A very long time ago, the moment I saw on TV the culinary program about Armenia, I knew that one time I would go there. Actually, it’s hard to tell what made me interested in Armenia. Perhaps the traditional cuisine I saw in the show, maybe beautiful views with the mountain Ararat in the background, or maybe information about the difficult political situation was the result that Armenia was added to my bucket list.
However, it took me quite some time to decide finally to go there. Armenia once again reminded me of herself in Lviv, in the wonderful Cafe Virmenka. The taste and smell of coffee brewed on the sand I remember like it was yesterday. However, the final decision to purchase tickets was made after reading the horrifying reportage “Caravans of death”.
I wanted to see with my own eyes the country so horribly affected by conflicts and disasters, located between two hostile countries: Turkey and Azerbaijan, broken by inadequate management, however, on the other hand, having unbelievable views, great culture, excellent cuisine and above all famous for amazing hospitality.
It was a hot summer afternoon, when we arrived to the capital of Armenia – Yerevan. We saw a spectacular sunset view of the pink city with the mountain Ararat in the background. Yerevan is often called the pink city, due to the color of the stone used to build it. Mount Ararat is the national symbol of Armenia. It is believed that Noah’s ark landed on its top.
We can say that Ararat has become almost a trade mark. Its name can be found on many products, including the main Armenian export goods – like brandy. Armenian brandy was adored by Winston Churchill, who regularly received it from Stalin. The brandy factory is located in the suburbs of Yerevan and it’s open for visitors. More you can find here.
Armenians cannot accept the fact that their holy mountain rises in the territory of their greatest enemy – Turkey, and it’s almost for the taking from Yerevan. You can see it from many points of the city. Definitely the most beautiful view of the Yerevan panorama can be seen from the terrace in the Victory Park.
Another important viewpoint, with an amazing cityscape of the capital of Armenia, with the mountain of Ararat in the background, is the hill where Armenian Genocide Mamorial and Museum is located. This place commemorates the genocide of over 1,5 million Armenians. The slaughter was made by Turkey between 1915 and 1923. So far Turkey has not admitted to this mass extermination.
Despite difficult history Armenia delights by the wealth of its culture and wonderful monuments. Like Iran, China, Greece, Egypt and Japan is one of the oldest countries in the world. Armenians also adopted Christianity as the first. It is worth adding that Yerevan was established 29 years earlier than Rome, which is knownm as an Eternal City.
To see the old face of Yerevan, it’s well worth visiting its oldest neighborhood – Kond. Despite the fact that it’s located in the strict centre, it completely does not resemble the rest parts of the city.
Narrow alleys, children playing on backyards, drying laundry, common water wells – all of these you’ll find in Cond.
Despite many economic problems which affict Armenia, Yerevan is a very clean and neat city. In the time of the USRR, a special plan for the city led to change Yerevan into modern metropolis. You can just go to the Republic Square where monumental buildings remind of old times. Right next to the square, there’s an unknown monument of a certain person, who seems to be ….,
The city is full of interesting sculptures and artistic structures. In front of the Moscow Cinema you can see the big bear and the spider, which reminds me the installation from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Many interesting artistic installations can be seen right next to the so called – Yerevan Cascade, high stairs leading to the top of the hill, with a beautiful view of the city. This is the main meeting place, where you can find numerous cafes and restaurants.
A place that is worth visiting in order to see the daily life of the residents is gum shuka – bazaar in the suburbs of Yerevan.
There are plenty of stalls with vegetables and fruit. Among fruit reign apricots – Armenian flagship fruit.
There are also numerous stalls with meat, local cheeses and national bread – lavash, which is the staple here. Lavashes are baked in a special stove called tonir, buried in the ground. They are paper thin and very large in size. What’s more interesting lavash prepared according to Armenian recipe is suitable to eat even for a year. This national Armenian bread has been even added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
At weekends, next to the Republic Square is Vernisage Crafts and Flea Market. There you can purchase carpets, paintings, old porcelain, coffe pots, silk shawls, books and all kinds of souvenirs, all at affordable prices.
Another interesting place is the Abovyan Children’s Park – amusement park with the old train station.
To get there plan your way through long, mysterious tunnel.
The biggest surprise among the Armenian friends has caused my idea to visit B1 districts popularly called Bangladesh. At first glance, the place seems uninteresting. Huge block of flats built during the times of Soviet Union.
However, for me, a trip to this place was a good opportunity to see another side of Yerevan and everyday life here.
After sightseeing is the best to go to Lavash Restaurant, where you can try delicious local food.
I also recommend a wonderful Alex Hotel, situated conveniently, close to the Yerevan centre and Brandy Factory. The Hotel is a new building on the Yerevan map, the rooms are equipped with air conditioning, fast WiFi and are perfectly clean.
However, the place is special to me not so much because of the facilities but open, hospitable owners: Anna and Manuel, they are the ones who make this place so exceptionall!
If you want to learn more about Armenia, get to know the closer its residents and know the true face of city, visit Alex Hotel! 😉