The Cuneiform Inscription of Rusa II, King of the Kingdom of Van
King Rusa II’s cuneiform inscription on a basalt obelisk relates to the construction of a water channel from the Hrazdan (Ildaruni) River, as well as sacrifices to the gods due to this event.
Rusa II (680 – 640 BC), a king of the Kingdom of Van, received a large country devastated by past conflicts. He hoped to enrich the country through expansive construction works. Many cities, roads, water pipes & channels have been built by his order. One of his most renowned water channels still bears his name.
The cuneiform inscription denotes the significance of his historical region:
To God Haldi,
Son of Argishti Rusa
Dedicated this monument.
With the majesty of Haldi,
Rusa, son of Argishti, says:
The Kuarlini field was
A virgin land,
Nothing was on it.
By the order of Haldi,
I planted this vineyard,
Created here wheat fields and gardens,
Built a new city,
Laid the Ildaruni River water channel
And called it Umeshe.
When this field of Rusa
Bring one goatling
And sacrifice it to god Haldi,
A sheep to god Haldi,
A sheep to God Teisheba,
A sheep to god Shivine,
One “victim” to god Anik.
Rusa, the son of Argishti,
Who is a mighty King,
A king of the great kingdom of the world,
The king of Van,
King of Kings and king of the Tospa city,
Son of Agisthti Rusa says:
The one who breaks this inscription,
Buries it, throws into the water,
Shifts it, turns away from the sun,
Or says “destroy”,
Says to another “I comply”,
And erases my name
And writes their own,
Be they from Van or Lulur [enemy],
Let the gods Haldi, Teisheba, Shivine|
Have no mercy on them
And leave neither their name nor family
On the earth.
The Cuneiform Inscription of Rusa II, King of the Kingdom of Van Kingdom of Van
Argishtikhinili – Ancient Armenia
Argishtikhinili (near the present-day town of Armavir) was an ancient city in the Kingdom of Van (Urartu) established under king Argishti I and named after him on the left bank of the Araks River, in its middle reaches.
The city existed in the 8th-6th centuries BC. The ruins of the central fortress of Argishtikhinili are lying 15 km southwest of Armavir, between the villages of Nor Armavir and Armavir in Armavir province of Armenia. Over time, the river bed has shifted to the south and is now located a few kilometers from Argishtikhinili.
At the very beginning of his reign in 786 BC, King Argishti I undertook several campaigns in the Ararat valley, in the area of Lake Sevan, and the Akhurian River. In 782 BC, he built the Erebuni fortress as a stronghold for future campaigns.
Clashes with the Assyrians on the southwestern borders of the kingdom for four years delayed the advancement of Argishti I. However, his campaigns resumed in 776 BC. Founded in the same year, the city of Argishtikhinili was located in the center of the Ararat valley and had a more administrative purpose than military.
In his chronicles, Argishti I writes that the city was built on the site of a more ancient settlement of the country of Ar, and archaeological excavations confirm this by the presence of cultural layers from the 3rd or 1st millennia BC under the city.
Argishtikhinili’s area had a rectangular shape and stretched in width for two kilometers and in length for five.
In the eastern and western parts of the city, there were stone fortresses-citadels. Along the long sides of the city’s area stretched irrigation canals, the total length of which was about forty kilometers.
In the territory of the economic area spread over several remote hills, there were urban buildings. Brick walls were erected around the city with massive towers at the corners.
The fertile lands of the valley allowed the inhabitants of Argishtikhinili to grow various Gramineae and grapes, as well as contain poultry and pigs. Pottery and blacksmithing were well-developed in the city as well.
The decline of the city, like that of the entire Van kingdom, began in the years of Sarduri II after he had been defeated in a battle with the Assyrians. Presumably, in 600 BC, Argishtikhinili was seized by the Medes or Scythians and set on fire.
Around the 4th century BC, Armavir was built on the site of Argishtikhinili. In 331 BC, when Armenia under the Yervanduni dynasty regained its independence from the Achaemenid Empire, Armavir was chosen as the capital of Armenia.A fragment of the cuneiform inscription of Rusa III on the construction of a granary in Argishtikhinili. View of the hill where Argishtikhinili was located. Remains of basalt foundations of the Argishtikhinili fortress walls after archaeological restoration works in the 1970s. Inner city. Remains of basalt foundations of the Argishtikhinili fortress walls after archaeological restoration works in the 1970s. Inner city. Remains of basalt foundations of the Argishtikhinili fortress walls after archaeological restoration works in the 1970s. The irrigation canal system. Remains of basalt foundations of the Argishtikhinili fortress walls after archaeological restoration works in the 1970s. An approximate border of Argishtikhinili’s farmlands. Remains of basalt foundations of the Argishtikhinili fortress walls after archaeological restoration works in the 1970s. The border of the ancient Armavir built on the ruins of Argishtikhinili 200 years after its destruction. Cuneiform inscription: “By the greatness of the god Haldi, Argishti, the son of Menua, laid out this canal. The land used to be uninhabited, no one had lived there. At the behest of god Haldi, Argishti built this canal. Argishti, son of Menua, powerful king, king of the country of Biainili, ruler of Tushpa-city.” Cuneiform inscription: “Argishti, son of Menua, says: I built a magnificent fortress and selected a name for it – Argishtikhinili. The land was desolate nothing had been built there. I laid out four canals from the river, planted a vineyard and an orchard, I accomplished feats there… Argishti, son of Menua, powerful king, king of the country of Biainili, ruler of Tushpa-city.” One of the numerous clay karases (vessels) found in Argishtikhinili’s wine storerooms. Karases were buried into the ground at 80% of their height, and the part in the ground was better preserved than the neck that remained outside. Over 160 thousand liters of wine were stored in such karases in Argishtikhinili. Mealing stones designed for grinding grain into flour. Mealing stones designed for grinding grain into flour – manual type on the left and mill type on the right.
Kurds, persecuted by the Turkish state, are only now beginning to face the role they played in the mass execution of Armenians a century ago.
DIYARBAKIR &mdash Leaning against a basalt pillar, young Muhammad Enes calls out in his reedy voice to anybody who approaches, advertising a closer look at the historical site here in the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir. &ldquoDo you want to visit?" the boy asks. "The Surp Giragos is the oldest Armenian church in the entire Middle East. It sheltered 3,000 worshippers and a cannon destroyed its bell tower in 1915.&rdquo
Muhammad is too young to have played in the ruins of Surp Giragos, restored and reopened to worshipers in 2011. He is also too young to fully understand the massacres and deportations that these walls, this town, this part of the Turkish region of Anatolia witnessed, almost a century before he was born.
Still the children of Diyarbakir who hear the bells toll at recess time already know more than what their school history books will ever tell them about the Armenian genocide, which began 100 years ago this week.
Too often, too soon, when it&rsquos about Turkey and the Armenian genocide, the Turkish state&rsquos denial is understood as the denial of the society as a whole. That would be forgetting that the memory of the Armenian people is inscribed in the land where they lived for so long, and in the minds of the peoples they long lived alongside, including another population with a history of conflict with the Turkish state: the Kurds.
&ldquoThe people of this region know there was a genocide and they don&rsquot deny it,&rdquo says Aram Hacikyan, the Surp Giragos church&rsquos guardian.
Aram talks about his grandfather, who was an orphan of 1915, taken in by a Kurd who converted to Islam, but &ldquonever hid that he was Armenian. In our family, unlike what happened in other families, this was never a secret.&rdquo
In 1914, some 60,000 Armenians were living in Diyarbakir, notes Adnan Celik, a researcher at the Parisian School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences. &ldquoIt&rsquos a symbolic location of the genocide because there used to be a mixed population here &mdash of Armenians, Kurds, Syriacs, Turkmens," Celik says.
This is also the province, whose governor, Mehmed Reshid, dubbed the "butcher of Diyarbakir" infamously sent a telegram in 1915 congratulating himself for having doomed as many as 160,000 Armenians to deportation and death.
Adnan Celik, whose grandmother was also a bavfilleh (a Kurdish word used to refer to Armenians who converted to Islam), recently published a book about the memory of the genocide among the Kurdish people of Diyarbakir. &ldquoThe absence of Armenians, here, is an infinite loss. People recount stories of an unbelievable violence with such details, as if it had happened yesterday,&rdquo he says.
The young anthropologist stops a moment to talk about the role played by the Kurdish political movement, which &ldquofrom the start has been questioning the official version of the story, talking about the genocide and the part the Kurds played in this genocide.&rdquo
Heaven by sword
As enthusiastic and zealous as he might have been, Reshid probably couldn&rsquot have led 160,000 Armenians to death without the active help of several of Diyarbakir&rsquos important families and Kurdish tribe leaders. These men were promised and often obtained a certain plot of land or home after the Armenian owner was executed. Muslims who were promised heaven for every seven Christians they put to the sword.
&ldquoCareful to avoid any anachronism here,&rdquo warns Adnan Celik. &ldquoIn 1915, nationalist claims from the Kurds of this region didn&rsquot exist yet. Those who took part in the genocide often did so as Muslims against non-Muslim infidels.&rdquo
Abdullah Demirbas&rsquos face looks chastened when he talks about these &ldquoKurds misled by the state to slaughter Armenians,&rdquo despite having lived alongside them for centuries.
&ldquoMy grandfather would tell me the story of a priest who, to convince one Kurd not to kill him, supposedly told him, &lsquoWe are the breakfast, you&rsquoll be the lunch.&rsquo And that&rsquos what happened,&rdquo he sighs.
Like many in Diyarbakir, Abdullah Demirbas, a local political leader, sees a continuity between the genocide of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire and the killings, a decade later of Kurds at the outset of the Turkish Republic until the end of the 20th century.
Street scene in Diyarbarkir &mdash Photo: sunriseOdyssey
&ldquoIt&rsquos important that we, the grandchildren of those who helped in the genocide, face this past, not only to settle our debt but also to build a future together,&rdquo he insists.
For the former mayor of Sur, an ancient neighborhood in Diyarbakir where many Armenians used to live, "a future together" is more than just a slogan. In 2009, Abdullah Demirbas played a key role in the restoration of the Armenian church, with the support of the Diyarbakir city council and the Surp Giragos Foundation.
Demirbas, a brawny and imposing figure, admits he &ldquoalmost cried&rdquo when it was inaugurated. &ldquoI feel I&rsquove repaid part of my debt,&rdquo he says.
Aram Hacikyan says the site is more than a church: "It&rsquos becoming a gathering point for all Armenians,&rdquo he notes, citing visitors from Europe, Armenia and the United States. &ldquoSome people in the diaspora are less scared of coming to Turkey, where the genocide took place, since they know that the church is back.&rdquo
Abdullah Demirbas, the former mayor, believes they have to go further and encourage the Armenians of Diyarbakir to come back. He mentions a school, and even offers to build a &ldquogenocide museum.&rdquo
&ldquoWe can&rsquot wait for the Turkish authorities to do something on their own, so we must force them to do it,&rdquo he says.
Adnan Celik is more skeptical. &ldquoMany Kurdish recognize the genocide, they apologize, and then what? Are they the only guilty?" he asks. "The real question is what the state, which has been denying it for 100 years, is going to do about it.&rdquo
In the church&rsquos yard, still wet after the last rain shower, Armen Demirdjian nods. He found out about his Armenian origins at the age of 30. His grandparents were killed during the genocide. His father, aged 4 in 1915, never talked about it and Armen never asked. But now he wants to know, and wants the world to know too. &ldquoWe can&rsquot keep sweeping the dirt under the rug forever,&rdquo he says. &ldquoSooner or later, we will have to lift it up and shake it, and let all the dirt come out for everyone to see.&rdquo
The world’s first wine has been produced in Armenia over 6,000 years ago. Winemaking has played an important role in Urartu. The Assyrian sources also point to this.
“During the invasion, the Assyrian kings pointed out the types of wine in their lists and also the number of grape gardens destroyed. The most demanded captives for them were winemakers,” tells Frunze Harutyunyan, a lecturer at the Wine Academy, and the main wine-maker of “Maran” wine factory.
The kings of Urartu of the 8th century BC referred to Armenia as “the land of the vineyards.” The Urartian cuneiform inscriptions, in addition, refer to what has been created and planted in the honor of the god Khaldi. Grape planting was something like a feat. Famous historians and scholars Herodotus, Strabo, and Xenophon have also referred to the Armenian winemaking.
Picture: Wine Cellar from Urartu period
According to the writings of Herodotus, Armenians had commercial ties with Babylon and sold wine to them. The winemaking culture passed from the Armenian Highland to Georgia, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome.Herodotus also noted that at that time, Assyria also made wine, but Babylon received wine from Armenia. This means that the Armenian wine was a lot better.
The revival of winemaking in Armenia always depended on the existence of statehood. Winemaking has once again developed during the reign of the Bagratuni dynasty when Armenia was independent.
In the pagan times, there was a tradition in Armenia. People boiled flavored liquid from thousands of plants. During the 1st century BC, a wine-maker Pargev, who lived in the royal palace of King Trdat, learned to distill alcohol from that liquid.
Trdat together with royal retinues and gifts, and also carrying that flavored liquid, visited the Roman Emperor Nero. According to Roman historians, when Nero tasted the liquid, he became happy and delightful.
Aside from the legends, it is scientifically proven that the ancient Armenian winemaking has a history of 6,000 years. Picture: Armenian Delegation baring gift f wine to Darius the Great at Persepolis
THE WORLD’S FIRST WINERY
The studies of grape seeds found during archaeological excavations have proved that during the 6-5th millennium BC, Armenians have adapted wild grapes and have also conducted selective breedings.
Some ethnographers and archeologists, exploring wine-cultural biography discovered near the village of Areni in Vayots Dzor, close to the bridge leading to the Noravank complex, in the “Bird’s Cave”, various monuments dating from the Old Stone to the late medieval periods.
This proves that people have lived there and have also engaged in grape cultivation. Even beyond the Noravank canyon, there are traces of medieval vineyards.
In 2011, the world’s oldest winery was discovered during the excavations in the Areni Complex in Armenia. The winery is 6000 years old.
In 2007-2008, due to the excavations, it became possible to discover the remains of material culture belonging to the period of copper and stone age. Among them, inside the cave’s first hall, they found a complex consisting of clay structures.
The natives of the Armenian Highland have used and preserved winemaking traditions. This indicates that ethnic Armenians are the economic and cultural heirs of the residents of Van Kingdom.
About the vineyards of Van, the King of Assyria, Sargon the Second says: “The grapes were falling down like rain, and the wine was flowing like the water of a river.” In the oldest historical information which reached to us, mentions of various manufacturing techniques of wine and beer. Xenophon, in particular, mentions that the Armenian wines were of high quality, old and of a great variety. The methods and technologies of viticulture and winemaking have spread from Armenia to neighboring countries thousands of years ago. During the raids and control of Arabs, Turks, and also Seljuks, many grape gardens have been destroyed.
Picture: This complex includes various types of storage facilities. The winery found there caused great interest. Near the winery, there were also the remains of grape seeds. During the excavations, they also found grape-crushing tools, clay pot surrounded by grape clusters and dried vines, and even wine-drinking cup. Studies have revealed that besides Areni, there are no more places in the world where such a complex of wine exists.
Nearly 2,000 of the 6,000 grape varieties in the world were found in Armenia.The most popular varieties are the Voskehat, Garran Dmak (“lamb rump”), the Black Areni, Karmrahyut (“red juice”), Nrneni (“pomegranate tree”), Azateni, Mskhali, Kangun, Meghraghbyur (“honey aroma”), Nerkarat, Ararat, Shahumyani, Anahit, Armenia, and several varieties with Muscat scent which are currently being cultivated in the Ararat valley.
Areni Black is a strong and sustainable type which grows on high, mountainous elevations, hence has extremely unique taste characteristics. DNA analysis has shown that this type has no genealogical connection to any of the currently known other vines. Wines from Areni Black are distinguished by elegance and freshness, the typical aromas are cherry, black pepper, and black tea. The Armenian grapes have never been crossbred or changed due to the geographical isolation and traditional methods of cultivation in the past 6000 years.
In the 19th century, an invasive species - phylloxera (brought in from America) destroyed the vineyards of Europe, leaving the continent with almost no grapes. The ones that survived were mostly the American types that were resistant to the insect.Almost all of the famous wines today - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Spanish Rioja or Italian Montepulciano have American origins because their roots were unable to resist and survive the parasite. In Armenia, the native vines remained intact. The insect simply didn't reach its highlands. Therefore, the authentic, ancient roots were preserved as was the case for thousands of years.
THE NEW ERA
Since regaining its independence in 1991, the young Republic of Armenia revives its legendary wine industry throughout the country. Some of the biggest markets where Armenian wines enjoy great success and a new wave of recognition are USA, China, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, France, Belgium and Russia. Armenian wines have been presented in multiple international exhibitions and competitions in Strasbourg, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Dusseldorf and Moscow and have won various awards and medals. The ancient Armenian church – the oldest official Christian church in the world has a dedicated major holiday - The Consecration of Grapes and the Transfiguration of the St. Virgin Mary. It is one of the 5 pillar-holidays of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Armenian grapes also feature in thousands of medieval manuscripts, murals and the famous Khachkars – the only-Armenian cross-stones that dot every Armenian historical monument in the world.
ANCIENT AND RENEWED TASTE OF WINE IN SWITZERLAND
"Heres Wine" is the exclusive representative of the most notable wines from six well-known Armenian boutiques and exclusive winemakers: The Old Bridge Winery, Trinity Wines, Koor Wines, Keush Wines, Kataro Wines and Van Ardi Wines. They embody the unique characteristics of the crème-de-la-crème of Armenian winemaking and grapes cultivation and present an absolutely amazing, unchallenged bouquet of ancient but most sensual flavors of the Armenian wines.
Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook- Yerevan
The land of today's Armenia was for most of its history a rural society, with few cities of its own. The modern city of Yerevan was built on tragedy and dreams. Little more than a garrison town of mud-brick and gardens before its first brief experience as capital of an independent Armenia in 1918, the city burgeoned under Soviet rule. The flood of refugees from the 1915 holocaust and its aftermath fueled an uneasy but productive alliance between Armenian nationalism and Soviet hopes of spreading the Communist gospel through the Armenian Diaspora. Modern Yerevan was built, deliberately, to be the universal center and pole of attraction for the diaspora, with an educational and cultural infrastructure far out of proportion to the size or intrinsic wealth of Soviet Armenia. Only now, with independence has Yerevan truly become the center of both the Republic of Armenia and the far-flung Armenian Diaspora.
In 1988, when the collapse of the Soviet Union became visible, Yerevan was a full-fledged, booming Soviet city of 1 million people. A gracious street plan of parks, ring-roads, and tree-lined avenues had been laid out by the architect Alexander Tamanian and his successors in the 1920s and 1930s for a population they dreamed might reach 200,000. That goal long surpassed, the process of expansion to reach the magic million-person threshold that qualified Yerevan for a metro and the other perquisites of a city of all-Union importance involved Armenia's successive First Secretaries in sordid expedients and half-finished, earthquake-vulnerable construction projects in sprawled, depressing suburbs. Today the center is experiencing a construction boom, and Alexander Tamanyan's plans for a pedestrian blvd. stretching from the Opera to Republic Square is a massive project well on its way. Many of Yerevan's oldest and finest little buildings have been removed in this effort.
The success of the 1988 independence movement dealt the city a series of major shocks, first with the forced emigration of a centuries-old Muslim (mostly Azerbaijani Turkish) population, and its replacement by newly impoverished refugees from Baku. The disastrous collapse of the Soviet economic system (Armenia made high-tech pieces of everything, but produced all of practically nothing) triggered the economic migration of hundreds of thousands of impoverished Armenians bound for the bright lights of Moscow or Glendale. A reliable census took place in 2001, counting just over 3 million heads in the country.
The city of Yerevan preserves little of its early history in a form of interest to casual visitors. Behind the anonymous Soviet facades, however, a rich and complex life took place and still does, in the "bak" or courtyard or in private apartments far better furnished -- with books, musical instruments, art, and hospitality -- than 70 years of official culture or a decade of grim poverty would suggest. There are thousands of Yerevantsis who know, love, and can present their city far better than I, so this chapter is designed for those with no opportunity to seek one out, and with apologies for its sketchiness.
Archaeology (Section 1)
Yerevan is a very ancient place. Caves in the walls of the Hrazdan river gorge, particularly near the modern Yerevanian Lake, show traces of Stone Age habitation. The substantial Chalcolithic settlement of Shengavit, scientifically of great importance for the prehistory of the whole region, is perched on the slope on the far side of the lake (from the airport road, take the road SE across the dam, then turn left). There you will find the crumbling circular foundations of a number of rubble and mud-brick houses, once surrounded by a stone fortification wall and with an underground passage leading to the river. Four settlement phases have been identified, from the end of the 4th millennium B.C. to the beginning of the second millennium B.C.
The Urartian kingdom centered on Lake Van in Eastern Turkey gave Yerevan its first major impetus. The Urartians built the citadel of Erebuni' =40=, on the hill of that name in SE Yerevan. A substantial museum at the base of the hill formerly known as Arin Berd houses many of the finds, including a few examples of Urartu's splendid metalwork. The citadel itself was founded by Argishti I son of Menua, King of Urartu in the year 782, the first Urartian conquest on the East side of the Arax. We know this on the basis of a cuneiform inscription discovered built into the fortification wall by the gate, an inscription which reads roughly as follows: "By the greatness of the god Khaldi, Argishti son of Menua built this great fortress, named it Erebuni, to the power of Biainili and the terror of its enemies. Argishti says: the land was waste, I undertook here great works. " Armenian scientists argue that one can derive the name Yerevan from Erebuni by a series of simple phonological shifts, suggesting that modern Yerevan is the lineal descendant of this 8th c. B.C. citadel. In 1998, the Mayor of Yerevan arranged a festivity marking the 2780th birthday of Yerevan. A good time was had by all.
The site has been heavily restored, not always well, and those restorations badly need their own restoration, making it difficult to separate original Urartian walls from Achaemenid Persian remodeling. In any case, enough survives to convey that this was a large, complex center, with shrines, palatial rooms with elaborately frescoed walls, and major storage facilities. A number of smaller cuneiform inscriptions on basalt building stones attest to a "susi," apparently an Urartian temple.
About a century after Erebuni was built, in the first year of Urartian King Rusa II, the inhabitants of Erebuni seem to have relocated to a citadel they called Teishebai URU (City of the God Teisheba), the site now known as Karmir Blur ("Red Hill"). This site overlooks the Hrazdan river from a bluff downstream from Shengavit (from the airport road, cross the dam, turn right on Aragats Ave., then right again about 1 km down, and go to the end). The site takes its name from the huge pile of decomposed red mud-brick, some of which still sits atop the impressive stone foundations of the city wall.
Yerevan's history fades away after Karmir Blur in terms of things to look at, with the early Armenian kings and Roman and Persian conquerors preferring Artaxiasata to the south and Vagharshapat/Ejmiatsin to the north. The horrific earthquake of 1679 completed the destruction done by passing Arab, Mongol, Persian, and Ottoman armies over the centuries. Still, bits and pieces remain for the patient explorer.
The Erivan Fortress (Section 2)
Reconstituted in the 17th century as a Persian city-fortress guarding the marches with the Ottoman Empire, Yerevan was a key military/strategic point at the intersection of three empires. At the beginning of the 19th century, first the French and later the British sent military experts to prop up Persia against Russian aggression. Drawing on their expertise, the last Khan of Yerevan made his headquarters the strongest and most modern fortress in the Persian Empire, with a cannon factory and arsenal. The palace was large and gracious, with fountains, a hall of mirrors, painted ceilings depicting the Persian epic hero Rostom, and other trappings of civilized living.
In 1804 Prince Tsitsianov led a Russian army against Yerevan, but was forced to withdraw, a number of Armenian notables and their retainers retreating with him to Georgia. Displeased with the lack of local Armenian assistance to his cause, the haughty Georgian prince penned a scornful letter in 1805 to the leading Armenian notables of Yerevan, Melik Abraham and Yüzbashi Gabriel, when they begged him to try again:
"Unreliable Armenians with Persian souls -- You may for now eat our bread, hoping that you may purchase it. But if by next fall your people have not planted enough grain to have a surplus for sale, then be warned that by spring I shall chase you not only to Erevan but to Persia. Georgia is not required to feed parasites. As to your request to save the Armenians of Erevan, who are dying in the hands of unbelievers: do traitors deserve protection? Let them die like dogs they deserve it. Last year when I surrounded the Erevan fortress, the Armenians of Erevan, who do not deserve even a grain of pity, were in control of Narin-Kale (note: an outlying bastion). They could have surrendered it to me but did not, and you, Yüzbashi, being the main advisor of Mohammad Khan of Erevan, were in league with them and helped the khan in his intrigues and lies against me. Now you have fled, and God has punished you for betraying the favors of his Imperial Majesty. Do you think I am like other generals, who do not realize that Armenians and Tatars are willing to sacrifice thousands for their own benefit? . Do you, therefore, think that I can rely on the word of two yüzbashis and Persians, who promise to surrender the fortress upon the appearance of Russian forces? . " (quoted in Bournoutian 1998)
Tsitsianov was murdered in 1806 outside the walls of Baku, and his loss was little lamented. Future Russian leaders were more diplomatic, and found the Armenians of Yerevan better allies, though by no means in a position to liberate themselves from the 3000 troops of the Persian garrison. General Gudovich tried and failed in 1808, but General Paskevich succeeded, entering Yerevan on October 2, 1827, as recounted in a British War Office summary:
"As soon as Paskiewitch assumed the command-in chief (note: in 1827) he had a siege train carried up to the neighborhood of Erivan, which fortress was still held by the Persians. Leaving the train in a redoubt near Erivan, he marched to Abasabad, a new and regular European fortress on the banks of the Arax near Nachitschevan. This place opened its gates to him. Sardarabad, a large fortified village on a canal fed by the Arax, was next taken, and the stock of provisions found in it placed Paskiewitch in a position to commence the siege of Erivan. Erivan had already been twice unsuccessfully besieged, and was considered almost impregnable. The fortifications consisted of two walls, an outer 25 feet and an inner 35 feet high round three sides the steep cliff of the ravine of the Zangi formed a natural defense on the fourth side. Two weak detached bastions on European principles had been added since an attack by General Gudevich. Trenches were advanced under the natural cover of the ground almost up to the foot of the walls. The batteries effected a breach in a single day's firing many of the garrison deserted during the night, and on the following day Erivan was taken by assault."
Paskevich continued S to Tabriz, and forced Persia to cede all the territory N of the Arax river to the Russian Empire in the Treaty of Torkmenchay. Paskevich was rewarded with the title Count of Yerevan, and went on to further glory as the brutal suppressor of a revolt in Poland. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Armenians flocked into the liberated territories from Persia and the Ottoman empire.
Yerevan itself remained a garrison town, but the fortress had lost its importance. When Berge visited Yerevan in January 1848, he reported that the thick, crenellated mud-brick walls of the Yerevan fortress were already deeply crevassed, dissolving in the rain as mud-brick does unless roofed and maintained. The Sardar's superficially splendid palace slowly melted as well, and had become an eyesore by mid-century. In Soviet times, the last traces of the fortress disappeared the hulking basalt prison of the Yerevan Wine Factory marks the site, though the fortress walls once extended up and down the river as well as back toward town. An inscription in Armenian on the lower wall of the Wine Factory commemorates the staging in 1827 of a play by Griboyedov, a Russian diplomat/writer in Paskevich's entourage, who was murdered in 1829 with the rest of the Russian Embassy in Tehran.
<googlemap version="0.9" lat="40.180382" lon="44.514799" zoom="14"></googlemap>
The City (Section 3)
In 1827, Yerevan was a town of 1736 low mud-brick houses, 851 shops, 10 baths, seven caravansaries, and six public squares, set among gardens likewise walled with mud. Czar Nikolai I found no more endearing description for Yerevan during his one brief visit in 1837 than "a clay pot," and the Russian travel writer Mardovtsiev found little difference in the 1890s: "Clay houses with flat clay roofs, clay streets, clay squares, clay surroundings, in all directions clay and more clay." Yerevan remained a garrison town of 12,500 inhabitants, more than half Muslim, a place of low, flat-roofed houses and lush walled gardens, until the 20th century. Practically nothing of this earlier town remains, except in Kond, tucked between Saryan St. and the Dvin Hotel on Proshian ("Barbecue") and Paronian Streets. The hill of Kond was a predominantly Armenian neighborhood in Persian times, presided over by the Geghamian family of meliks, Kond is the neighborhood that preserves a taste of the city's oriental past. Set apart for preservation in Soviet times, Kond's winding alleyways and tumbledown houses are now being razed surreptitiously to build orange tuff palaces for Yerevan's post-Soviet gentry. But a careful search still reveals crumbling archways and courtyards of an older Armenia.
The easiest access to Kond is by parking in front of the large Post office on Saryan St, and then walking uphill on the road to the left of the post office. Take a short right at the top of the road (behind the post office now) and then the first left up an alley of sorts. A quick left again on the next alley will wind you along a road of clay-walled houses and past an arch with a keystone dated 1863. Continuing around the houses, bearing left at each interestion, will bring you back to your starting point.
The Medieval Bridge (Section 4)
The decayed remnants of a four-arched bridge of 1679 stand on the Hrazdan river just below the fortress, now the site of the Yerevan Wine Factory at the bottom of Mashtots Blvd. Built just after the great earthquake at the expense of the wealthy merchant Hoca P'ilavi, this bridge (also known as the Red Bridge from the tuff used) was extensively modified in 1830 by the Russians. There had been a bridge at this site since very early times, the only connection between the city-fortress of Yerevan and the rich farmlands and caravan routes of the Arax valley.
Churches (Section 5)
In 1828 there were seven Armenian Apostolic churches in Yerevan with a like number of clergy, serving an Armenian population of perhaps 4000. Four of those churches, two of them tiny, survived the Soviet period before the grand cathedral church of S. Grigor Lusavorich was built in 2001 just E of Republic Square, only one-tenth of one percent of Yerevan's population could attend services at any given moment.
The oldest surviving church in Yerevan, the Katoghike, stands nestled in a courtyard on the W side of Abovian Street just above Sayat Nova Blvd. Its current form dates to 1936 , when the old cathedral church of Yerevan, a substantial but undistinguished basilica rebuilt in 1693/4, was slated for destruction in the name of urban renewal. The archaeologists won a modest concession from Stalin's architects, that they could oversee the dismantling and record the inscriptions and architectural fragments incorporated in the rubble walls. Lo and behold, as the walls came down it became clear that the central apse, the sanctuary, was in fact an almost intact small Astvatsatsin church with inscriptions from the 13th century. Public and scientific outcry won the newly discovered church a reprieve, and since independence it has resumed its religious function, albeit invisibly from the main streets. In front of the church is a small collection of khachkar and other sculpted fragments from the core of the destroyed basilica.
The 17th c. Poghos-Petros (Peter and Paul) church was not so fortunate, destroyed to build the Moscow Cinema. Likewise the S. Grigor Lusavorich church, begun in 1869 but not finished till 1900, gave way to the widening of Amiryan Blvd, and sits underneath the Eghishe Charents school.
The Zoravar Church survives concealed behind apartment fronts in the block bounded by Saryan, Pushkin, Ghazar Parpetsu, and Tumanyan streets, a hodgepodge of architecture dating from 1693 (funded by the wealthy Hoja Panos) and rebuilt at various times, including by local dignitary Gabriel Yuzbashi in the late 18th c. and French benefactor Sargis Petrossian in the 1990s. According to ecclesiastical history, it sits near the site of the tomb/shrine of S. Ananias the Apostle.
In 1684, at the request of King Louis XIV to the Shah of Persia, French Jesuits set up a mission in Yerevan, goal of which was to persuade the Catholicos in Ejmiatsin to bring himself and his church into the Catholic fold. Effectiveness of Jesuit diplomacy was reduced by their habit of dying after a few months, but the second of them, Father Roux, became friendly enough with the Catholicos that when he died in 1686 he was buried by the Catholicos in the "magnificent monastery of Yerevan" next to the Armenian bishops and archbishops. When the newly enthroned Shah Hussein banned wine throughout his dominions in 1694, the missionaries mourned the destruction of Yerevan's vintage, "the best wine in the Persian Empire." Local authorities respected the extraterritoriality of the Jesuits, putting seals on the door of the Mission wine cellar in such a way that the door could still be opened. Nothing remains of the Jesuit mission, nor of the "magnificent monastery of Yerevan" that housed their mortal remains. Yerevan now has a small scholarly outpost of their spiritual descendants, the Mekhitarist fathers, whose headquarters at the San Lazarro island monastery in Venice is full of great art treasures.
In September 2001, the massive St Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral was completed in celebration of the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia. The main cathedral seats the symbolic number of 1,700 worshippers, and there are two large chapels near the entrance which are primarily for weddings. The holy remains of St. Gregory were brought from Italy in time for the opening, and Pope John Paul II came to pay an official visit shortly after the consecration.
Mosques (Section 6)
At the time of the Russian conquest there were eight mosques in Yerevan. On the capture of the city in 1827, the grateful and prudent inhabitants (both Muslim and Christian) bestowed the fortress mosque on the conquerors to serve as a Russian Orthodox church until a more suitable structure could be built for the purpose a few years later. The largest mosque of Yerevan and only one still preserved, the Gyoy or Gök-Jami, (gök means "sky-blue" in Turkish - more commonly known as the Blue Mosque) was built in AH 1179 or AD 1765/6 by the command of local ruler Hussein Ali-Khan to be the main Friday mosque. The mosque portal and minaret were decorated with fine tile work. The central court had a fountain, with cells and other auxiliary building around it, and stately elm trees. There was an adjoining hamam and school. In Soviet times, the mosque housed the Museum of the City of Yerevan. In the mid-1990s, the powerful Iranian quasi-statal foundation for religious propagation agreed to fund a total restoration of the mosque with shiny new brick and tile. This restoration, structurally necessary but aesthetically ambiguous, was largely finished in 1999. However, Armenian authorities, torn between the need to placate a powerful neighbor and desire to minimize the practice of an unpopular religion, have been slow to bless the reconsecration of the complex as a mosque, suggesting it should serve as a cultural center instead. There is supposed to have been a working mosque somewhere in Yerevan made superfluous by the 1988-91 population transfers, it burned down.
The Museums (Section 7)
There are dozens of museums in Yerevan, mostly house-museums to writers, painters, and musicians. The entry fee is minimal, and the staff are generally delighted to receive a foreign visitor. If the language barrier can be overcome, the hospitality and taste of a little-known culture will be memorable.
The best museum in Yerevan is small and idiosyncratic, the would-be final home of famed Soviet filmmaker Sergei Parajanov (1924-1990). Though an ethnic Armenian (Parajanian), he was born in Tbilisi and spent most of his professional career in Kiev or Tbilisi. He won international fame with "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" and "The Color of Pomegranates," but his career was crippled by imprisonment (for homosexual liaisons) and denial of resources. Under perestroika, Yerevan claimed him as its own, and built him a lovely house overlooking the Hrazdan gorge in an area of ersatz "ethnographic" buildings on the site of the former Dzoragyugh village (just behind and left of the upscale restaurant "Dzoragyugh," commonly but no longer accurately known as the "Mafia Restaurant" due to a leather-clad clientele, a mysteriously reliable electrical supply during the dark nights of 1993-95, and the occasional use of firearms). Alas, Parajanov died before the house was finished, but it became a lovely museum/memorial that also hosts dinners and receptions to raise funds. Parajanov's visual imagination and subversive humor are represented in a series of compositions from broken glass and found objects. His figurines from prison-issue toilet brushes are proof that a totalitarian, materialist bureaucracy need not prevail. Look for "The Childhood of Genghis Khan" and Fellini's letter thanking him for the pair of socks.
The Matenadaran (manuscript library) is the other world-class museum in Yerevan, not for its exhibitions per se, but rather for its status as the eternal (one hopes) repository for Armenia's medieval written culture. A vast gray basalt mass at the top of Mashtots Blvd. (built 1945-57, architect M. Grigorian), the Matenadaran is guarded by the statue of primordial alphabet-giver S. Mashtots (ca. 400) and those of the other main figures of Armenian literature: Movses Khorenatsi (5th -- or maybe 8th -- century "father of Armenian history") T'oros Roslin (13th c. manuscript illuminator in Hromkla/Rum Qalat near Edessa) Grigor Tatevatsi (theologian of Tatev Monastery, died 1409) Anania Shirakatsi (7th c. mathematician, studied in Trebizond, fixed the Armenian calendar) Mkhitar Gosh (died 1213, cleric and law codifier) and Frik (ca. 1230-1310, poet). There are khachkars and other ancient carved stones in the side porticos. The entry hall has a mosaic of the Battle of Avarayr, and the central stair frescos of Armenian history, all by H. Khachatrian.
English-speaking guides are usually on deck. Beside the exhibit hall (and a small gift shop with excellent hand-painted reproductions of important manuscript miniatures), there are conservation rooms and shelf on shelf of storage (closed except to specialists with advance permission) for the 17000 manuscripts in a dozen languages. Cut deep in the hillside behind, and shielded by double steel blast doors, is a splendid marble tomb designed to preserve the collection against nuclear holocaust. Alas, the execution did not live up to the grandiosity of the conception -- water from a series of underground springs drips through the vaults, making them unusable until a few million dollars are found for a total reworking.
The State History Museum in Republic Square (formerly Lenin Square) is notable for the statues of Catherine the Great (returned to Russia?) and Lenin squirreled away in a back courtyard ready for any change in the political winds. The important archaeological collection from Stone Age through Medieval periods should not be missed. Note a Latin inscription from Ejmiatsin attesting to the presence of a Roman garrison. There are some interesting models of early modern Yerevan and other historical exhibits of interest to those comfortable in Armenian or Russian.
The floors above contain the National Picture Gallery. Start by taking the elevator to the top, then descend through the huge collection of Russian, Armenian, and European works, some of the latter copies or else spoils of WWII divided among the various Soviet republics.
Accessible from the street running behind the State History Museum is the Middle Eastern Museum and Museum of Literature. The former has an interesting collection, including a carpet-weaving display.
The Museum of the City of Yerevan has a small archaeological and ethnographic collection. It is located in the new city hall on the corner of Zakian and Grigor Lusavorich.
The Genocide Memorial and Museum at Tsitsernakaberd ("Swallow Castle") sits on the site of a Iron Age fortress, all above-ground trace of which seems to have disappeared. The Museum's testimony to the 1915 destruction of the Armenian communities of Eastern Anatolia is moving, and the monument itself is austere but powerful. The riven spire symbolizes the sundering of the Eastern and Western branches of the Armenian people. The view over the Ararat valley is striking. More Armenian Genocide information can be found online.
Turning away from the wall of recent martyrs and gazing south, a Western Christian might muse on the 10,000 Martyrs of Mt. Ararat, who are or were still in the Catholic liturgical calendar for June 22. According to a legend that somehow made its way westward to become popular in 14th and 15th century art, 9000 Roman soldiers sent out to the Euphrates frontier with a certain Acacius were led by angelic voices to convert to Christianity. The enraged Roman emperors sent troops against them, another 1000 of whom converted when the stones they threw rebounded vainly from the pious converts. Finally, the 10,000 were subdued and crucified atop Mt. Ararat. A painting of this scene by the late 15th c. Venetian artist Carpaccio shows the persecutors in Turkish garb. Though the legend is too hopelessly garbled to link to any known historical event, and the 10,000 are not part of the Armenian or Orthodox canons, it is tempting to view the cult as the echo of one of several early Armenian cries to the West for help, help that did not come. Purported relics of these martyrs can still be found in various churches of France, Italy and Spain.
Suburbs: Avan, Kanaker, Arindj (Section 8)
The village of Avan, lying in the angle between the Sevan and Garni roads, has been swallowed up by Yerevan. Heading N past the Zoo (on the right, larger than it looks, and not as depressing as it could be) and just before the Botanic Garden (on the left, spacious and nice for walks, with some plans for redemption), take the right off-ramp for Garni, but then go straight through the intersection and turn left at the stop sign. Turn immediately right, and head about 1 km up the main road of Avan. Where the main road turns right at a modern monument and cemetery, continue straight past the intersection a few meters, then take the first left down a narrow lane. The church is about 300 m along, on the left. Like many other early churches, this one is known locally as the Tsiranavor ("apricot-colored"). Avan Church =35= (40 12.85n x 044 34.27e) is the earliest surviving church inside the Yerevan city limits, dating to the late 6th c. At a time when Armenia enjoyed competing pro-Persian and pro-Byzantine katholikoi, the Avan church was built by the pro-Byzantine Katholikos Hovhannes Bagavanetsi (traditional dates 591-603) as his headquarters, while his pro-Persian rival sat in Dvin. Multi-apsed, built on a two-step podium, the church preserves a low arched doorway but is roofless. Historian of Armenian architecture T. Toramanyan believes the church had five peaks - one in the center and the other four in the corners, over the round side-chapels. A surviving inscription preserves the name Yohan in a plausibly early style, but with no title to confirm that this commemorates the founder. The church is built on the site of previous buildings. Some restoration has been done to it in 1940-1941 and in 1956-1966, 1968. There are ruins of monastic buildings N, perhaps the modest seat of one of the katholikosates.
On a slope south of the early village, now on the edge of town, are two chapels, of S. Hovhannes and S. Astvatsatsin, with interesting carvings. Restored several times over the ages, they are believed to originate from the 5-6th centuries. They underwent major reconstruction in the 13th c., but have spent three centuries in ruins since the 1679 earthquake. The Avan cemetery on the west edge of the town has khachkars of the 13-18th c and, across the road, the uninscribed stepped plinth and broken pillar of a 5-6th c. grave monument.
Kanaker was another important self-standing village in medieval times, now absorbed into modern Yerevan. An important khachkar of 1265 stands with pointed roof near the Sevan road, erected by Petevan and his wife Avag-tikin for the remembrance of their souls. The church of S. Hakob was dedicated to Hakob of Mtsbina (aka James of Nisibis), an early 4th c. Syrian bishop who was one of the founders of Armenian Christianity. In Armenian tradition (though not Syriac), S. Hakob attempted along with his followers to climb the mountain of Noah's Ark (which back then was located in Kurdistan south of Lake Van, rather than its currently popular location, Armenian "Masis" or Turkish "Agri Dag" just across the border from Armenia). Led by a vision, he found a piece of the Ark, which he brought down in triumph. He was famous also for the springs of water that burst forth where he laid his head, and also for leading the defense of Nisibis against the Persians in AD 338. Near S. Hakob is a large basilica dedicated to the Mother of God. Both churches have elaborate carved entrances. Ruined in the 1679 earthquake, both were rebuilt soon after, S. Hakob by a wealthy businessman based in Tbilisi, S. Astvatsatsin by local efforts. S. Hakob was the seat of the bishop, with a diocesan school founded in 1868. S. Astvatsatsin was a monastic church, originally walled and with cells. Used as a warehouse in Soviet times, S. Hakob resumed its churchly function in 1990. In the gorge below Kanaker may still remain traces of a ruined "Tivtivi Vank" and of a stone bridge.
Kanaker is famous also as the home of Khachatur Abovian, the school-inspector/novelist who elevated the modern dialect of Yerevan to its current literary eminence. Abovian was a nephew of the hereditary chief of Kanaker village, a descendant, in turn, of the Beglarian clan of meliks of Gyulistan. Abovian contributed to his fame by accompanying Professor Friedrich Parrot of Dorpat University on the first modern ascent of Mt. Ararat (the local one), in September 1829. Abovian disappeared mysteriously in April 1848, leaving a wife and two young children. The favorite theory, albeit with no firm evidence behind it, is that he was kidnapped by the Czar's agents to rid the Empire of a potentially dangerous Armenian nationalist in the year of the great European revolutions. The Abovian house-museum, at 5th Kanaker St (tel 28-16-87) is presumably functioning.
Arinj is a pretty suburb on the left just as you leave Yerevan. A recently paved road turns right from the main Sevan road 2.8km past the bridge/turnoff to Garni. Arinj contains Levons Divine Underground, a fantastic collection of rooms and halls carved from the rock of a local villager over the last 25 years. Extending to a depth of more than 20 meters from the surface, these passages are one of the most unique finds in the Yerevan area. To reach the house, continue into the village about 1.0km from the Sevan road. You will see a small post office on your left turn immediately right into a dead-end alley & park at the end. A small footpath continues in the same direction as the alley and meets up with a dirt road turn left and proceed to the fourth house on the right (it has carvings in the shape of a flower bell along the roof). There are no signs knock (at a reasonable hour) for entry. Donations are expected but not required.
Basalt Pillar with Cuneiform, Armenia - History
Your tour of Armenia and Artsakh should begin with Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. Yerevan is one of the earliest sites of human civilizations, with its history dating back to 782 B.C., when Argishti 1 founded an impregnable castle and a fortress-city Erebouni on the hill known as Arin-Berd .
Yerevan was first mentioned as the capital of Ararat in the 14th-century annals. Towards the end of the 1920s, Yerevan became the capital of Soviet Armenia.
Today, Yerevan is the capital of the Republic of Armenia, a country formerly part of the Soviet Union, and one with a proud commercial, financial, cultural and educational center.
Situated in the northeastern region of the Ararat valley, Yerevan covers 300 sq. km and lies at an altitude of between 950 and 1,200 meters above sea level. Yerevan is surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains, from which one can see the panoramic beauty of the city, with Mount Ararat visible from all four corners.
Modern Yerevan is a colorful city with buildings of unique architecture, constructed from marble, basalt, onyx and volcanic tufa stone. The combination of old and modern architectural styles adds to her glory.
The main Cathedral, Saint Gregory the Illuminator was built in Yerevan’s ring-shaped park. Armenia’s largest cathedral can be seen from many corners of the town and the best traditions of church-building are still preserved. Yerevan is divided into two parts by the Hrazdan River, which flows into a deep canyon. Over the years, Yerevan has seen the construction of several bridges.
Numerous cafes and restaurants are situated in every corner of Yerevan, surrounded by fountains, where you can get a cup of coffee for less than 50 cents.
Yerevan’s center is Republic Square, designed in 1926 by chief architect, Alexander Tamanyan, with the involvement of many talented architects. Tamanyan drew up the initial rebuilding plan for Yerevan in 1924, in which the future central square’s main building, the Government House, was finished. The Square has a unified architectural style, which is embodied in the building housing the Council of Trade Unions, the Ministry of Communications, and Hotel Armenia. In front of the Museum of Armenian History and National Gallery of Art, there are fountains which unify music, water and color to provide a special splendor to the Square.
Yerevan’s true beauty comes alive at night with her restaurants, cafes with live music, discos, night clubs and casinos.
The high-quality hotels in the city’s downtown center make Yerevan an attraction for many tourists, with visitors enjoying concerts, artistic life, operas, ballets, symphonic music, theaters, exhibitions and plays, throughout the entire year.
On Saturdays and Sundays, Armenian painters and masters of applied arts exhibit their work near the statues of Martiros Sarian and Vardan Mamikonian, where one can purchase unique and valuable pieces of art and souvenirs.
If you ask any Armenian where Yerevan begins, he will point towards Mt.Ararat. One needs only to go to the top of Victory Park to see the whole city spread at the foot of the beautiful Mt. Ararat, a Biblical Mountain overlooking the City of Yerevan – a mountain which is the symbol of the silent and eternal witness of the magnificent history of Armenia and her people.
We welcome you to our capital city of Yerevan, our Country called Armenia, and invite you to explore its natural splendor.
Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern Art
The museum's collection of Ancient Egyptian, Nubian, and Near Eastern antiquities is one of the largest on the East Coast, with 7,500 objects dating from Prehistory to the period of Roman domination. The collection’s strengths include Egyptian coffins from all major periods, objects of daily life, royal and divine sculpture, ancient cuneiform tablets, and Near Eastern cylinder seals. Arranged in two galleries, the permanent collection tells the story of humankind through its material culture.
The core of the collection was acquired by Emory professor William Shelton, who traveled to Egypt and Mesopotamia in 1920 with James Henry Breasted of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. Shelton brought back a superb selection of artifacts, including the oldest Egyptian mummy in the Americas. In the 1950s, Kathleen Kenyon donated artifacts from her excavations at Jericho and Jerusalem, followed by contributions from former Emory professors Immanuel Ben Dor, Boone Bowen, J. Maxwell Miller, and others, as a result of their excavations in the Middle East. The collection experienced tremendous growth beginning in 1999 with the purchase of Egyptian antiquities from a small, private museum in Niagara Falls, Canada that were acquired in Egypt during the early 1860s. Renamed the Charlotte Lichirie Collection once in Atlanta, research revealed that one mummy from the 1999 purchase was most likely Ramesses I. It was returned to Egypt in 2003 as a gift of good will and international cooperation. In 2019, a generous gift of the Senusret Collection from the Georges Ricard Foundation added significantly to the museum’s holdings from the ancient world. The gift included gilded Egyptian funerary masks, finely crafted bronze statuettes of deities, and an exquisitely preserved coffin assemblage from Akhmim belonging to priestess Taosiris. Learn more about the history of the collection and view a selection of its objects.
Yerevan – The Capital
Your first acquaintance with Armenia and Yerevan usually starts at Zvartnots International airport named after Zvartnots temple (7th c. AD). Next you enter Yerevan driving by the Yerevanian Lake. Yerevan is the capital of Armenia and one of the oldest cities in the world. It stretches under the gaze of biblical mountain Ararat and resembles a beautiful gilt bowl to those flying over it. A basalt slab with an Urartu cuneiform inscription, unearthed by archaeologists in the south-eastern part of the city shows the age of Yerevan to be 2783 years old. Modern Yerevan is mostly a rebuilt colorful city with buildings of unique architecture, constructed from basalt, marble, onyx and volcanic tuff stone and it is a contemporary to such ancient metropolises as Akhetaton, Babylon and Thebes, Nineveh and Karkemish.
Yerevan is the present-day capital of a nation that was the first in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion (301 AD), nevertheless during the decades of Soviet “construction” many magnificent Christian cathedrals were demolished here.
The lore has it that Yerevan was built over 7 hills. By the 1860s the city had several districts: Dzoragykh (currently preserved as a historical landmark site), Kond (the Tsirani Tagh), the Old Quarter-Shehar, the New Quarter, the Quarry district (Yerkataghbyur) and Nork? The total population of the city in those days was a mere 13 thousand?
This is Yerevan as we know it today, a city of Christian cathedrals, modern airports, theatres and museums, universities and academies, parks and research labs, squares and industrial sites and, finally, of art-loving and sophisticated people.
Its vast squares, wide streets and avenues, green parks and gardens, blossoming with colors of apricot and cherry trees in springtime, give the city a special charm. Its refreshing fountains offer a coolness in the hot summer days. In the evenings Yerevanians gather around the fountains in the Republic Square to discuss their daily activities and the city?s artists and students enrich the spiritual life of Yerevan for visiting tourists.
The Republic square was built in the 1940s in traditional Armenian architectural style. The arches of the buildings lining the square and the motifs of the bas-reliefs are unique in their conception and resemble the structural shapes of the Armeninan architectural and spiritual monuments of the 10 th -13 th centuries.
The building of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre was designed by the renowned architect Alexander Tamanian. The design won the Grand Prix at the Paris World Fair of 1937.
Matenadaran, the museum and scientific institute named after Mesrop Mashtots, is the world?s richest depository with approximately 14,000 ancient manuscripts in its collection. Ancient and unique samples of world literature are preserved in Matenadaran (built in 1958), some of them have been lost in the original and are available only through their Armenian translations. The Matenadaran has over a thousand manuscripts in Arabic, classical Greek, Hindi, Assyriac, Latin, Ethiopian, Georgian languages.
Erebouni fortress-museum is housed in the ancient citadel of Erebouni, the predecessor of the present-day Yerevan. Its display includes bronze and iron tools, earthenware, weapons, ornaments and other articles made by Urartu craftsmen which have been uncovered during excavations on the site of the ancient fortress town. A visit to the palace of King Argishti, the founder of Yerevan, is also a point of interest. Remains of fortress walls, temples, water ducts and other ancient structures have left their imprint on the land.
The National Art Gallery has a huge collection including Armenian artists as well as Russian and west European masterpieces. For instance, paintings by Hovhannes Ayvazovski are widely held in high esteem. The Museum of Armenia?s History is in the same place and represents the history of Armenia from ancient times until the present. The Martiros Saryan house-museum on Saryan street has about 150 works. Each painting is a passionate declaration of love from the artist to his native land: Armenia.
Yerevan is in a position to compete with many metropolises of the world with its beautiful and ingenious statues.
The Armenia epic hero David of Sassoun, hero of the national liberation war of the 5 th century Vardan Mamikonyan, the founder of classical Armenian music Father Komitas, painter Martiros Sarian. Composer Alexander Spendiarian, the great Armenia poet Hovhannes Toumanian, Sayat-Nova, a bard of the late medieval period, composer Aram Khachatourian, composer Armen Tigranian, architect Alexander Tamanian?.and many more statues and sages you can see in Armenia, that continue to this day to inspire and motivate the inhabitants of Yerevan and cultivate trust toward the future.
During the city tour, tourists will also have a chance to see the Modern Art Gallery, Independence Column, the Tombstone of Alexander Tamanian, chief-architect of Yerevan, who developed the modern plan of the city, a Cascade Complex made of white stone and connecting Victory Park to the Opera House by a unique architectural form. The huge statue of Mother Armenia with its solemn image, symbolizing the independence and power of Armenia, and the Palace of Youth which with its unique shape attracts people?s attention from any point of the city. One can visit The Pantheon, the burial site of many famous Armenians and the unique Museum of Sergey Parajanov, famous Armenian artist and film director, which is situated next to the St. Sargis church on the bank of Hrazdan river. There is also, Tsitsernakaberd, one of the holy places in the city.
The memorial with a flame and the museum devoted to the victims of Genocide 1915 are situated next to the Sports and Concerts Complex. You can also see the Kievian Bridge over the river and many other attractions on Bagramian street: the House of Parliament, the Academy of Sciences, The Palace of President, Constitutional Court, Foreign representations and embassies, The House of Writers and Architects, and many others. The view of Ararat?s summit will guide you during your tour throughout city.
Yerevan preserves the ancient traditions of crafts. Blacksmiths, potters, silversmiths, rug weavers, wood carvers, carvers of stone khachkars all have apprentices in their workshops and studious, that pick the creative skills of the trade from master artisans.
Yerevan is a more beautiful city by night. Hundreds of indoor and outdoor cafes with live music, concert halls and theaters, hotels and restaurants, discos, supermarkets, offices, night clubs and casinos make downtown a favorite place both for city hosts and tourists.
Yerevan has a fine heart that is open for guests. The ancient metropolis never closes its gates. Yerevan seems to be waiting for a miracle, this expectation rises each morning like the sun in the firmament, showering rays of gold and dreams on all of us.
The Progress University in Gyumri
Gyumri is the main educational centre of the province educational institutions. The city is home to 3 universities:
- Gyumri State Pedagogical Institute named after Mikael Nalbandian,
- Progress University,
- Imastaser Anania Shirakatsi University.
Branches of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia, Armenian State University of Economics, Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory, Yerevan State Academy of Fine Arts, Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography, European Regional Educational Academy and Haybusak University of Yerevan are also operating in the city.List of site sources >>>