkey or mothers mourning the loss of the hundreds of thousands of dead Armenians with a reminder that life is eternal regardless of man's inhumanity to man. At the other end of the Memorial there is a grove of trees planted by world leaders showing their faith in the perseverance of life. Perhaps most impressive in this grove is the pair of trees where one actually grew through the trunk of an adjacent tree. Perhaps most haunting is the fact that throughout the Memorial there is constant, almost angelic music playing at a volume just above a whisper emanating from unseen speakers.
From here the view over the Ararat Valley is striking.
Construction of the memorial began in 1966 in response to the 1965 Yerevan demonstrations during which one million people demonstrated in Yerevan for 24 hours to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Genocide. The memorial was designed by architects Arthur Tarkhanyan, Sashur Kalashyan, and artist Hovhannes Khachatryan. It was completed in November of 1967.
The Armenian Genocide Museum opened its doors in 1995, concurrently commemorating the eightieth anniversary of the Genocide. Its mission is rooted in the fact that understanding the Armenian genocide is an important step in preventing similar future tragedies, in keeping with the notion that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. The museum provides guided tours in Armenian, Russian, English, French, and German. The Republic of Armenia has made visiting the Armenian Genocide Museum part of the official State protocol program and many official foreign delegations have already visited the Museum.
Andranik Ozanian (1865-1927) was an Armenian general, political and public activist and freedom fighter. He is regarded as a national hero. The statue has him riding two horses at once. One of the horses is crushing a snake beneath its hoof.
My favourite place in Yerevan was Republic Square. It was an enjoyable place to visit both day and night. The square is surrounded by a number of magnificent buildings. As well as government buildings there's the Art Gallery & State History Museum, Hotel Armenia and a Post Office.
It was opened in 1933 as the Yerevan State Opera House. Two years later it was renamed as the Spendiarian Armenian Theatre of Opera and Ballet. The building is also home to the Khachaturian Concert Hall.
This granite statue was erected in 1931. Stepan Shahumian was an Armenian who imposed Bolshevik rule in Azerbaijan. Behind the statue are a series of fountains, lined with cafes, that lead to Republic Square.
The gardens at the foot of the Cascade contain many interesting sculptures. Also here you'll find a statue of Alexander Tamanian, the architect who was the author of the original plan for the Cascade, as well being responsible for planning the city of Yerevan.
From Spring until Autumn there was a fountain and light show every evening in front of the Art Gallery. While I was there the display started at 9pm and lasted two hours. The fountains were lit up and danced in tune to the music which ranged from classical to pop. The display was very popular drawing large crowds.