10 Best Attractions in Yerevan Armenia That You MUST SEE
Yerevan, the capital and largest city in Armenia, is like a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Sprawled at the foot of the majestic snow-capped Mount Ararat, Yerevan is a place which has remained relatively unexplored. The stunning natural beauty in this city is not common elsewhere. What makes it even more wonderful are the people who live in this warm and welcoming place. They open their hearts to you, and once you visit this incredible city, you would surely want to return for another trip!
The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC. At that time, it was known as Erebuni, a fortress built in the western part of the Ararat plain, to serve as a centre for governance and as a capital fit for royalty. Yerevan has seen a varied history with many centuries under Iranian rule. Thereafter, around 1828, it was taken over by the Russian Imperialist regime.
It was after the First World War that the First Republic of Armenia came into being, with Yerevan as its capital. The city developed and expanded its infrastructure and rapidly grew to become a centre of industry, art and culture. Today, the city of Yerevan, with its fascinating mix of the ancient Armenian culture and modernity, has something to offer to everyone. Be it beautiful landscapes, medieval churches and monuments, or more contemporary attractions like museums, operas, sport complexes, Yerevan has it all!
Best Yerevan Attractions
This is an amazing museum which is steeped in history and culture. It is a virtual treasure-house of ancient Armenian manuscripts and books covering a variety of subjects such as art, literature, history, medicine and much more! There is also a fantastic collection of historical documents in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Russian and other languages. It is believed that Matenadaran has close to 17,000 manuscripts and 30,000 other documents in its collection.
2. Republic Square
The largest square in the centre of Yerevan, Republic Square is a favourite with the locals as well as visitors. Formerly known as the Lenin Square, it used to have a statue of Lenin that was removed in 1990, and in its place, a huge television monitor was installed.
Republic Square has been designed very aesthetically. The government buildings around the square are built with rose and white stones. An interesting platform which is designed like a traditional Armenian carpet is the central and focal point of the square.
Another attraction is a tower with a large clock which lends a curious charm to the area. Many water fountains add to the visual appeal of this square. In the evenings, these dancing fountains come alive in a beautiful music and light show which is definitely worth seeing.
3. The History Museum of Armenia
The History museum on Republic Square is considered as the national museum of Armenia. It is a huge museum with separate departments dedicated to archaeology, numismatics and ethnography etc. The museum was set up in 1920 and now has an astounding collection of some 400,000 objects. It is actively involved in the preservation and restoration work of ancient relics as well.
The ethnographic section is perhaps the most wonderful. On display are preserved samples of finely embellished altar cloths, intricate lacework pieces, national Armenian costumes and exquisite jewellery items. Also worthy of note are the hand woven Armenian rugs and carpets exhibited here.
4. Lover’s Park
This park has been given many different names from time to time, which are closely related to its history. Originally called the Kozem Park, way back in the 18th century, it was basically known for its chapel and cemetery. After the Second World War, it underwent a change in its design and name, and came to be known as Pushkin Park, after the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin. In 1970, the name of the park was again changed to Barekamutyun which means ‘Friendship’. This name was kept in order to commemorate the friendship of the Soviet Union states.
Interestingly, with the independence declaration of the Republic of Armenia, the park was given yet another name and came to be known by its present name, Lovers Park. This was so because it had always been a favourite place for couples.
Lovers Park is best described as a place of greenery, waterfalls and small bridges which create a perfectly romantic setting to this place. It is also facilitated by a small amphitheatre and an outdoor café which add to its popularity.
The park is also the venue for the celebration of national holidays and festivals of Armenia. Open air screenings of International Film Festivals, live concerts and music shows are all held here. Lovers Park is truly a beautiful and happening place to be in!
5. Katoghike Church
Katoghike or Church of the Holy Mother of God is the only surviving medieval church in Yerevan. It dates back to the 13th century. Although the church itself was demolished in 1936, during the Soviet regime, miraculously the ancient chapel within the basilica complex was unearthed intact, having withstood the onslaught of the demolition. Due to the persistent efforts of archaeologists and the general public outcry, the Katoghike Chapel was allowed to remain.
Located in the centre of Yerevan, amidst the high-rise modern buildings, the Katoghike Church remains a small house of prayer and chapel. Several Khachkars or stone crosses with inscriptions, which were also discovered from the area of the demolished basilica, stand in front of the church as a wonderful relic from the past.
6. Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral
Also known as the Cathedral of Yerevan, this is the biggest cathedral in the whole country of Armenia. It is of great historical significance, as it houses the relics of Saint Gregory, the patron saint and founder of Christianity in Armenia.
This massive cathedral has three churches in all. There is a main church along with two separate chapels of Saint Tiridates the King and Saint Ashken the Queen. It is believed that both these royal entities were championing the cause of Christianity as helpers of Saint Gregory. The belfry tower of this Cathedral has 30 arches, and the cross at the top of the church is supposed to be 54 metres from the ground, making it visible from every part of Yerevan.
The Main Church is so huge that it can accommodate 1700 people at a time. The two chapels are also big and are mainly used for wedding functions. Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral is a must see destination during your visit to Yerevan.
7. Cafesjian Centre for Arts
Flickr/art & julane
Named after its founder Gerard Cafesjian, Cafesjian Centre for Arts is also known as the Cafesjian Museum. It is the hub of culture and art in Armenia. Opened in 2009, the Cafesjian Centre lies in the heart of the capital city of Yerevan. It is dedicated to the development of contemporary art. The Centre holds several exhibitions of modern art and offers workshops and training programmes to encourage and promote contemporary art. The museum also houses the entire collection of the works of art of its patron Gerald L.Cafesjian.
The building itself is very beautifully and artistically structured, and the symmetrically patterned gardens and promenade add to the impressive layout of the place. And of course, once you enter the Centre, you will be totally lost in the admiration of these amazing artistic creations!
8. Yerevan Opera Theatre
The Yerevan Opera Theatre is made up of two halls. The concert hall has a capacity of seating 1,400 people, while the Opera and Ballet National Theatre can accommodate 1,200 people. The first ballet to be performed here was the famous Swan Lake. The Yerevan Opera Theatre has given a tremendous boost to theatre and ballet performances in Armenia.
9. National Gallery of Armenia
Centrally located in the Republic Square, the National Gallery is the biggest museum of art in Armenia. Apart from the largest collection of Armenian Art, it has a wonderful collection of Russian and European art. This museum has more than 50 galleries and halls which collectively have a display of 26000 works of art! The museum is a ‘must visit’ destination for you, particularly if you are a lover of art.
10. Erebuni Museum
The museum stands at the bottom of a hill, over which the fortress of Erebuni once stood, for a long time, since the completion of its construction in782 BC. After the excavation of the site and subsequent restoration of some parts was carried out, the fortress city of Erebuni, was converted into an open air museum.
Objects discovered during the excavation of Erebuni included pitchers, jars, ceramics, bronze jewellery and other artefacts which throw light on the life of the people who lived in the fortress. These items form part of the collection of 12,235 exhibits of the museum.
Erebuni Museum is a much visited and loved spot for the people of Yerevan, because of its historical significance and the fact that their beloved city actually originated from this site. You should definitely not leave Yerevan without paying a visit to the Erebuni Museum, which takes you to the roots of this magical city.