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 D

Cross Nalbandyan St. and continue down the central walkway, which passes (right) the Statue to Mikhail Nalbandyan Statue (34) (sculptor Nikoghayos Nikoghosian).  Mikhail Nalbandyan (1829-1866) was born in Nor Nakhichevan (now Rostov-on-Don) in a family of Armenian craftsmen.  Largely self-educated, he initially pursued priesthood, then studied medicine briefly at Moscow University (1854-58) before collaborating with the writer Stepanos Nazaryan in founding the influential periodical, Aurora Borealis (Hiusisapail).  

 

In a time when revolts in European seemed destined to erupt in Russia (1859-1861), Nalbandyan was one of the first Armenian writers to support revolutionary democracy, in the magazines Kolokol (Bell) and Sovremenik (Contemporary), and in his travels to Europe, India and Constantinople, the last where he established a secret society named Party of the Young at the Armenian magazine Meghu (Bee). 

In London he befriended and joined the Russian revolutionaries Hertzen, Ogarev, Bakunin in writing "What the People Need."  His main work was the 1862 article "Agriculture is the Only Way," where he harshly criticized the peasant reform of 1861, writing that a peasant revolution was the only way to truly reform Russia.  Returning to Russia in 1862, he was arrested, charged with distributing propaganda against the tsar, and imprisoned, exiled in 1865 to a remote area in Saratov province, where he died a year later of Tuberculosis.  During the 19th c, it was forbidden to read his work or even possess his picture; but his portrait with a copy of his poem "Liberty" written in the margins was secretly circulated and his fame grew despite the ban.

On the opposite corner there is a café and a couple of lahmajo/sharma eateries (cheap eats).  The central fountains (35) in front is remembered by generations of university and institute graduates who sweated out their entry exam results there, a ritual that continues today (come by in July-August to commiserate). 

Just past is a small delight, an aviary (36) filled with exotic birds, including a rare white peacock when we visited.  The birds come from around the globe and are in good health, seeming to enjoy the attention they get by students and couples strolling by.  Bird keeps line both sides of the central walkway.  Just past on the left in a small bend is an evocative  Memorial Khachkar to the Artsakh Victims (37), the front cross panel carved as a door set ajar, flames leaping from the open crevice.  On the right is the Siro Arahet (Path of Love) Café (38).

A foot bridge crosses the Getar River, a streamlet hemmed in by rock walls sadly strewn with litter, its spring water once a primary source of drinking water for the city (thankfully, not now).  To your left, straddling the river is a café (39)

After the bridge, you enter a part of the Ring Park known as Usanoghakan Aigi facing the large Yerevan State University (40) on Alek Manukian St. (nee Isahakian St.).  The university serves 24,000 students in a large number of disciplines, and has a fine library in the main building with one-of-a-kind edition books.  In front of the main building there is a small statue to Sahak Partev and Mesrop Mashtots (41) (sculptor Ara Sarksian), accepted as the sponsor and creator of the current Armenian alphabet.  The statue which was originally intended to be erected in large size in front of Matenadaran, but refused by (story A) the communists because it depicted religious figures or (story B) was refused by the church because Sarksian was an atheist.  You choose. 

Another in the yard is to the medieval historian Movses Khorenatsi (42) (1996, sculptor A. Poghosian).  Directly in front are cafes (43), more or less connected to the Ararat Tennis Club (44) (12 Alek Manukian St., tel. 57-06-48), university tennis courts open to the public with some excellent instructors and its own cafe. 

Continue past the tennis club, where the park sidewalk winds through some trees and passes more cafes before ending at the backside of the Chess House (45) and a small statue to Chess champion Tigran Petrossian (46) (sculptor north.  Nikoghosian), of whom World Chess winner Gari Kasparov once said (with pure Kasparov arrogance), “I am No. 1.  There is no number 2.  But only Tigran Petrossian can be No. 3.”  Hmmm.  The Chess House supports the chess federation and a large café-restaurant on the ground floor. 

Café (47) is at the southwest corner of the block, just after the Chess House, and opposite a large Restaurant Complex (48), at the corner of Sayat Nova Ave. and Khanjian (nee Moskovian) St. 

On the other side of the café (in the park) there is a grassy clearing with the large Yeghishe Charents Monument (49) (sculptor Nikoghayos Nikoghosian), a polished granite platform with a long trench and 40 pomegranate fountain heads lining the south side.  The tall series of towers has a large bust of the writer’s head on one side with larger-than-life size human figures on other sides, representing characters from his poems.  It is a moody piece full of symbolism hard to fathom, but kids love to slide on the polished platform after it rains.  There is another café on the other side of the monument, across from the Radio Tun (50) (Radio House), a fine Soviet constructivist building still boasting the SSR crest.  


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