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Getting up to date with Yerevan, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city

Published by Denise Beresford, Writer

Country: Armenia

The Experience

Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia. It is the world’s oldest continuously-inhabited cities, dating back to the 8th century BC with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by King Argishti. Yerevan expanded rapidly during the 20th Century with Armenia becoming one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. In fifty years Yerevan transformed from a town of a few thousand inhabitants to become Armenia’s principal industrial, cultural and artistic centre.

Yerevan is a very homogenous city with the vast majority of the Armenians being immigrants themselves from all over the world. The population grew post WWII as genocide survivors poured in. Today the population has exploded to over one million residents. With the growth of the country’s economy, the city has been the recipient of new construction since the early 2000’s and retail outlets such as restaurants, street cafes and shops which were rare during Soviet times have taken hold.

With a city that has been around for such a long time with such a rich history, it is not surprising that it has a lot of interesting and unique things to see and do. Yerevan is mindful of its significant place in history and has museums dedicated to the Armenian history including the Armenian Genocide Memorial. However, as the country competes for its place in the global community it continues to grow and embrace the present and the future. Yerevan has modern shopping centres, vibrant art galleries, a rich café culture and music scene as well as some other uniquely Yerevan venues.

You can step back in time by visiting Erebuni Fortress, these are the excavations, recreations and museum of the nearly 3000 year old fortress that established Yerevan. Then, step back into modern times with a stroll down Northern Avenue, a pedestrian avenue opened as recently as 2008 connecting Republic Square and the Opera House. It is emerging as a hot shopping district along with Sayat-Nova Avenue, Terian Street and Abovian Street.

Yerevan is set up for dining and people watching with a side-walk café culture, where the favourite food of the locals rarely strays from barbecues and crayfish. Yerevan is a city of smokers and drinkers, and it is hard to escape the smell of cigarette smoke. Possibly the provision and the attraction to many parks and green spaces in the city is because there is no prohibition on public drinking in Yerevan, with vodka being the national drink. Drivers however, cannot have a drop of alcohol with zero being the legal threshold and stiff penalties imposed.

Also worth spending some time in is the Sculpture Park immediately north of the Opera, featuring sculptures from Botero and other internationally renowned artists. The park is the home of the Cafesjian Museum. The main part of the museum is in the Cascades – an Art Deco version of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon stretching nearly the height of the Empire State Building. It is a massive white stairway up a hillside, decorated with greenery, waterfalls and fountains. The higher level gives a spectacular view of Mount Ararat and the coloured rooftops of the city.

At night maybe spend time as couples do at Lover’s Park – the oldest park in Yerevan. Recently renovated in traditional Japanese landscaping, it often hosts open air art exhibitions and concerts. A visit to The Singing Fountains which holds a nightly light and music show from early Spring till late Autumn. The program includes classical favourites, as well as rock, Pop and contemporary Jazz.




When to Go to Yerevan Armenia

Summers in Yerevan are hot with temperatures running at 33 and 34 degrees. Winters can be very cold thanks to the proximity of the mountains.

Yerevan is a fantastic place to visit at any time of year because the list of cultural activities and sights of interest is exceedingly long. There's a mass of museums and art galleries for when you need to be indoors and a great many monuments for when the weather doesn't deter you from being outside.


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Language Guides

Russian is one of the languages spoken in Armenia. If you know of a freely available phrase book or podcast for one of the missing languages, let us know!


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