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Yerevan is the political, industrial and cultural epicentre of the Republic of Armenia. It’s easy to fall for this city’s antiquated charm, with its Stalinist and Neoclassical architecture and mountain backdrop. Book a flight to Yerevan with Qatar Airways and soak up the Caucasus allure of this unique and friendly locale.
What you’ll find most impressive about the capital are the buildings, awash with a pinkish-orange shade, earning Yerevan the nickname “Pink City”.Porous pink tuff – a kind of rock made of volcanic ash – used in the construction of everything from historic buildings to modern-day shopping centres gave the eponymous city its vivid tint. The city’s masterplan was the brainchild of Soviet-born Armenian architect Alexander Tamanian. In the 1920s, he designed Yerevan’s wide streets and boulevards in the Neoclassical revivalist style, reminiscent of Paris and Saint Petersburg.
Although much of Yerevan is relatively recent – built during the Soviet era – there are some reminders of a bygone civilisation that still stand. One of the city’s key attractions is the ancient Erebuni Fortress, ruins of a fortified city believed to be 3,000 years old. The current and exceptionally well-preserved structure is the best example of Urartian-Period construction in the country.
At the heart of the city is the Opera and Ballet National Academic Theatre, a stunning building believed to be modelled on the Semperoper of Dresden. If you’re a music-lover, you can take a trip to Yerevan and look forward to an extensive programme of concerts and operas. Thanks to Armenia’s position as a rising star in the South Caucasus region, the opera house now attracts high-profile musicians and singers from around the world.
Just north of the Opera and Ballet Theatre is the Cascade complex, which houses the Sculpture Park and Cafesjian Center for the Arts. The Cascade is a towering Art Deco representation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, featuring sprawling gardens, artificial waterfalls and sculptures inspired by Armenian heritage. The area’s highlight is the 572-step stairway, which, at 302m from the bottom to the top, may be a bit daunting. But if you do decide to climb it, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the city and Mount Ararat.
If you are into contemporary art, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts is well worth a visit. It offers a variety of exhibitions, including collections from its founder Gerard L Cafesjian, as well as lectures, films, concerts and educational programmes for adults and children.
Museums are very popular in Yerevan, and one of the most visited is the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, which was built in 1957. Originally called, and still locally referred to as, Matenadaran, it was renamed in 1962 to honour Surb Mesrop Mashtots, creator of the Armenian alphabet. Later in the 1960s, large statues of famous Armenian scholars such as Toros Roslin, Anania Shirakatsi, Movses Khorentasti, Mkhitar Gosh and Firk, were placed on either side of Matenadaran’s entrance.
Today, the Matenadran holds an impressive collection of nearly 17,000 manuscripts and 30,000 other documents.
Yerevan has a thriving music scene and the Opera and Ballet Theatre’s programme offers affordable and high-quality entertainment all year round. Concerts are also performed in the Cascade and Lovers’ Park, and throughout the year a series of festivals brighten up the city.
Film-lovers will particularly enjoy the Golden Apricot film festival, held annually in July. If you want some quiet time, stroll through the Yerevan Green Belt, a series of parks that offer you the ch /content/dam/images/renditions/horizontal-3/destinations/armenia/yerevan/h3-yerevan-outdoor.jpg ance to relax in beautiful surroundings. The most popular parks in this network are Paplavok and Circular.
No matter where you are inside the city, you can be guaranteed to find a café, restaurant or snack bar. The restaurant scene in Yerevan offers everything from authentic local cuisine, to international fare.
Traditional Armenian cuisine has a large variety of richly flavoured dishes, including kufta (a stuffed meatball made of lamb or beef). Tolma (rolled-up grape leaves filled with meat and vegetables) and ghapama (pumpkin, stuffed with rice, dried fruits, cinnamon, butter and honey) are also popular choices.
A traditional Armenian dish, usually served during winter and at big gatherings, is khash, a bovine soup served with lavash (flatbread). Khash is very much part of the Armenian social fabric. It takes hours to cook, and eating it is a gastronomic ritual that involves a series of steps before you can tuck in.
Also, during your trip to Yerevan, don’t miss the traditional sweets, gata and pakhlava.
If you’re looking for souvenirs during your visit to Yerevan, head to the Vernissage, a weekend open-air market located east of Republic Square. Here you’ll find everything from rugs and folk art to paintings and trinkets. There is also the art market, which is a wonderful opportunity to pick up works by local artists and artisans.
Carpets and rug-making are traditional in Armenia, and there are plenty of emporiums throughout the city specialising in hand-made examples of this complex craft. If you buy an old rug, make sure that your seller obtains an export certificate from the Ministry of Culture so that your rug is not confiscated at customs when you leave the country. New rugs do not require certification, but it is best to keep your receipt, as proof of purchase.
Essential facts about Yerevan
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip