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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Map C

Cross Abovyan St. where Statue of a Woman (28) sits, right outside of more cafes (29).  Head towards the Komitas Chamber Music Hall (30) (1 Isahakian St., tel. 52-67-18), home to the Armenian Chamber Orchestra (weekend concerts), and performances by a variety of classical musicians.  The walkway to the chamber hall is flanked by a café with fountain, and a trade hall/café. 

To the south of the hall there is a small square with a statue to Hovhannes (Ivan) Aivazovski (31) (sculptor Yuri Petrosian), a phenomenon of the 19th c art world, best known  for his seascapes and his manipulation of light and shadow that dominated the art world until his death in 1900. 

Aivazovski was born in 1817 in Theodosia, Crimea, to a poor Armenian family, achieving fame in Europe soon after graduating from the St. Petersburg Art Academy, where he was elected to five European Academies and given the medal of the French Legion of Honor.

The French artists Eugene Delacroix revered his work while the English Turner called him a genius.  In 1845, Aivazovski went to Istanbul by invitation of Sultan Abdulmesid, a city he was to visit eight times between 1845-1890, during which he was commissioned for a number of paintings as a court painter by the Ottoman Sultans Abdulmesid, Abdulaziz and Abdulhamid, 30 of which are currently on display in the Ottoman Imperial Palace and other museums in Turkey.  The genocide of Armenians and Greeks by Abdulhamid in 1894 greatly affected Aivazovski; he threw the medal he received from the Sultan into the sea and began painting haunting scenes of the tragedy, including his last, unfinished work, "The Explosion of the Turkish Ship," in 1900.  

Due as much to his long life as his capacity for work, Aivazovski became the most prolific Russian painter of his time, leaving over 6,000 works at his death.  His works have been auctioned for as much as $3,200,000 and his international reputation continues to grow.  He is also said to be the most forged of all Russian painters.

Across from the statue is the entry to Ajarian University (32), and a little down, the Youth Theatre (33), once the Communist Youth League offices and theatre.  The crest of the building boasts some nicely done friezes of Soviet youth (the Pioneers) and two large bas relief figures; the left of Lenin and the right once of Stalin, rubbed out and replaced with Shahumian.  Across the other side of the hall (Isahakian St.), there are a number of businesses (beginning from the Abovyan/Isahakian corner): Pizza joints, cafes, ATM, bars and discos. 


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