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.

1/2733/ringf.jpg

Map F

Just across Vardanants are a couple of cafes and the massive Vartan Mamikonian Statue (67) (sculptor Yervand Kochar), depicted charging horseback with a raised sword. 

Mamikonian was an Armenian prince in the 5th century, who led an ill-fated charge against the Persian army at the battle of Avaraiyr, during an Armenian revolt against Sassanid Persian  attempts to convert the country to Manichaeism (a form of Zoroastrianism).  Equipped with overwhelming forces (including the Immortals) and a Calvary of elephants, the Persians dispatched the Armenian rivals, killing Mamikonian in the battle. 

Winning the battle, the Persians lost the war, as Armenian fighters literally took to the hills, waging a guerilla war of attrition, slowly wearing down the Persians until the Sassanids recognized Armenia’s right to freedom of worship.  The battle of Avaraiyr is called by Armenians the first battle in history over freedom of conscience, a claim disputed by many historians. 

The statue faces Cinema House (68) wedged between two new apartment tenements and Vernissage (69), a large weekend flea market/crafts and jewelry market, with everything from tools and hardware to fine jewelry, hand-woven carpets, embroidery, wood and stone carvings, ceramics and art work, antiques, china, books, soviet paraphernalia—you just about name it, you can find it at this long stretch of market capitalism.  A few stalls work during on weekdays. 

Facing Vernissage on its side streets are the State Song Theatre (70) (13a Khanjian St., tel. 56-67-90, 56-70-44, 56-67-92, 54-42-50, email: griganit@freenet.am), which presents popular singers and a lot of wannabes in its weekly amateur shows; NPAK Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (71), 1/3 Pavstos Biuzand St., tel. 56-82-25, 56-83-25, email:  accea@netsys.am, URL: www.accea.org) which presents Performance Art and solo performances in its large modern hall; and Naregatsi Art Institute (72) (16/1 Vardanants St., tel. 58-01-05, email: suzy@naregatsi.org, URL: www.naregatsi.org), a wonderful gallery/ performance hall with rotating exhibitions, film and video showings, concerts and performances.

Behind the statue are still more cafes, and  the “Shinanuyt (Builder’s) poghots (73),” or south Vardanants St., crammed with shops selling building materials. 

Continue down the park (take the steps) into a grove of trees with less kept grounds.  This area is more popular with students and working class families, and so less pretentious than the previous block.  Taking the sidewalk closest to Manukain St., you pass several cafes (74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80) before reaching a crosswalk that connects Manukian with Khanjian streets.  Continuing on the path closest to Manukian St., you reach a pond on the left, at the base of the massive Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral (81)

On your right a larger pond appears, with paddleboats, the cafes lining the far side (82, 83, 84).  The modernist statue “Mother” (85) (sculptor Khoren Ter-Harutian) stands in the water.  As you continue along your side of the pond, you will see a series of stone steps on your left that lead to the front entry of the church; take these to the top plaza.

The large Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral (81) is a recent addition to Yerevan’s skyline, its consecration timed to coincide with the 2001 celebrations of 1700 years of Christianity as a state religion.  Taking most of the SE end of the park, the church was the first large structure to be erected in the post Soviet period, and the start of a building boom that has yet to stop.   

With your back to the front of the church, in front and to your right there is a plaza with the large Zoravar Andranik Statue (86) (sculptor Yervand Kochar) as its focal point.  Zoravar Andranik (Andranik Torosi Ozanian), was born in 1865 in the town of Shapin-Garahisar, Ottoman Turkey (present-day Giresun Province, Turkey).  At the age of 14 or 15, Andranik joined Armenian resistance partisans (the Fedaiiyi), against Ottoman forces, and was captured and imprisoned.  On his release he moved to Constantinople, where he worked as a carpenter. Moving to Batumi, he rejoined the resistance, fighting in Kars, Sasun and at Msho Arakelots, establishing his fame in several key battles. 

Andranik fought in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) as a commander of Armenian auxiliary troops alongside General Garegin Nzhdeh.  During World War I, he participated in the Caucasus Campaign and was appointed general of the Armenian volunteer units in the Russian army, helping to free the city of Van, defending Bitlis against forces led by Mastafal Kemal, and supporting the migration of Armenians from Van to Eastern Armenia in 1918, when Turkey renewed the genocide. 

He then moved to Zangezur (present day Siunik), saving native Armenians and repelling attempts by troops from Azerbaijan and Turkey to capture the territory and create a Pan-Turkic Empire stretching to Central Asia.  Andranik refused to participate in peace talks that gave western Armenian to Turkey, moving to Fresno where he hoped to plan a new offensive to liberate his homeland.  He never returned, dying in Fresno in 1927.  For his courage, audacity in battle and tactical genius, as much as for his saving thousands of Armenians from slaughter, Andranik is the closest thing to a modern saint Armenia has, his picture worn as a talisman by soldiers in battles in World War II and Karabakh, many measuring their own bravery against his legacy.

To the side of the Andranik statue there is Lunar Park (87) (loads of fun for a few dollars) and at the farthest corner the Alexander Griboyedov Statue (88) (1973, sculptor H. Bejanian). 

Griboyedov (1795-1829) was a Russian diplomat, playwright, and composer, recognized as homo unius libri, a writer of one book, whose fame rests on the brilliant verse comedy “Woe from Wit”, still one of the most often staged plays in Russia.  When first written, the play was rejected by the censors for its satire of the Russian nobility, and was not published in the writer’s lifetime, instead distributed secretly. 

Griboyedov saw only one performance of his work, in 1827, at the defeated Shah’s palace in the Yerevan fortress, performed by officers of the garrison stationed there.  This marks the beginning of Armenia’s modern theatrical tradition.  Griboyedov first visited Yerevan in 1819, returning as chief diplomat for his relative Count Ivan Paskevich during a campaign against Persia, and was sent to St. Petersburg with the Treaty of Turkmenchai of 1828 (which guaranteed the right of Armenians to emigrate to Eastern Armenia). 

Soon after he was sent to Persia as Minister Plenipotentiary, where a crowd of Islamic religious fanatics, incited by the British ambassador, stormed the Russian embassy. Griboyedov (along with almost everyone else inside) was slaughtered, and his body was for three days so ill-treated by the mob that it was at last recognized only by an old scar on the hand, due to a wound received in a duel.  A famous statue at the Pushkin Pass in Lori marz marks the return of the writer’s body to Russia, met by Alexander Pushkin en route.

The park ends at Tigran Mets St., a street teeming with pedestrians, cars and shops of all kinds.   Directly in front of the church is the huge Kino Rossiya (89) building facing the church.  The theatre, with two wings for roofing (best seen from the side of the building) house two large theatres, now defunct.  The roofing is designed to resemble both the outline of Ararat and a large ship, a.k.a. Noah’s Ark.  The lower levels have been taken over by trade halls with dozens of kiosks and knock-off production hawkers that is slowly going upscale.  Under Kino Rossiya is the Zoravar Andranik Metro station, a ride to metro stops at Republic Square, Yeridasardakan, Baghramian and Barekamutiun to the north, or Sasuntsi Davit (train station) and Charbakh neighborhood to the south.  Behind and above Kino Rossiya there is a small parking lot (90).

Head north on Tigran Mets and in a couple of blocks you reach Republic Square (91), passing a number of exchange shops, and the entrance to the claustrophobic but dirt cheap Firdusi outdoor market (soup to nuts). Head south in one block, passing several Persian shops, you will pass the modern Tashir Shopping Mall where shops sell the same items you can find at on the street but at a premium, next to a large Shuka (fresh produce and fantastic dried fruits), across from Sil Hotel. 

Side trip: Head south on Tigran Mets and in about 600 meters you pass the Museum of Natural History ending up in another 500 meter at the David Sasuntsi Train Station (92)

Side trip: Head west on the street that was Khanjian (now Agatangeghos) and in a block you will pass the construction site of the State Circus (93), which when finished will continue its 75 year tradition of bringing fun to kids of all ages.  There is a small café in the small park and in front of the circus, the Leonid Yengibarian Statue (1995, sculptor Levon Tokmajian), one of the most famous clowns of the Soviet Union. 

Yengibarian (1935-1972), was born in Moscow, in 1935.  Before devoting his life to circus, Yengibarian (Yengibarov) had tried various other trades, including boxing (winning several bouts in 1952-1953) and gymnastics before entering the newly formed State Circus School in 1955.  Graduating in 1959, Yengibarian joined the Yerevan Circus, where he began to perform his now legendary routines, which, unlike the stock-in-trade shtick that his fellow clowns performed to get laughs, but routine that were more reflective, at times even sad.  The result was immediate debate about his acts, at first condemned for not being funny enough, then gradually winning acclaim for their humanity.  Perhaps for the first time Yengibarian began to create poetic clowning in the circus arena; certainly in the Soviet Union, which designed its shows to entertain only. 

Critics praised Yengibarian for creating a character that was funny and sad at the same time, in short, human.  One quote says, "He was a clown with an autumn in his heart."  Yengibarian died in 1972 at age 37. 

End Ring Park Walking Tour.


0 reviews from our community

Very Poor
Poor
Average
Good
Excellent
00000
0

Be the first to write a review

Download our app

General sponsors

Armenia

USAID

Implementation of the BSSRC project in Armenia and development of the BSSRC web portal and mobile applications were co-funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) project. The contents of the web portal and mobile applications are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

The Honorary Consul for Italy in Gyumri

ARMINCO

Armenian Travel Bureau

Georgia

Greece

Turkey

Login using social accounts