Written by dangaroo on 04 Nov, 2012
My visit to Armenia wasn't quite as I'd liked it to be, it was the return leg of a trip to the Middle East, I'd noticed that Air Baltic had cheap flights from Yerevan to Riga and Air Arabia had cheap flights from Sharjah to…Read More
My visit to Armenia wasn't quite as I'd liked it to be, it was the return leg of a trip to the Middle East, I'd noticed that Air Baltic had cheap flights from Yerevan to Riga and Air Arabia had cheap flights from Sharjah to Yerevan, unfortunately my stay wasn't anyway near as long as I'd like and I was also totally skint having had to spend two days longer in Amman than expected and being surprised by the Israeli prices prior to that. So I had literally no money and this limited me, what's more I'd been in the Middle East in December which was rather warm and was now freezing my ears off in the shadows of Mount Ararat. Typically under-dressed, I did a lot of walking but had to keep moving for fear of freezing. Should you be in the same situation, depending on whether you want to save the best until last or do it first then I highly recommend a visit to the Cascades, this staircase has surprisingly large stairs and cascades in the middle, it was built in the 1970s and towers over the city, giving you fantastic panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area, including Mount Ararat. The bottom section is a park with nice trees and benches, the cascade is littered with statues made by some reasonably well known artists, the top of this structure houses the Museum of Contemporary Art and there's two chubby sculptures made by Colombian artist Fernando Botero. It's breathtaking in more than one way but like most climbs, is definitely worth the effort. For those who don't want to exert themselves, there are actually escalators, although this is not obvious. Should you wish to continue across the road at the top of the Cascades, you will come to Haghtanak Park, which again has wonderful views.. or at least should have, a sort of misty smog had developed whilst I was there and the visibility was really poor.Haghtanak Park was built in commemoration of the countries participation in WW2 as a part of the Soviet Union, it too is sprinkled with statues but of a lot less artistic kind, these are the more serious looking memorial type as well as the 'peace statue' Later, I went down to Republic Square, locally known as Hanrapetutyan Hraparak, an oval-shaped area, this is surrounded by majestic buildings and I spent some time photographing it from every different angle possible. Some really flashy cars may park up and at the same time you can have an old Lada taxi pulling up, this is a great place to people watch and really chilled out.Yerevan has its fair share of museums which were off bounds to me due to my lack of lucre at the time, I found it surpisingly well developed and like other ex-Soviet capitals that I've visited, full of money in the centre. A walk into the suburban areas, shows a different side to the city though, a more rough and ready type and I highly recommend a little walk along the back road past the football stadium and famous Yerevan Brandy distillery! I cannot wait to return to the region and would love to get a full look at Armenia. Close
Written by Hishyeness on 20 Aug, 2010
ARRIVALMost visitors to Yerevan (and Armenia) will arrive at Zvartnots International Airport, which is about a 20 minute (and 12km) drive from the city centre (known as "getron"). This small airport is an odd mixture of the old and new – with 1960’s Soviet style…Read More
ARRIVALMost visitors to Yerevan (and Armenia) will arrive at Zvartnots International Airport, which is about a 20 minute (and 12km) drive from the city centre (known as "getron"). This small airport is an odd mixture of the old and new – with 1960’s Soviet style monolithic architecture supplemented by an attractive modern terminal. You will need immediate access to cash to pay for your 21 day visa, the luggage trolleys and also your cab fare. Helpfully, there are exchange facilities available in the airport (at typically unfavourable rates). There is no train service into the city, so you will need to take a taxi or (if booked) a hotel courtesy bus. Prices vary, but generally, you should not have to pay more than 1000 Dram for a trip into town. Most taxi drivers speak a smattering of basic English, and know the names of the main tourist hotels, but as Armenian and Russian are still the main languages, you may struggle to make yourself understood if you are going off the beaten track. The Armenian language and written script is unique and difficult for foreigners to decipher, but fortunately, since independence, more and more signage is being written in English as well.GETTING AROUNDThe city is broadly laid out on a grid system and relatively easy to navigate. Provided you have a sensible pair of shoes, eyes in the back of your head and watch approaching traffic like a hawk, Yerevan is an eminently walkable city which has much to offer the observant tourist. There is an incredibly cheap one-line, ten-stop Metro that is squeaky clean and ultra-reliable that connects the centre of the city with the outer suburbs. It operates from 6:30 to 23:00, and tokens, bought from sullen-faced booth operators, cost a measly 50 Dram whatever distance you travel. The stops of most interest will be Hrabarag (Republic Square), Sasuntsi David, which serves the main railway station and is home to the impressive statue of the same name, and Marshall Bagramian, which serves the Parliament and the American University.Apart from the Metro, the city operates a chaotic tram-bus, traditional bus and mini-bus system which I found far too daunting to use. There are no clear directions at the bus stops as to which buses go where. You have to rely on the signs (in Armenian, but sometimes English as well) in the front and side windows of each bus - if you are quick enough to catch them. The Soviet-era Lada and Volga taxis, which you simply flag down, are the most efficient and cost effective way of getting around. Most journeys within the city will cost around 600 Dram, but drivers will always profess to having no change. With the smallest value note being 1000 Dram, it pays to carry the right change if you are particularly cost conscious. There is no need to tip drivers.SOME OF THE MAIN SIGHTSOpera DistrictOpera and its immediate surroundings provide the focal point for the Yerevan social scene. The area, which is roughly bounded by Mashdots, Terian, Sayat Nova and Tumanian Street is dominated by the squat, circular Opera house with its bas-relief Doric columns. The building houses two concert halls and has been providing world class performances since opening its doors in 1932. The area around Opera is packed with attractive outdoor cafes and bars, which both tourists and locals flock to day and night. It is the only central city location I have ever been to where you can get a coffee for less than 50p, or a beer for less than £1.Republic Square"Hrabarag", which used to be Lenin Square, is the off-centre focal point in the southern part of Yerevan. Arranged in a rough circle, its constituent buildings show the nuance, detail and style of Armenian Soviet architecture at its best. The main building material is local tufa stone, a porous, volcanic rock that comes in various colours, of which the most prized are the orange-pink shades. The main feature of the Square are the fountains in front of the museum, which offer colourful nightly displays set to classical and popular music. Not quite on the scale of the Bellagio, but worth watching nonetheless. Proceedings kick off around 8:30pm and last around twenty minutes.MadenataranAt the top end of Mashdots Street, built into the side of a hill, and overlooked by the giant statue of "Mother Armenia", is the Madenataran – a museum and research institute which houses Armenia’s vast collection of historic illuminated manuscripts, books and documents. The display area of the museum is surprisingly small, with two, well illuminated main halls showing perhaps one percent of the treasures stored within it. The rest are stored in a secure vault bored deep into the side of the hill and are not accessible to the public. Fruit MarketAlmost directly across the street from the mosque is a covered fruit and vegetable market which is best visited early in the day (at least before noon) to catch the colourful displays of dried fruit, herbs and spice, and traditional Armenian produce such as cherries, apricots, grapes and pomegranates. Given the vibrant, chaotic atmosphere inside at its busiest, it is easy to overlook the uninspiring, dilapidated and crumbling interior. Armenian stall owners can haggle and hawk with the best of them, so it’s not an environment for the shy or easily intimidated.CascadeDirectly north of the Opera is a complex of planted terraces and fountains built like set of giant steps into the hillside and called "the Cascade". You can walk up the exterior steps (it’s quite a long and tiring walk), stopping periodically to take in the ever expansive views of the city and Mt Ararat - or there is a series of escalators that run underneath the complex which run all the way to the top. DzidzernagapertThe "Fortress of Swallows" is the name given to the hilltop area to the south of the centre which houses the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum. This evocative memorial commemorates the million and a half Armenians slaughtered by the Young Turk regime between 1915 and 1918 in the first genocide of a bloody twentieth century. The memorial, built in the late 1960’s – shortly after the 50th anniversary of the genocide - consists of an arrow-shaped granite stele and twelve inward leaning granite slabs which shelter an eternal flame. The underground museum is a relatively recent and very welcome addition, built into the hill to ensure that the focus remained on the imposing main monument.The VernissageThe oddly named Vernissage is a weekend open air flea market, just off Republic Square on a natty bit of parkland adjacent to the Metro station, seemingly full of the entire collected bric-a-brac of the good citizens of Yerevan. The market is broadly divided into sections for clothing, souvenirs, jewellery, china, household goods, militaria, books, crafts and art. As with the fruit market, be prepared to haggle - it’s not unusual to pay a third of the initial asking price - which tends to start higher or lower depending on how (a) rich; (b) foreign and (c) gullible you look, in no particular order. Other SightsOther attractions recommended to me (but I didn’t have time to visit) were the Erebuni Museum complex, Victory Park (which hosts the Mother Armenia statue), the Museum of the City of Yerevan at City Hall, and the Ararat Brandy factory, which offers guided tours on the making of Armenian cognac. FOOD & DRINKEating and drinking seems to be a national pastime. Armenian food is generally meat based, with pork, lamb and chicken khorovadz (barbecue) a speciality. For good, filling and cheap fast food, any number of "shawarma" (barbecued meat served in flatbread – think doner/gyro) and/or lahmajun (Armenian meat pizza) places are a great option. There are a string of these places on Toumanian Street – a sandwich and a drink should set you back no more than 1000 dram (£1.40). For a sit down meal at a café or full service restaurant, with drinks, expect to pay around 10,000 Dram a head (£15), more if live music is being played.WHY GO?There is enough to see and do in Yerevan to keep you well occupied for a whole week, but those short on time can see and do most of the major sights in around three days. The best time to go is Mid April to Late June, and then September and October. The summer gets unbearably hot with temperatures reaching 40C. The place closes down for the winter, as it gets bitterly cold, rendering the outdoor facilities that create much of the city’s atmosphere unusable.© Hishyeness 2010 Close
Written by dangaroo on 04 Mar, 2009
When I visited Yerevan in December last year, a rock bar had just newly opened. I was keen to check it out as soon as I heard - if there's a place to rock, then surely it's Yerevan! It has to be said be…Read More
When I visited Yerevan in December last year, a rock bar had just newly opened. I was keen to check it out as soon as I heard - if there's a place to rock, then surely it's Yerevan! It has to be said be said that as nice as Armenia's cafe culture is, there must have been a desperate need for a rock pub until this one came along. It's really a metal pub, the music is loud, the pub is smokey and posters dedicated to the gods of metal adorn the walls. Beer is cold and reasonably priced, the music rocks, hot meals and snacks are available and the pub keeps sane hours - opening at 4pm and closing at 4am. Whether it's the cosy hours before people finish work which gives you time to talk to the owner/bar couple about your favourite bands or stay in Yerevan or the crowded and sociable atmosphere that grows later on that you like, there's something for every metal fan. This place is also a hang out for metal bands visiting the region as the bar owner is extremely active in such circles and a musician himself, this is definitely the place to rock! A wide range of styles of metal from heavy to thrash to black metal to the bar's favourite of pagan or viking metal is played here, it's not everyone's cup of tea but a friendly locale which is definitely a metalhead's dream. The pub is centrally located on Parpeti 16 and ideal for a lot of visitors as it is right next to Yerevan's best youth hostel.With nice cool beer starting at 600 dram, I could easily live there! Make use of some of the great promotions - they have a $1 shot, a 2500 dram voucher to be used in the pub to be won on quiz nights and a 10% discount on Sundays. Close
Written by dangaroo on 18 Dec, 2008
Whilst I imagine that most peoples visits to Zvarnots International Airport in Yerevan are uneventful are straight forward, this wasn't the case for me! Having arrived from Sharjah, UAE after very little sleep for about 40 hours - I was initially surprised to see that…Read More
Whilst I imagine that most peoples visits to Zvarnots International Airport in Yerevan are uneventful are straight forward, this wasn't the case for me! Having arrived from Sharjah, UAE after very little sleep for about 40 hours - I was initially surprised to see that the terminals looked rather new (the airport underwent renovation recently), not only that but the Armenians were all fairly orderly and didn't seem to pushing and shoving to get in to the queue, the norm in ex-USSR countries in my experience.I headed to the visa section which was quite quiet and began filling in my immigration card, the Armenian visa is usually 30 dollars but at the airport it is 50 dollars and this stumped me, I had only about 40 dollars on me, so the woman behind the counter organised a policeman to escort me through customs to the bank machine on the other side, much to the confusion of the other police officers there. Things didn't get much better as the bank card didn't work and I was left searching for plans and tried to ask for the transit visa which would last for 3 days and do me fine - to get a transit visa though, it is necessary to have your onward flight ticket. I did have that but it was in my main luggage which of course was on the other side of customs, so back to the police office - asked a few questions, sent through another metal detector, few jokes with the police offers and back to the luggage carousel which of course is empty now due to everyone being long gone.We then hunt for my luggage which had been moved out by my new found friend that I had made at Sharjah and who was waiting to give me a lift to the center - eventually after finding him, he storms back to the visa place and just hands them 50 dollars for the visa and away we go!I have to say that everyone, police included were really pretty nice albeit very confused and my mish mash of Russian and hand gestures with a little help from the woman at the tourist information desk wasn't really helping!Leaving wasn't much better as I was skint by this time and the bank card still wasn't working, I'd tried my bank card for the last 2 days before my flight to no success. The airport was about 20km from the part of Yerevan, I was staying in and my flight was at 5.30Am, so i figured with no money on me if I left at midnight, I'd get there in time - someone had told me of a 10,000 dram (30 dollars) departure tax to be paid at the airport before you can get your boarding card- exactly 10,000 dram I didn't have, so I figured that I would just try to talk my way through customs. No other options really!So off I start walking, across the bridge and along a pavement next to a rather quiet unlit two-lane highway, after being ferociously attacked by a really pissed off savage dog which changed his mind when I swung my backpack at him. After about 10km and at 1.30am, a guy in a lada gave me a lift to the airport.The airport is the craziest shape, a circular alien looking building with heaters blowing furiously but not particularly warm air just above every seat. Despite pleaing with the woman at the office, she didn't seem to believe me and said it was against the rules and I wouldn't be able to fly - so away I went to try the bank card one more time and amazingly it worked and I managed to get out exactly 10,000 dram! Off to border control, have both index fingers pressed into a little electronic machine (same on the way in) and into an unbelievably modern terminal - an empty one with some plasma screen tvs, duty free - I was even able to use wireless free there, very impressive indeed.It's really quite a nice airport but you have to be aware of the inflated visa price for arriving by air and also the departure tax. Close
Written by fizzytom on 31 Oct, 2008
Mother Armenia is a giant statue that watches over the city from Victory Park; basically she is the female personification of Armenia. In Armenian the statue is known as "Mayr Hayastan". In it's place used to be a stature of Stalin, but, for obvious reasons…Read More
Mother Armenia is a giant statue that watches over the city from Victory Park; basically she is the female personification of Armenia. In Armenian the statue is known as "Mayr Hayastan". In it's place used to be a stature of Stalin, but, for obvious reasons it was removed and replaced with this statue 1967.The statue was designed by Ara Harutyunyan depicts Mother Armenia holding a sword; this is said to reflect the high standing of the matriarch figure in Armenian families and also to commemorate some of the notable women who have taken up arms in clashes with Turkish troops.An architect, Raphael Israelian, designed the pedestal that the statue stands on. This was designed to resemble and Armenian church (from the inside). Sadly, it is virtually impossible to get Armenia's matriarch into a single frame such is her height and the size of the plaza she sits on. The easiest way to get to Victory Park is to climb the steps or take the escalators in the Cascades Monument in the centre of town which will take you within a five minute walk of the statue.Underneath her pedestal the museum of the Ministry of Defence - a small exhibition dedicated to the war in Nagorno Karabakh, the breakaway region of southern Armenia where there was terrible bloodshed in the eighties and nineties. It is almost entirely captioned in Armenian or Russian but it is still moving and the photographs manage to convey much. Close
Written by walkman on 28 Jul, 2000
One can say 'What is so special about trams in Yerevan?' Maybe nothing.
But have you ever seen a tramway wagon which is about 15 years old,
rusty from the bottom to the top, and still working in the streets?
You can see such wagons Yerevan.…Read More
One can say 'What is so special about trams in Yerevan?' Maybe nothing.
But have you ever seen a tramway wagon which is about 15 years old,
rusty from the bottom to the top, and still working in the streets?
You can see such wagons Yerevan. I feel that they are something like local attractions, however no one
says that they are. But if these wagons disappear from Yerevan, it will make me really sad... Close
Written by lusine23 on 05 Feb, 2007
They had numerous museums and galleries well known for their names. From old history of the country to their famous painters they have it all.…Read More
They had numerous museums and galleries well known for their names. From old history of the country to their famous painters they have it all. Close