Old Yerevan refers to all the streets, parks, shops, churches, schools, courtyards and finally, the people, who spent their childhood, grew up, fell in love, started families, worked and spent their whole life in their favorite city.
Much has changed now in Yerevan, but the love and feelings people have for this incredibly beautiful and addictive city will never change.
2018 is going to be a special year for all Armenians! They will celebrate the 2800th anniversary of the foundation of the capital city, YEREVAN.
It’s even impossible to describe how much one of the oldest cities in the world has changed over centuries. But one thing is for sure; Yerevan has never been so popular among tourists as it is today, in the 21st century.
Famous for its cultural activities, museums, theatres, and nightlife, Yerevan has become a major tourist destination. It is the financial, business and political hub of the country as well.
Anyway, the older generation always recalls old Yerevan with its old buildings and parks, fountains and cars, traditions and atmosphere.
Maybe that’s why the Urban Planning Council of Yerevan plans to put the city’s most historic buildings or those that best represent 19th and early 20th-century architecture on one street. If all goes as planned, the street will be called “Old Yerevan”.
Interesting Facts about Old Yerevan
Prior to 2018 celebrations, we’ve decided to present you a special list of 10 most interesting facts about Yerevan, a city like no other.
Plus, go a bit further to check out 10 photos of old and modern Yerevan and see how the streets and different buildings have changed over the time.
These photos showcase the unique beauty of the city and all the picturesque spots you are going to see and love while in Yerevan.
- Yerevan is the capital of Armenia, one of the oldest cities in the world, and the largest city in Armenia. People have been living in the territory of Yerevan since the 4th millennium BC.
- Archaeological evidence which very often is considered the “stone passport” of Yerevan, serves as a proof that the city was founded by Argishti I in 782 BC.
- The city was first called Erebuni and only in the course of time came to be known as Yerevan. In fact Yerevan is the 13th capital city of Armenia.
- The name “Yerevan” has always been interpreted in various interesting ways.
- Notably, Yerevan started blooming during the Soviet Union era. The city was reconstructed and built upon prominent architect Alexander Tamanyan’s design. Tamanyan successfully incorporated national traditions with contemporary urban construction.
- Tamanyan applied in his urban planning the natural stone of Armenia, the pink tuff. That’s why Yerevan is sometimes called the “pink city”.
- Among some of the buildings and squares built during the Soviet era is Andrei Sakharov Square, Freedom Square, Republic Square, State Medical University, Opera House, Government House etc.
- Yerevan was initially designed for a population of 150,000. The city was quickly transformed into a modern industrial metropolis of over one million people. New educational, scientific and cultural institutions were founded as well.
- After the end of 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 commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Yerevan was the location of a demonstration, the first such demonstration in the Soviet Union, to demand recognition of the Genocide by the Soviet authorities.
- In 1981 the first stations of the Yerevan Metro opened.
- 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 the image of Ararat in the upper part. The emblem is a rectangular shield with a blue border.
- Since 2000, central Yerevan has been transformed into a vast construction site, with cranes erected all over the Kentron district.
- Many new streets and avenues were opened, such as the Argishti Street, Italy Street, Saralanj Avenue, Monte Melkonian Avenue, and the Northern Avenue.
- Now Yerevan is the financial and business hub of the country and is home to many international organizations.
With a variety of picturesque spots, historical sites, nightclubs, pubs, street and jazz cafés, high-end restaurants and theatres, Yerevan has become a major tourist destination where no one has time to get bored. Make sure you won’t either!
Old Yerevan Spots 1 | Abovyan Street
Without any exception, there is a street in every city that is full of the most important buildings and is the most popular place among both locals and tourists.
We’re going to present you that very street in Yerevan. Welcome to Abovyan Street, a street where many residents of Yerevan spent their crazy student years, some worked and the others fell in love simply crossing the street.
Looking at the 2 photos of this unique street we can enumerate millions of differences between them.
One major difference is the name of the street. In the past, instead of Abovyan, the street was called Astafyan after Mikhail Astafyev, the governor of the Erivan Governorate from 1860 to 1862.
By the way, officially opened in 1863, Astafyan was the first street in Yerevan that was built according to a certain plan.
However, because of 1679 disastrous earthquake, along with many significant buildings, Saint Peter and Paul lay in ruins. In 1931, the church was completely destroyed to build Moscow Movie Theater.
In 1921 the street was named after Khachatur Abovyan, an Armenian writer and national public figure.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, Abovyan Street was the city’s political, economic and cultural center with a popular hotel “Grand Hotel”.
From 1906-1918 two-store buildings, purling brooks surrounded by trees and flowers were typical to this old Yerevan Street.
When speaking about Abovyan Street the residents of Yerevan always remember Karabala who used to give flowers to the passers-by with specific love and gratification.
Actually, Karabala still stands on Abovyan Street with a basket of flowers in his hand. But a lot of things have changed over time.
Now Karabala doesn’t give flowers to beautiful girls. Instead, passers-by fill his basket with fresh flowers, stand next to him and take a photo.
And this is because Karabala is no longer alive, but due to this unique bronze statue, everyone knows and appreciates him in Armenia.
The first tram in Yerevan passed on Abovyan Street in 1933.
In the 21st century, Abovyan Street has undergone a lot of positive changes. Shopaholics, for example, will never get bored here thanks to abundance of shops here.
After finding the right pair of shoes, oversized sunglasses and spending some money at “Gourmet Dourme” Chocolate House it’s time to approach the nearest ATM and withdraw cash from your card for further purchases.
Are you done? Then let’s head to Saint Anna Church. On your way don’t get surprised to meet hundreds of enthusiastic students. They all study either at Yerevan State Medical University or Yerevan State University.
Being at the heart of capital Yerevan, now there are a lot of cozy restaurants and cafes on this street, such as Artbridge, Café Central, Le Cafe de Paris, Abovyan 12, and many more.
Many residents, especially representatives of the older generation will confirm how much Abovyan Street has changed over the years. But there’s one thing that will always be the same: it’s the residents’ LOVE towards their favorite street of Yerevan.
Old Yerevan Spots 2 | Mastots Avenue – Pak Shuka
Reading one of our older articles you would get in-depth information about Yerevan City, not the capital of Armenia, the biggest supermarket chain in Yerevan.
Yerevan City has several branches in the city. One of them is situated on Mashtots Avenue, the central and the longest avenue of Yerevan.
This 14000 sq meters building includes an underground car park, store, supermarket, trading mall, entertainment and food court area.
On the 2nd and on the 3rd floors you can find many restaurants, entertainment places and bars such as the” Wasabi sushi bar”, the “Orange Elephant”, “Madagascar Gamezone” for children and so on.
However, this very building hasn’t always been famous for this Armenian supermarket. There used to be a unique place full of traditions and a lot of mouthwatering foods.
The historic Pak Shuka (or “Closed Market”) was a central agricultural market on Mashtots Avenue, constructed in 1952 by engineer Hamazasp Arakelyan and designed by famous architect Grigor Aghababyan.
Pak Shuka has for decades been one of the city’s major landmarks. It was even listed on the State List of Immovable Historical and Cultural Monuments of Yerevan as an officially recognized architectural monument.
The massive semicircular iron structure with intricate detail made Pak Shuka an amazing artwork and a real masterpiece.
Passing through this work of art, residents of Yerevan and tourists stepped inside to discover a real museum of food.
They were greeted by generous Armenian vendors who sold ample portions of sun-grown vegetables, fruits, delicious homemade dried fruits stuffed with nuts, Armenian flatbread “Lavash”, “sujukh”, fresh meat, etc. All these products were displayed so perfectly that you even wouldn’t want to touch them. Thanks to the welcoming atmosphere, people used to flock to the store to get their share.
However, much has changed: the name, design, products, sellers, everything. Some are still angry and others feel quite ok with the products, customer service and design of Yerevan City.
Old Yerevan Spots 3 | Tamanyan Street-Cascade Complex
You were in Yerevan but didn’t see “Cascade” on Tamanyan Street? Then you haven’t been in the pink city at all.
Cascade is one of the most unique staircases in the world and the ornament of capital Yerevan which has become one of the top destinations for both locals and tourists.
However, comparing the photos of old Cascade and today’s Cascade is enough to understand that they don’t have much in common.
Initially, architect Alexander Tamanyan aimed to connect the northern and central parts of the city with a vast green area of waterfalls and gardens since the city center was lower and northern part was higher.
Unfortunately, these plans remained on paper until the late 1970s when it was revived by Jim Torosyan, the Chief Architect of Yerevan.
Perhaps the only similarity between today’s Cascade and 1970’s is the monument to Tamanyan bending over his general plan.
Jim Torosyan incorporated new ideas that included a monumental exterior stairway, a series of escalators, and an intricate network of halls, and outdoor gardens embellished with numerous works of sculpture presenting Armenian rich history and cultural heritage.
However, due to various reasons at the end of the 1980s, the construction of the Cascade complex was frozen.
Further development was implemented between 2002 and 2009 when the complex was handed over to the American-Armenian businessman Gerard Cafesjian in the early 2000s when it was completely renovated.
Now with 572 stairs, Cascade is a whole complex surrounded with posh cafes, restaurants, museums, statues, architecture, fountains, flowers and more.
Thanks to all of these, presently Cascade is one of the favorite places for both Armenians and tourists who prefer to work out in Cascade, dine in the surrounding cafes and restaurants and get acquainted with the works of art of world-renowned sculptors.
On a clear day, it’s worth reaching to the middle or the top of stairs for breathtaking views of the city from up above.
In a word, it’s the best time for you to see Cascade in all of its glory.
Old Yerevan Spots 4 | Northern Avenue
Are you into shopping, hanging out with friends, dining in high-end cafes and restaurants and listening to live music? We’re in the same boat. Northern Avenue, the most crowded and noisy avenue in Yerevan is the best place to do all the above-mentioned things.
Northern Avenue was constructed at the beginning of the 2000s and officially opened in 2007, connecting Opera House to Republic Square.
The architect of Northern Avenue was also the main Architect of Yerevan, Narek Sargsyan, who developed and redesigned Alexander Tamanyan’s plan.
Even many Armenians don’t know that the construction of Northern Avenue was planned in 1924 by Alexander Tamanyan, the main architect of Yerevan.
This plan, however, remained on paper and was never implemented during the Soviet period. So how did this area look before its construction? Before the 2000s there used to be old Yerevan Houses, preserved from early years when Yerevan was newly formed city.
Those old and shabby buildings didn’t fit into Yerevan’s image, so the decision was made to remove them.
Today at the place of shabby houses you can see high-end residential buildings though even today the buildings are not fully inhabited because of extremely high costs.
Besides residential apartments, there are also a lot of commercial offices, stores, banks and cafes, restaurants in Northern Avenue.
The Northern Avenue is home to a number of fashion brands including:
- Calvin Klein,
- Tommy Hilfiger,
- Desigual, etc.
For those days, when you’re suffering from “what to wear”, “where to dine” syndromes and want to add some fun to your life, Northern Avenue in Yerevan is always a good choice. But make sure you are “armed” with enough money before visiting the shops and restaurants in Northern Avenue.
Old Yerevan Spots 5 | Republic Square of Armenia
Would you like to play a game with us? It’s is called “Find 5 differences between photos”. We are happy you liked our idea but as much is not seen in these photos we’d like to help you. Ready?
- During the Soviet Era, this area was known as “Lenin Square” with a statue of Lenin right in the center.
When Armenia declared its independence Lenin’s statue was removed and the square was renamed. Actually, several competitions have been held in Armenia to select a replacement for the statue of Lenin. So far none of them succeeded.
- In the past, Armenians didn’t spend their evenings in the Republic Square enjoying quality music and admiring the fascinating beauty of singing fountains.
This is because after years of non-operation, only in 2007 the musical fountains were renovated by the French company and cost around €1.4 million.
- Since 1996 the “Government House #2” referred to the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.
In 2016 the ministry was moved to another building. What institution will occupy this building in near future is unknown to the public, but it is believed to be a commercial institution.
- In 1958 Armenia Hotel was opened in Yerevan. After the collapse of the USSR, the hotel was privatized in 1998 and following a major renovation. It was reopened as the Armenia Marriott Hotel Yerevan in 1999.
- The drinking fountain (also known as pulpulak), located next to the museums’ buildings, consists of seven fountains and is thus called Yotaghbyur (“Seven springs”). It was erected by Spartak Gndeghtsyan in 1965. The fountain was restored in 2008 by an Armenian designer Nur.
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