Friday, January 27, 2012

Yerevan; the Capital City of Armenia

Yerevan (Armenian: Երևան or Երեւան, Armenian pronunciation: [jɛɾɛˈvɑn]) (Arabic: یریفان), (Persian: ایروان) (Urdu: یریوان) is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country. It has been the capital since 1918, the thirteenth in the history of Armenia.

The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. After World War I, Yerevan became the capital of the Democratic Republic of Armenia as thousands of survivors of the Armenian Genocide settled in the area. The city expanded rapidly during the 20th century as Armenia became one of the fifteen republics in the Soviet Union. In fifty years, Yerevan was transformed from a town of a few thousand residents within the Russian Empire, to Armenia's principal cultural, artistic, and industrial center, as well as becoming the seat of national government.

With the growth of the economy of the country, Yerevan has been undergoing major transformation as many parts of the city have been the recipient of new construction since the early 2000s, and retail outlets such as restaurants, shops and street cafes, which were rare during Soviet times, have multiplied.

In 2010, the population of Yerevan was estimated to be 1,119,000 people 34% of all the population of Armenia.

Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO.

Etymology and symbols:

One theory regarding the origin of Yerevan's name is the city was named after the Armenian king, Yervand IV (the Last), the last leader of the Orontid Dynasty, and founder of the city of Yervandashat. However, it is likely that the city's name is derived from the Urartian military fortress of Erebuni (Էրեբունի), which was founded on the territory of modern-day Yerevan in 782 BC by Argishti I. As elements of the Urartian language blended with that of the Armenian one, the name eventually evolved into Yerevan (Erebuni = Erevani = Erevan = Yerevan). Scholar Margarit Israelyan notes these changes when comparing inscriptions found on two cuneiform tablets at Erebuni:

The transcription of the second cuneiform bu [original emphasis] of the word was very essential in our interpretation as it is the Urartaean b that has been shifted to the Armenian v (b > v). The original writing of the inscription read «er-bu-ni»; therefore the prominent Armenianologist-orientalist Prof. G. A. Ghapantsian justly objected, remarking that the Urartu b changed to v at the beginning of the word (Biani > Van) or between two vowels (ebani > avan, Zabaha > Javakhk)....In other words b was placed between two vowels. The true pronunciation of the fortress-city was apparently Erebuny.
Early Christian Armenian chroniclers attributed the origin of the name, "Yerevan," to a derivation from an expression exclaimed by Noah, in Armenian. While looking in the direction of Yerevan, after the ark had landed on Mount Ararat and the flood waters had receded, Noah is believed to have exclaimed, "Yerevats!" ("it appeared!"). 

In Armenian manuscripts, Yerevan was also mentioned as Erevan, Erewan, Ervan, Eruan, Arevan, Iravan (Irevan), Revan and Ayravan.

However, the predominant former names of the city are Erebuni and Erevan.

The principal symbol of Yerevan is Mount Ararat, which is visible from any area in the capital. The seal of the city is a crowned lion on a pedestal with the inscription "Yerevan." The lion's head is turned backwards while it holds a scepter using the right front leg, the attribute of power and royalty. The symbol of eternity is on the breast of the lion with a picture of Ararat in the upper part. The emblem is a rectangular shield with a blue border.

On 27 September 2004, Yerevan adopted a hymn, "Erebuni-Yerevan", written by Paruyr Sevak and composed by Edgar Hovhanissian. It was selected in a competition for a new hymn and new flag that would best represent the city. The chosen flag has a white background with the city's seal in the middle, surrounded by twelve small red triangles that symbolize the twelve historic capitals of Armenia. The flag includes the three colours of the Armenian National flag. The lion is portrayed on the orange background with blue edging.


Early history

The ancient kingdom of Van (Ararat or Urartu or Biainili), was formed in the 9th century BC in the basin of Lake Van of the Armenian Highland, including the territory of modern-day Yerevan. King Arame was the founder of the state which was one of the most developed states of its age. 

However, the territory of Yerevan-Erebuni was settled in the fourth millennium B.C., fortified settlements from the Bronze Age include Shengavit, Tsitsernakaberd, Teishebaini, Arin Berd, Karmir Berd and Berdadzor. Archaeological evidence, such as a cuneiform inscription, indicates that the Urartian military fortress of Erebuni (Էրեբունի) was founded in 782 BC (29 years earlier than Rome) by the orders of King Argishti I at the site of current-day Yerevan, to serve as a fort and citadel guarding against attacks from the north Caucasus. Yerevan, as mentioned, is one of the most ancient cities in the world.

The cuneiform inscription found at Erebuni Fortress reads:

By the greatness of the God Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, built this mighty stronghold and proclaimed it Erebuni for the glory of Biainili [Urartu] and to instill fear among the king's enemies. Argishti says, "The land was a desert, before the great works I accomplished upon it. By the greatness of Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, is a mighty king, king of Biainili, and ruler of Tushpa."
Between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, Yerevan was one of the main centers of the Armenian satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. During the height of Urartian power, irrigation canals and an artificial reservoir were built on Yerevan's territory. 

In 585 BC, the fortress of Teishebaini (Karmir Blur), thirty miles to the north of Yerevan, was destroyed by an alliance of Medes and the Scythians.

Due to the absence of historical data, the timespan between the fourth century BC and the third century AD is known as the "Yerevan Dark Ages."

Armenia became a Christian nation in 301. The first church in Yerevan; the church of St. Peter and Paul, was built in the fifth century, and was demolished in 1931 to build a cinema hall. The Tsiranavor Church (595-602) of Avan district which was partly damaged in the 1679 earthquake, is the city's oldest surviving church.

Arab, Persian and Ottoman rule:

In 658 AD, Yerevan was conquered, during the height of Arab invasions. Since then, and as a result of the Arab trade activities, the site has been strategically important as a crossroads for the Arab caravan routes passing between Europe and India through lands controlled by the Arabs. It has been known as "Yerevan" since at least the seventh century AD. Between the ninth and eleventh centuries, Yerevan was a secure part of the Armenian Bagratuni Kingdom, before being overrun by Seljuks. The city was seized and pillaged by Tamerlane in 1387 and subsequently became an administrative center of the Ilkhanate. Due to its strategic significance, Yerevan was constantly fought over, and passed back and forth, between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans.

At the height of the Turkish-Persian wars, Yerevan changed hands fourteen times between 1513 and 1737. In 1604, under the order of Shah Abbas I, tens of thousands of Armenians including citizens from Yerevan were deported to Persia. As a consequence, population became 80 percent Muslim (Persians, Turco, Kurds) and 20 percent Armenian. Muslims were either sedentary, semi-sedentary, or nomadic. Armenians lived in Erevan or the villages. The Armenians dominated the various professions and trade in the area and were of great economic significance to the Persian administration. The Ottomans, Safavids, and Ilkhanids, all maintained a mint in Yerevan. During the 1670s, the Frenchman Jean Chardin visited Yerevan and gave a description of the city in his Travels of Cavalier Chardin in Transcaucasia in 1672-1673. On 7 June 1679, a devastating earthquake razed the city to the ground. During the Safavid Dynasty rule, Yerevan and adjacent territories were part of the Čoḵūr Saʿd administrative territory. This lasted until 1828, when the region was incorporated into Russian Empire.

Russian rule:

During the second Russian-Persian war, Yerevan was captured by Russian troops under general Ivan Paskevich on 1 October 1827. It was formally ceded by the Persians in 1828, following the Treaty of Turkmenchay. Tsarist Russia sponsored Armenian resettlement from Persia and Turkey. Due to the resettlement, Armenians' share in city population increased from 28% to 53.8%. The resettlement was intended to create Russian power bridgehead in the Middle East. In 1829, Armenian repatriates from Persia were resettled in the city and a new quarter was built.

Yerevan has served as the seat of the newly-formed Armenian Oblast between 1828-1840. By the time of Nicholas I's visit in 1837, Yerevan had become an uyezd. In 1840, the Armenian Oblast was dissolved and its territory incorporated into a larger new province; the Georgia-Imeretia Governorate. In 1850 the territory of the former oblast was tuned into reorganized into the Erivan Governorate. Yerevan was the centre of the newly established governorate until 1917, when Erivan governorate was dissolved.

Yerevan began to grow economically and politically, with old buildings torn down and new buildings in European style erected instead. The first general plan of the city was made in 1854, during which, St. Hripsime and St. Gayane women's colleges were opened and the English Park was founded. In 1874, Zacharia Gevorkian opened Yerevan's first printing house and in 1879 the first theatre, sited near the church of St. Peter and Paul, was established.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Yerevan city's population was over 29,000, of which 49% were Azerbaijani Tatars (today referred to as Azerbaijanis), 48% Armenians and 2% Russians. In 1902, a railway line linked Yerevan with Alexandropol, Tiflis and Julfa. In the same year, Yerevan's first public library was opened. In 1905, the grandnephew of Napoleon I; Prince Louis Joseph Jérôme Napoléon (1864–1932) was appointed as governor of Erivan province. 

In 1913, for the first time in the city, a telephone line with eighty subscribers became operational.

Brief independence (1917–1920)

At the start of the 20th century, Yerevan was a small town with a population of 30,000. In 1917, the Russian Empire ended with the October Revolution. In the aftermath, Armenian, Georgian and Muslim leaders of Transcaucasia united to form the Transcaucasian Federation and proclaimed Transcaucasia's secession.

The Federation, however, was short-lived and on 28 May 1918, the Dashnak leader Aram Manukian declared the independence of Armenia. Subsequently, Yerevan became the capital and the centre of the newly-independent Democratic Republic of Armenia, although the members of the Armenian National Council were yet to stay in Tiflis until their arrival in Yerevan to form the government in the summer of the same year.

On 26 May 1919, the government passed a law to open the Yerevan State University, which was situated on the main street of Yerevan, the Astafyan (now Abovyan) street.

However, after a short period of independence, on 29 November 1920, the Bolshevik 11th Red Army entered Yerevan during the Russian Civil War, on 29 November 1920, and Armenia was incorporated into the Soviet Union on 2 December 1920. Although nationalist forces managed to retake the city in February 1921, and successfully released all the political leaders, the city's nationalist elite were once again defeated by Soviet forces on 2 April 1921.

Soviet Yerevan

Yerevan became the capital of the newly formed Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. Yerevan was the first city in the Soviet Union, for which a general plan was developed. The "General Plan of Yerevan" was developed by the academician Alexander Tamanyan which was approved in 1924. The plan was designed for a population of 150,000.

During the Soviet era the city was transformed into a modern industrial metropolis of over a million people, to become a significant scientific and cultural centre.

Tamanian incorporated national traditions with contemporary urban construction. His design presented a radial-circular arrangement that overlaid the existing city. As a result, many historic buildings were demolished, including churches, mosques, the Persian fortress, baths, bazaars and caravanserais. Many of the surrounding districts around Yerevan were named after former Armenian communities that were decimated by the Ottoman Turks during their rule over Armenia.

The districts of Arabkir, Malatya-Sebastia and Nork Marash, for example, were named after the towns Arabkir, Malatya, Sebastia, and Marash, respectively. Following the end of the World War II, German POWs were used to help in the construction of new buildings and structures, such as the Kievyan Bridge.

In 1965, during the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Yerevan was the center of a demonstration, the first such demonstration in the Soviet Union, to demand recognition of the Genocide by the Soviet authorities. In 1968, the city's 2,750th anniversary was commemorated. Yerevan played a key role in the Armenian national democratic movement that emerged during the Gorbachev era of the 1980s.

The reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika opened questions on issues such as the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the environment, Russification, corruption, democracy, and eventually independence. At the beginning of 1988, nearly one million Yerevantsis engaged in demonstrations concerning these subjects, centered on Theater Square.

Post-USSR independence:

Following the dismantling of the USSR or Soviet Union, Yerevan became the capital of the Republic of Armenia on 21 September 1991. Maintaining supplies of gas and electricity proved difficult; constant electricity was not restored until 1996 amidst the chaos of the badly instigated and planned transition to a market based economy.

Since 2000, central Yerevan has been transformed into a vast construction site, with cranes erected all over the Kentron district. Officially, the scores of multi-storied buildings are part of large-scale urban planning projects. Roughly $1.8 billion was spent on such construction in 2006, according to the national statistical service. Prices for downtown apartments have increased by about ten times over the last decade.

Political demonstrations are a common scene in Yerevan. In 2008, unrest in the capital between the authorities and opposition demonstrators led by ex-President Levon Ter-Petrossian occurred after the 2008 Armenian presidential election. The events resulted in ten deaths and a subsequent 20-day state of emergency declared by President Robert Kocharian.


Topography and location:
  • Altitude: average 990 m (3,248.03 ft) - minimum 865 m (2,837.93 ft) - maximum 1,390 m (4,560.37 ft).
  • Location: to the edge of the Hrazdan river, north-east of the Ararat plain.
Yerevan is located in the center-west of the country in the north-eastern extremity of the Ararat Valley. Historically, the city is situated at the heart of the Armenian Highland, in Kotayk canton (Armenian: Կոտայք գաւառ Kotayk gavar, not to be confused with the current Kotayk Province) of Ayrarat province, within Armenia Major.

The upper part of the city is surrounded with mountains on three sides while it descends to the banks of the river Hrazdan at the south. Hrazdan divides Yerevan into two parts through a picturesque canyon. The city's elevation ranges between 900 to 1,300 m (2,952.76 to 4,265.09 ft) above sea level.

As the capital of Armenia, Yerevan is not part of any marz ("province"). Instead, it is bordered with the following provinces: Kotayk from the north and the east, Ararat from the south and the south-west, Armavir from the west and Aragatsotn from the north-west.


The climate of Yerevan is a semi-arid, continental climate (Köppen climate classification BSk), with hot and dry summers and cold and snowy winters. This is attributed to the fact that Yerevan is located on a plain surrounded by mountains and to its distance to the sea and its effects. The summers are usually very hot with the temperature in August reaching up to 40 °C (104 °F), while winters generally carry snowfall and freezing temperatures with January often being as cold as −15 °C (5 °F). The amount of precipitation is small, amounting annually to about 318 millimetres (12.5 in). Yerevan experiences an average of 2,700 sunlight hours per year.

Government and politics:


Yerevan has been the capital of Armenia since the independence of the First Republic in 1918. Situated in the Ararat plain, the historic lands of Armenia, it served as the best logical choice for capital of the young republic at the time.

When Armenia became a republic of the Soviet Union, Yerevan remained as capital and accommodated all the political and diplomatic institutions in the republic. In 1991 with the independence of Armenia, Yerevan continued with its status as the political and cultural centre of the country, being home to all the national institutions: the Government house, the Parliament, ministries, the presidential palace, the constitutional court, judicial bodies and other public organisations.


The Armenian Constitution, adopted on 5 July 1995, granted Yerevan the status of a marz (region). Therefore, Yerevan functions similarly to the other regions of the country with a few specificities. The administrative authority of Yerevan is thus represented by:
  • The mayor, appointed by the President (who can remove him at any moment) upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, alongside a group of four deputy mayors heading eleven ministries (of which financial, transport, urban development etc.),
  • The Yerevan Council, regrouping the Chiefs of neighborhood communities under the authority of the mayor.
  • Twelve "neighborhood communities" (or districts), with each having its own chief and their elected councils. Yerevan has a principal city hall and twelve deputy mayors of districts.

The last modification to the Constitution on 27 November 2005 turned the city into a "community" (hamaynk); since, the Constitution declares that this community has to be led by a mayor, elected directly or indirectly, and that the city needs to be governed by a specific law. This law is currently in preparation in the Armenian parliament that adopted its first draft in December 2007 and should do the same in the second draft in spring of 2008. The project on the law envisions an indirect election of the mayor. 

Artashes Geghamyan was the last mayor of the Armenian SSR and Hambartsoum Galstyan, the first mayor of the newly independent republic. Since 1991, there have been eight mayors of Yerevan. The current mayor, Karen Karapetyan, replaced Gagik Beglaryan, who resigned in December 2010 after allegations he assaulted a government employee at a public event. In addition to the national police and road police, Yerevan has its own municipal police. All three bodies cooperate to maintain law in the city.


Yerevan is divided into twelve "neighborhood communities" (թաղային համայնքներ), commonly translated as "districts", each with an elected community leader. Each district is divided into neighborhoods (թաղամաս). A district could have up to eight neighborhoods.


Originally a small town, Yerevan became the capital of Armenia and a large city with over one million inhabitants.

Until the fall of the Soviet Union, the majority of the population of Yerevan were Armenians with minorities of Russians, Kurds, Azerbaijanis and Iranians present as well. However with the breakout of the Nagorno-Karabakh War from 1988 to 1994, the Azerbaijani minority diminished in the country in what was part of population exchanges between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A big part of the Russian minority also fled the country during the 1990s economic crisis in the country. Today, the population of Yerevan is mainly Armenian.

Like the rest of the country and all other ex-Soviet republics, a lot of people fled their countries (mostly to Europe and North America) due to economic crises. The population of Yerevan fell from 1,250,000 in 1989 to 1,103,488 in 2001 and to 1,091,235 in 2003. However, the population of Yerevan has been increasing since. In 2007, the capital had 1,107,800 inhabitants.

Ethnic groups:

Yerevan was inhabited first by Armenians and stayed like that for a long time until the 1620s when the wars started to change the demographics of this region. 

Until the Sovietizaton of Armenia, Yerevan have been a multicultural city, mainly with Armenian and Caucasian Tatar (nowadays Azerbaijanis) population. After the Armenian Genocide, many refugees from Western Armenia (nowadays Turkey, then Ottoman Empire) had escaped to Eastern Armenia. In 1919 about 75 thousand Western Armenian refugees had come to Yerevan, mostly from Vaspurakan region (city of Van and surroundings). A significant part of these refugees died of typhus and other diseases. 

In 1921-1936 about 42 thousand ethnic Armenians from Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Greece, Syria, France, Bulgaria etc. came to Soviet Armenia, with most of them residing in Yerevan. The second wave of repatriation was in 1946-1948 when about 100,000 ethnic Armenians from Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, France, United States etc. came to Soviet Armenia, again most of whom settled in Yerevan.

Thus, the ethnic makeup of Yerevan became more monoethnic during the first 3 decades in the Soviet Union.

In late 1980s early 1990s, the remaining 2,000 Azeri population left the city, because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.


The Armenian Apostolic Christianity is the dominant religion in Armenia as well as Yerevan. The Armenian Church is represented in the city by the Araratian Patriarchal Diocese which is based within the complex of Surb Sargis Cathedral. Yerevan is home to the largest Armenian Church in the world, the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator.

After the independence in 1991, the Evangelical Church of Armenia was founded and officially recognized by the authorities on 1 July 1994. The Evangelical church and its headquarters are located on Marshall Baghramyan Street in the centre of Yerevan.

The tiny community of the Orthodox Russians have its own; the Holy Mother of God church, which is located on Zakaria Kanakertsi Street in Kanaker-Zeytun district of Yerevan. The church was built across the barracks of the Cossack troops which had been deployed in Yerevan since the Russian victory in the Russian-Persian war in 1828. The church was closed in the Soviet times to be used first as a warehouse and later as a regimental club. Divine services were resumed in it only in 1991. In 2004, the reconstructed church re-acquired a cupola and a belfry. The consecration of the new Holy Cross Russian Orthodox church of Yerevan was conducted on 18 March 2010, by Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow. The church is being built on Admiral Isakov Avenue, and is set to be finished by 2013. 

Yerevan's Blue Mosque of the 18th century was restored and reopened in the latter half of the 1990s funded by Iran, to become the only working mosque in Armenia. Nowadays, Islamic religious services are conducted within the Blue Mosque to serve the Shia Iranian visitors and tradesmen.

Few members of the Yezidi and Jewish communities of Armenia live in Yerevan. The city is the home of the Jewish Council of Armenia.

A variety of other religious communities are also present in the city.


Museums and libraries:

Yerevan is home to dozens of museums, art galleries, and libraries. The most prominent of these are the National Gallery of Armenia, the History Museum of Armenia, the Cafesjian Museum of Art, the Matenadaran library of ancient manuscripts, and the Armenian Genocide museum. Others include the Modern Art Museum, the Children’s Picture Gallery, and the Martiros Saryan Museum. Moreover, many private galleries are in operation, with many more opening every year, featuring rotating exhibitions and sales.

Constructed in 1921, the National Gallery of Armenia is Yerevan principal museum. It is integrated with the Armenia's History Museum of Armenia. In addition to having a permanent exposition of works of painters such as Aivazovsky, Kandinsky, Chagall, Theodore Rousseau, Monticelli or Eugene Boudin, it usually hosts temporary expositions such as Yann Arthus-Bertrand in 2005 or the one organized on the occasion of the Year of Armenia in France in October 2006. The Armenian Genocide museum is found at the foot of Tsitsernakaberd memorial and features numerous eyewitness accounts, texts and photographs from the time. It comprises a Memorial stone made of three parts, the latter of which is dedicated to the intellectual and political figures who, as the museum's site says, "raised their protest against the Genocide committed against the Armenians by the Turks. Among them there are Armin T. Wegner, Hedvig Büll, Henry Morgenthau, Franz Werfel, Johannes Lepsius, James Bryce, Anatole France, Giacomo Gorrini, Benedict XV, Fritjof Nansen, Fayez el Husseini". This place of remembrance was created by Laurenti Barseghian, the Museum's director, and Pietro Kuciukian, the founder of the "Memory is the Future" Committee for the Righteous for the Armenians. This Memorial hosts the ashes or fistfuls of earth from the tombs of the Righteous and of those non-Armenians who witnessed the genocide and tried to help the Armenians. Here, people also celebrates living characters who stand out for their pro-memory engagement.

The Matenadaran is a library-museum regrouping 17,000 ancient manuscripts and several bibles from the Middle Ages. Its archives hold a rich collection of valuable ancient Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Hebrew, Roman and Persian manuscripts. It is located in the center of the city on Mesrop Mashdots avenue.

Next to the Hrazdan river, the Sergey Parajanov Museum that was completely renovated in 2002, has 250 works, documents and photos of the Armenian filmmaker and painter. Yerevan has several other museums like the museum of the Middle-East and the Museum of Yerevan.

Here is a list of Yerevan's most important museums:
  • Erebuni museum founded in 1968 near the Erebuni fortress.
  • History Museum of Armenia opened in 1921, contains more than 400,000 items and pieces of Armenian heritage.
  • National Gallery of Armenia exhibits more than 25,000 painting samples of Armenian, Russian and European artists.
  • Matenadaran Library, Museum and Institute of ancient manuscripts named after
  • Mesrop Mashtots.
  • Cafesjian Museum of Art Gerard L. Cafesjian Museum and Art Centre of the Cascade complex, opened on 7 November 2009, showcases a massive collection glass artwork, particularly the works of the Czech artists Libenský / Brychtová. The front gardens showcase sculptures from Gerard Cafesjian's collection.
  • Museum of Folk Art of Armenia founded in 1978 on Abovyan Street.
  • Armenian Genocide Museum part of Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex.
  • Museum of Armenian Patriotic Movement (Fedayees) named after Andranik Ozanian opened in 1995 in Komitas Park. Renovated and reopened in 2006 on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of independence.
  • House-Museum of Hovhannes Tumanyan opened in 1953, contains a large number of objects belonged to poet Hovhannes Tumanyan along with his personal library.
  • House-Museum of Yeghishe Charents opened in 1964 on the Mashtots Avnue.
  • House-Museum of Avetik Isahakyan opened in 1963 on Baghramyan street.
  • House-Museum of Alexander Spendiaryan opened in 1967 on Nalbantian street.
  • House-Museum of Aram Khachaturian opened in 1984, contains more than 18,000 valuable items.
  • House-Museum of Yervand Kochar opened in 1984 to commemorate famous Armenian artist Yervand Kochar.
  • House-Museum of Martiros Saryan contains the works of the famous painter Martiros Saryan.
  • House-Museum of Khachatur Abovian the home of writer Khachatur Abovian in Kanaker, turned into museum in 1939.
  • House-Museum of painter Minas Avetisyan located on Nalbantian street.
  • House-Museum of writer Derenik Demirchian located on Abovian street.
  • Sergei Parajanov Museum opened in 1991, exhibits the works of Sergei Parajanov and other film directors.
  • State Museum of Nature of Armenia contains samples of animal and botanic life in Armenia.
  • "Mayr Hayastan" Military Museum located in the Victory Park and dedicated to the World War II and Karabakh Liberation war.
  • Museum of Russian Art founded in 1984 on Isahakyan street, contains a collection of paintings of Russian artists.
  • Museum of Children's creative work gallery located on Abovyan street, exhibits some talents of Armenian children.
  • Geological Museum of Armenia located on Abovian street.
  • Museum-Institute of Zoology institute and research centre located on Sevak street.
  • Charents Museum of Literature and Arts located on Arami street.
  • ARF History Museum commemorates the history of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, dedicated to its notable members.
  • Museum of Middle East museum of the Middle Eastern civilisations and cultures, located on Arami Street.
  • Museum of sculptor Ara Sargsian and painter Hakop Kodjoian located on Mashtots Avenue.
  • Yerevan History Museum founded in 1931. In 2005 the museum settled in the Yerevan City Hall complex.
  • Museum of Wood Craft opened in 1977, located on Paronian street.
  • National Museum of Architecture named after Alexander Tamanyan located on Hanrapetutyan street, home to a research centre and samples of Tamanyan's works.
On 6 June 2010, Yerevan was named as the 2012 World Book Capital by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Aremnian capital was chosen for the quality and variety of the programme it presented to the selection committee, which met at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on 2 July 2010.

Cinemas, theatres, opera & concert halls:

The city is home to many cinema halls; among them the famous Moskva cinema. Most of the world's hit movies are available to watch there. Since 2004, every year Moskva hosts the Golden Apricot international film festival. Many other cinema halls characterized with important architectural values are operating in the city such as Hayrenik, Nayiri, Rossiya, etc.

The Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theatre consists of two concert halls: Aram Khatchaturian concert hall and the hall of the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after Alexander Spendiarian.

Numerous theatres and halls allow the audience to enjoy a multitude of various shows and performances, such as the modern Complex named after Karen Demirchyan. Other significant theatres include: Yerevan State Musical Comedy Theatre named after Hagop Baronian, Russian Drama Theatre named after Constantin Stanislavski, Yerevan State Dramatic Theatre named after Hrachia Ghaplanian, Yerevan State Hamazgain Theatre and the State Pupppet Theatre named after Hovhannes Tumanyan. The Sundukyan State Academic Theatre of Yerevan is the oldest modern theatre in Armenia.
Yerevan in artworks:

Many celebrated Armenian singers and composers dedicated their songs to Yerevan: Arno Babajanian, Rouben Hakhverdian, Harout Pamboukjian, Aram Asatryan, Tata Simonian, Arsen Petrosian, Arman Hovhannisian, Rudik Gabrielian, Arame, Tigran Asatryan, Artash Asatryan, Ararat Nurijanyan, Inga and Anush Arshakyans and others.

Yerevan has been a key theme for such movies as "The capital", "Our yard", "Yerevan jan", "Taxi 'Eli lav a'" and others. In 2000 "SHARM Holding" released the "As long as I live" documentary dedicated to the 2782nd anniversary of Yerevan.

Tourism in Armenia is developing year by year and the capital city of Yerevan is one of the major tourist destinations. The city has a majority of luxury hotels, modern restaurants, bars, pubs and nightclubs. Zvartnots airport has also conducted renovation projects with the growing number of tourists visiting the country. Numerous places in Yerevan are attractive for tourists, such as the dancing fountains of the Republic Square, the State Opera House, the Cascade complex, the ruins of the Urartian city of Erebuni (Arin Berd), the historical site of Karmir Blur (Teishebaini), etc. The Armenia Marriott Hotel is situated in the heart of the city at Republic Square, while other major chains are also present in downtown Yerevan, such as the Golden Tulip Yerevan Hotel and the Best Western Congress Hotel. Recently, a number of new modern hotels have been inaugurated in the Silikian neighborhood of Ajapnyak district.

The location of Yerevan itself inspires foreigners to visit the city in order to enjoy the view of the biblical mount of Ararat, as the city lies on the feet of the mountain forming the shape of a Roman amphitheatre.

There are plenty of historical sites, churches and citadels in areas and regions surrounding the city of Yerevan, such as the (Garni Temple, Zvartnots Cathedral, and Khor Virap, etc.).

Amusement parks and zoo:
  •  Yerevan Zoo was founded in 1940. Operated by the Yerevan municipality, the zoo is home to 1500 different animals and 260 species.
  • The Waterworld is a water park in Yerevan. It has several pools, toboggans, bars and restaurants. The park used to close from October to May but the construction of an indoor section called Aquatek has permitted the water park to be open all year. The indoor section has jacuzzis, pools, hammams, fitness rooms, restaurants and a hotel.
  • Play City is an enterteinment centre located in Avan district, consists of a bowling arena, a cinema hall, paint-ball, karting ring and video-game rooms.
  • The green areas in Yerevan are increasing day by day, the municipality is working towards the inauguration of new parks in all districts of Yerevan. The most popular park nowadays is the Lovers' park on Baghramyan street, while the Victory park is one of the largest parks in the city along with the Youth (Circular) park and the Botanical garden. Many other beautiful parks enhance the city of Yerevan, such as the English and Shahumyan parks in Kentron District, Tumanyan park in Ajapnyak, Komitas park in Shengavit, Vahan Zatikian park in Malatia-Sebastia, David Anhaght park in Kanaker-Zeytun, the Family park in Avan, Fridtjof Nansen park in Nor Nork, etc.


Yerevan is served by the Zvartnots International Airport, located 12 km west of the city center. It is the primary airport of the country and the hub of Armavia, national air carrier company. Inaugurated in 1961 during the Soviet era, Zvartnots airport was renovated for the first time in 1985 and a second time in 2002 in order to adapt to international norms. It went through a facelift starting in 2004 with the construction of a new terminal. The first phase of the construction ended in September 2006 with the opening of the arrivals zone. A second section designated for departures was inaugurated in May 2007. The departure terminal is anticipated, October 2011 housing state of the art facilities and technology. This will make Yerevan Zvartnots International Airport, the largest, busiest and most modern airport in the entire Caucasus. The entire project costs more than $100 million USD.

The airport serves direct flights to dozens of countries which include France, Russia, Germany, Greece, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Austria, Netherlands, Czech Republic, China, Cyprus, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Iran, Italy, Bahrain, Lebanon, Spain, Syria, Turkey, Poland, India, Switzerland, Georgia etc.

A second airport, Erebuni Airport, is located just south of the city. Since the independence, "Erebuni" is mainly used for military or private flights. The Armenian Air Force has equally installed its base there and there are several MiG-29s stationed on Erebuni's tarmac.

Bus and trolleybus:

Yerevan has 46 bus lines and 24 trolleybus lines. The Yerevan trolleybus system has been operating since 1949. Old Soviet-era buses have been replaced with new modern ones. Outside the bus lines that cover the city, some buses at the start of the central road train station located in the Nor Kilikia neighborhood serve practically all the cities of Armenia as well as of others abroad, notably Tbilisi in Georgia or Tabriz in Iran.

A new route network has been developed in the city, according to which the number of minibuses will be reduced from the currently existing 2600 to 650 by the end of 2010.

The tramway network that operated in Yerevan since 1906 was decommissioned in January 2004. Its use had a cost 2.4 times higher than the generated profits, which pushed the municipality to shutdown the network, despite a last ditch effort to save it towards the end of 2003. Since the closure, the rails have been dismantled and sold.


The Yerevan Metro named after Karen Demirchyan, (Armenian: Կարեն Դեմիրճյանի անվան Երեւանի մետրոպոլիտեն կայարան) is a rapid transit system that serves the capital city since 1981. It has a single line of 13.4 km (8.3 mi) length with 10 active stations. The interiors of the stations resemble that of the former western Soviet nations, with chandeliers hanging from the corridors. The metro stations had most of their names changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Independence of the Republic of Armenia.

A northeastern extension of the line with two new stations is currently being developed. The construction of the first station (Ajapnyak) and of the one kilometer tunnel linking it to the rest of the network will cost 18 million USD. The time of the end of the project has not yet been defined. Another long term project is the construction of two new lines, but these have been suspended due to lack of finance.

More than 50,000 people are being transported by Yerevan metro on a daily basis.


Yerevan has a single central train station (several train stations of suburbs have not been used since 1990) that is connected to the metro via the Sasuntsi Davit station. The train station is made in Soviet-style architecture with its long point on the building roof, representing the symbols of communism: red star, hammer and sickle. Due to the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades of Armenia, there is only one international train that passes by once every two days, with neighboring Georgia being its destination. For example, for a sum of 9 000 to 18 000 dram, it is possible to take the night train to the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. This train then continues to its destination of Batumi, on the shores of the Black sea.

The only railway that goes to Iran to the south passes by the closed border of Nakhichevan. For this reason, there are no trains that go south from Yerevan. A construction project on a new railway line connecting Armenia and Iran directly is currently being studied.

Recently, the South Caucasus Railway CJSC -which is the current operator of the railway system in Armenia- announced its readyness to put the Yerevan-Gyumri-Kars railway line in service in case the Armenian-Turkish protocols are ratified and the opening of the borders between the two countries is achieved.



In 2001, Yerevan's share of national industrial production was approximately 50%. Yerevan's manufactures include chemicals, primary metals, machinery, rubber products, plastics, textiles, alcoholic beverages and processed food. Even though the economic crisis of the 90s ravaged the industry of the country, several factories remain always in service, notably in the petrochemical and the aluminium sectors. Not only is Yerevan the headquarters of major Armenian companies, but of international ones as well, as it's seen as an attractive outsourcing location for Western European, Russian and American multinationals. Yerevan is also the country's financial hub, home to the Central Bank of Armenia, the Armenian Stock Exchange (NASDAQ OMX Armenia), as well as some of the country's largest commercial banks.

Armenian beverages, especially the Armenian cognac and beer have a worldwide fame. Hence, Yerevan is home to many leading enterprises of Armenia and the Caucasus for the production of alcoholic beverages, such as Yerevan Brandy Company, Yerevan Ararat Wine Factory, Yerevan Kilikia Beer Company and Yerevan Champagne Wines Factory.

Yerevan is also home to other giant industrial and international plants: Nairit chemical and rubber plant, ArmRosGazProm a subsidiary of Russian giants Gazprom, RUSAL ARMENAL aluminium foil mill and Cigaronne company for tobacco products.

The carpet industry in Armenia has an ancient tradition and a very deep history, therefore, the carpet production is rather developed in Yerevan with three major factories that also produce hand-made carpets. 

Yerevan's location on the shores of Hrazdan river has enabled the production of hydroelectricity. Two plants are established on the territory of the municipality. There is also a modern thermal power plant which is unique in the region for its quality and high technology, situated in the southern part of the city, furnished with a new gas-steam combined cycled turbine, to generate electric power.


The construction sector has experienced strong growth since 2000. Recently, Yerevan has been undergoing massive construction boom, funded mostly by Armenian millionaires from Russia, with an extensive and controversial redevelopment process in which Czarist and Soviet-period buildings have been demolished and replaced with new buildings. This urban renewal plan has been met with opposition and criticism from some residents. Coupled with the construction sector's growth has been the increase in real estate prices. Downtown houses deemed too small are more and more demolished and replaced by high-rise buildings.

Two major construction projects are scheduled in Yerevan: the Northern Avenue and the Main Avenue projects. The Northern Avenue is almost completed and was put in service in 2007, while the Main Avenue is still under development. In the past few years, the city centre has also witnessed major road reconstruction, and the renovation of the Republic square, funded by the American-Armenian billionaire, Kirk Kerkorian. Another diasporan Armenian from Argentina; Eduardo Eurnekian took over the airport, while the cascade development project was funded by the US based Armenian millionaire Gerard L. Cafesjian.

On 29 January 2010, another major project "Yerevan City" was announced by the municipality of Yerevan, to build a new cultural businesslike centre near the hill of Paskevich, where the Noragyugh neighborhood is located. The project will link Admiral Isakov Avenue with Arshakunyats Avenue and will be fulfilled through a cooperation with Moscow city government.

Monuments and landmarks:
  • Erebuni Fortress or Arin Berd, where the city of Yerevan was founded in 782 BC by King Argishti I.
  • The Cascade massive white steps with fountains ascend through Tamanyan street towards Haghtanak Park, home to the Cafesjian Museum of Art.
  • Cossack Monument dedicated to the Cossacks killed during the Russian-Persian wars in 1826-1827.
  • Karen Demirchyan Complex or Hamalir, concert hall and sports complex.
  • Komitas Pantheon cemetery where many famous Armenians are buried.
  • Lover's Park or Boghossian gardens, located on Baghramyan street, the park is operating since October 2008.
  • Matenadaran Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, one of the richest depositories of manuscripts in the world.
  • Moskva Cinema built on the site of St. Peter and Paul Church of the 5th century. The church was destroyed in 1931 to build the cinema.
  • Mother Armenia World War II and Karabakh Liberation war memorial located in Haghtanak (Victory) Park.
  • Surb Zoravor Church built in the 17th century, the church is one the best monuments in Yerevan.
  • Saint Sarkis Cathedral the seat of Araratian Patriarchal Diocese, rebuilt in 1835-1842.
  • Saint Gregory Cathedral the largest Armenian church in the world, completed in 2001.
  • Argavand Funerary Tower Islamic funerary tower built in 1413, located in the village of Argavand now absorbed by Yerevan.
  • Blue Mosque or "Gök Jami" built in 1764–1768, located on Mashtots Avenue. It is the only mosque operating in Armenia.
  • Sasuntsi Davit statue dedicated to the legendary Armenian hero David of Sasun.
  • Statue of Haik the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.
  • Swan Lake located in the opera park, used as an ice-skating arena in winters.
  • Tsitsernakaberd monument commemorating the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

  • Yerevan Opera House the Armenian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.
  • Yerevan Waterworld modern entertainment complex of water adventures, operating both in summers and winters.
  • Yerevan Zoo founded in 1940, home to 1500 different animals and 260 species.
  • Botanical Garden of Yerevan opened in 1935 in the northern part of Yerevan, occupys an area of 105 hectares.

  •  The English Park opened in the 1860s and considered to be the oldest park in the city of Yerevan. It was further developed and reopened on 3 October 1910. The Youth Park or Yeritasardakan Aygi, formerly known as the Circular park of Yerevan.
  • Yerevan Circus opened in 1956 on Agatangeghos street in the centre of Yerevan.

Yerevan is a major educational centre in the region. It has 166 nursery schools, 259 public education schools, 12 state musical & art schools and several state owned schools for special needs.

At present, 90 institutes of higher education are functioning in the Republic of Armenia. As a capital city, Yerevan has the majority with 71 higher educational institutions, 19 out of which are state universities and the rest 52 are private ones. In 2008-2009 academic year, according to data released by the National Statistical Service of Armenia, there were 114,399 students from which 91,806 students were studying at the institutes of higher education in the capital. 16,304 students in Yerevan institutes got their higher education for free while 75,502 students paid for their studies.

Currently, 38 state technical colleges (elementary and intermediate post-school educational institutions) are operating in the city, under the supervision of Yerevan Municipality, government ministries and state organizations.


Below is a list of Yerevan's most important Universities:


The most played and popular sport in Yerevan is football. Yerevan has many football clubs with five in the 2011 season of the Armenian Premier League.

Yerevan has four major stadiums: Banants Stadium, Mika Stadium, Republican Stadium and Hrazdan Stadium, along with two small ones; Nairi Stadium and Erebuni Stadium. Hrazdan -the largest football venue- is also home to a sports complex composed of a swimming pool, basket-ball arena, tennis courts and other facilities.

The largest indoor arena of the city and the whole country is the Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex, mostly used for hockey matches, Figure Skating shows and concerts.

Armenia has always excelled in chess with its players being very often among the highest ranked and decorated. The headquarters of the Armenian Chess Federation is located in the Kentron (central district) in Yerevan and there exists plenty of chess clubs in the city. In 1996, despite a severe economic crisis, Yerevan hosted the 32nd Chess Olympiad. In 2006, the four members from Yerevan of the Armenian chess team won the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin and repeated the feat at the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden. The Yerevan-born leader of this team, Levon Aronian, is currently one of the world's top chess players and is number three on the February 2011 FIDE rankings.

Notable natives and residents:
  • Khachatur Abovian, writer
  • Alexander Shirvanzade, writer
  • Martiros Saryan, painter
  • Viktor Ambartsumian, astrophysicist
  • Silva Kaputikyan, poet
  • Rafik Khachatryan, sculptor
  • Armen Dzhigarkhanyan, actor
  • Robert Amirkhanyan, composer, professor
  • Alexander Arutiunian, composer
  • Djivan Gasparyan, composer
  • Ara Gevorgian, composer
  • Sergei Khachatryan, violinist
  • Samvel Yervinyan, violinist
  • Tigran Mansurian, Grammy nominated composer
  • Gevorg Sargsyan, opera conductor
  • Armen Movsessian, violinist
  • Shavo Odadjian, bassist of the rock band System of a Down
  • Smbat Lputian, chess player
  • Gabriel Sargissian, chess player
  • Vladimir Akopian, chess player
  • Levon Aronian, chess player
  • Rafael Vaganian, chess player
  • Ashot Nadanian, chess player
  • Sargis Sargsian, tennis player
  • Khoren Hovhannisyan, football player
  • Roman Berezovsky, football player, goalkeeper
  • Edgar Manucharyan, football player
  • Henrikh Mkhitaryan, football player
  • Arthur Abraham, boxer, current IBF middleweight World champion
  • Susianna Kentikian, boxer, current WBA, WBO and WIBF flyweight World champion
  • Gokor Chivichyan, judoka
  • Karo Parisyan, mixed martial artist/judoka
  • Gevorg Petrosyan, kickboxer
  • Ashot Danielyan, weightlifter, double European champion
  • Ruben Hakhverdyan, contemporary poet and singer
  • Harout Pamboukjian, contemporary singer
  • Aram Satian, composer
  • Sirusho, contemporary singer

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