Yerevan is one of the oldest cities in the world. Monasteries and mosques can be found in this historically important city in the Caucasus as well as contemporary boutiques and modern buildings. Yerevan is not only the historical, cultural and also economic center of Armenia, but also a place of contrasts. In the Christian country, and especially in the capital Yerevan, you can find evidence of past cultures, great historical events and the eternal struggle of Christianity against Islam. Discover Yerevan and get to know one of the oldest cities in the world, which has nevertheless remained completely untouched by mass tourism. Rich cultural testimonies await you in Yerevan as well as authentic insights into modern life in Armenia.
Tip 1: Republic Square
In the evening, the hustle and bustle of Yerevan culminates in Republic Square: a spectacle of lights, fountains and classical music. Enjoy this spectacle with a glass of Armenian wine in your hand. During the day, you can also take beautiful photos here and experience history up close. Some tourists have their picture taken in front of the fountain with four pigeons, two of which carry the Armenian flag around their necks and two others the lettering of the revolution – the Russian word for “courage” in Armenian letters.
Republic Square is lined with impressive government buildings, museums and hotels. Until 1991, there was also a seven-meter-high statue of Lenin on this square, which was removed when the Soviet Union collapsed. After that, the vibrant core of Yerevan, created by architect Alexander Tamanjan, also got its current name.
Tip 2: Yerevan Cascade
The Yerevan Cascade is considered one of the most famous sights of the capital. In the middle of the city there is a staircase complex 118 meters high and 50 meters wide, which is also an extremely popular vantage point.
From here you can see a large part of the city and take wonderful snapshots. On several pedestals you can admire fountains and sculptures. Inside the cascade there are several exhibition halls connected by escalators, which together form the Cafesjian Museum of Art. Take a seat in one of the cafes, which are lined up on both sides of the cascade and enjoy the colorful hustle and bustle over a coffee.
Tip 3: Etchmiadzin Cathedral
The spiritual and religious center of the country is located barely 20 kilometers from Yerevan: Echmiadzin is home to numerous churches listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is a must for all lovers of Armenian Christianity.
Chroniclers from the 5th century state that Echmiadzin Cathedral was built at the very beginning of the 4th century – shortly after King Tiridates III converted to Christianity and Gregory the Illuminator acted as the first head of the church. At the time of communism the cathedral was the oldest Christian place of worship on the soil of the Soviet Union. The legend about its origin says that Jesus Christ appeared to St. Gregory in a dream and descended to the earth with a red-hot hammer in his hand to show him the place where the church was to be built. Accordingly, Echmiadzin also means “the place where the Only-Begotten descended to the earth”. Besides the cathedral, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 and in whose monastery the first printing house in Armenia was established, the city offers a number of other Christian monuments, such as the church with the mausoleum of St. Hripsime or the church of St. Gajane.
Tip 4: Yerevan Vernissage
The market Vernissage could be dismissed at first glance as a simple flea market or souvenir market. But this is only half the truth, because there is simply everything to do with Armenia or comes from Armenia. Musical instruments, ceramic dishes, jewelry, figurines, carpets, paintings, textiles, fruits, souvenirs and all kinds of bizarre handicrafts.
Negotiating prices is a point of honor at the market and we had encountered only friendly and open traders. Be sure to take plenty of time with you when you visit the market and want to see everything.
The Vernissage Market is open every day from 10:00 to 18:00. Around 16 o’clock the first stores close. The best time for a stroll is in the morning, because it is not yet so hot and not quite so crowded.
Tip 5: Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque in Yerevan is the largest and most important of eight Islamic places of worship in the Armenian capital Yerevan and the only one still in function today.
The building complex of the mosque occupies an area of 7000m². The mosque consists of a large prayer hall for the believers, a library and a madrasa with 28 rooms (Islamic religious school) arranged around an inner courtyard. The mosque has a minaret.
It was built in 1766 under the Iranian regent Nadir Shah by the Armenian patron Hussein Ali-Khan and functioned as a Friday mosque. After the former Iranian province of Armenia was conquered by the Soviets in 1827, the magnificent building was used as a city museum from 1931.
After Armenia’s independence, the city museum was moved to another building specially constructed for this purpose and with the help of the Iranian government, the mosque could be used again as the only mosque in the city.