Yerevan Walking Tour

The best way to get acquainted with Yerevan is to do as the locals do and walk. This both saves time (parking is impossible and traffic jams are now par for the course, adding 20-30 minutes to what were once 5 minute jaunts) while allowing you to savor the sights and sounds of the city.

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Hrazdan Gorge

Hrazdan Gorge

The Hrazdan Gorge cuts through Yerevan, dividing the center-east communities from the west.  More than a barrier that has to be crossed, the river gorge is a unique habitat for several endemic flora found only in the canyon, with a dramatically different climate than that above the rim.  While the upper rim will be parched dry in the summer, the bottom of the canyon is moist and cool year round, fed by the waters of the Hrazdan river and its feeder canals, legacies of the Urartian Empire. 

Now treated as a playground for the up and coming classes and horribly neglected by locals, the river canyon still has wild spaces, where fauna like rabbit, fox, lynx and even a (rarely) stray wild cat can be found.  When the river floods, water courses over the asphalt roads that have been laid on either side of the river. 

As the river cafes and restaurants, who derive their income from  the natural beauty and cool breezes coming off the river, clean off the trash (doing a fairly good job of it, relatively speaking), the canyon assumes a bit of its former glory, when teeming stands of trees towered above the 100m canyon walls and mossy grass blanketed rocky surfaces.   Each year the annual wildflower bloom continues, in wet years the canyon walls are blanketed with red and orange poppies. 

The canyon’s green belt officially extends throughout the length of the city, but in reality, what is really ‘green’ and worth a stroll is bordered by Haghtanak Bridge (between the Cognac and Wine factories) in the south and just above Kievian Bridge in the north, about 2.5 km of woodlands, rugged cliffs and grass, interrupted every 100 m or so by one of Yerevan’s “theme restaurants”, straddling the river.  Their questionable taste in music and design aside, these are the coolest places in a sweltering summer, and so over the top they are worth a visit just to gawk.  These include a Teutonic castle, a moored ship, a bear’s den and a restaurant looking it came out of a Flintstones movie.

There is also a popular children’s park with its own rail line and some kiddy rides in a newly redone park with stone carvings. And this park is worth the visit!

The canyon has a couple of early morning running trails, combining sidewalks, aqueduct and the paved road into a 2.5 to 5 km route, most of it shaded by trees.  There is an exercise stop on the Left Bank, with chin-up bars and a place to stretch, do sit-ups and pushups.  A new phenomenon is the growing number of bicyclists that take to the canyon, continuing on the right bank road that follows the canyon to Davitashen bridge (2.6 km).  

WALKING TOUR

The walking tour takes about 2-3 hours, more if you stop at the children’s park or to eat at one of the restaurants.  Begin at Boulevard Park, on Mashtots Ave.  (behind Malibu Café to the end of the park, where two tunnels begin)

The park is two blocks from Hanrapetutian H’raparak (Republic Square).  To get there from the Square, go northwest on Amirian St. to Mashtots Ave., cross the street and turn right, going northeast on Mashtots one block to the Boulevard, which is behind a café.  Take the central sidewalks northwest through the park to the end, where the pedestrian tunnels are.

Take the left tunnel. The 250m pedestrian tunnel connects boulevard (and the center) with the gorge, running underneath the Post Office tower and Kond neighborhood into the canyon.  On weekends in good weather there is also a motorized Tram that takes people through the tunnel to the children’s park.

An alternate route is to go up Byuzand incline to Saryan Street and cross over to KOND district, then across Proshyan to Hrazdan Hotel and down the asphalt into the Gorge.


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