Armenia is a country of beauty, history and culture. This ancient mountainous country offers a wide range of activities for the traveller. From swimming in lake Sevan, hiking on Mt Aragats, picnicking in Ashtarak valley, exploring the mountains of Karabagh to appreciating the Opera, sipping soorj (Armenian Coffee) in the many relaxing cafe's and enjoying the Yerevan night life.
The information provided below can be useful for planning your trip. If you have any more questions then email us, we would be glad to help.
What to see while in Yerevan? This is a list of the key places:
Republic Square is the main square in Yerevan and is by far the grandest. It is surrounded by majestic buildings that light up at night to an even grander view. You will find the Marriott Hotel, Main Post Office, the History Museum and governmental buildings around the square. The History Museum faces a group of fountains that operate throughout the warmer seasons as the water 'dances' to music and light providing entertainment for all. In the centre of the square is a round-about that has been constructed in 2003/ 2004 and it displays a 'rug' using all the different types of rocks known to be found in Armenia. Further across where a giant advertisement screen stands is the ex-location of the statue of Lenin once overlooking the square in Soviet times.
Genocide Memorial in Tsitsernakaberd (close to the Hrazdan Stadium) in Yerevan holds the eternal flame in memory of the 1.5 million who were victims of the Genocide in 1915 by the Ottoman Turks. This memorial site is visited by Armenians every year on the 24th April, where the masses pay their respect and lay flowers around the flame. Indeed a somber occasion that shouldn't be missed if in Armenia at that date. There is also a dedicated museum close by.
Opera House occupying an entire block off Mashtots and between Tumanyan, Teryan and Sayat Nova streets, it is not only the centre for most cultural events but also a popular hang out due to the numerous cafés surrounding the building. While in Yerevan a cultural event is indeed an experience that should not be missed. Enjoy an opera (e.g. Anush or Guyaneh are well known operas) or a folk dance recital where maximum ticket prices are typically 3000 AMD for the best seats in town. Or if in town in summer, stroll up in the evening and you are likely to catch a free open air cultural show. And if none of this is your cup of tea then why not settle for a pomegranate tea or an Armenian soorj (coffee) at one of the cafes instead, and soak up the atmosphere.
Cascade is a project started in the Soviet era, and only finished around 2004 thanks to the assistance and support of the Cafesjian Foundation. It boasts a series of steps to the top of the hill known as the 'Monument'. At the top of the steps a modern art museum known as the Cafesjian Centre for Arts. Scattered around the Cascade, you will also notice many other artworks as you climb to the top including a giant cat at the foot of the stairs (where there is an entrance to the escalator nearby). There are cubic people statues at the first level exit and playful rabbits at a further level up. In summer the stairs are even more impressive with flower beds in full bloom surrounding the entire climb. Also a nice experience is to go close to the fountain area and sit at the base of the stairs and simply enjoy the sound of the water gushing down.
In the warmer seasons you will also find regular open air entertainment provided by the Cafesjian Foundation enjoyed by the public.
Mother Armenia & Victory Park are up on the hill and outside of the main Yerevan "kendron" (central) area. Victory park, once a Soviet era park housing war memorabilia is now an amusement park/ entertainment venue. The Mother Armenia statue stands on a war museum.
Surp Grigor Lusavorich Cathedral is the newest built cathedral in Yerevan. It was built to mark the 1700 anniversary of the acceptance of Christianity as Armenia's national religion in 301 A.D. The enormous cathedral is quite impressive as you will note that there are no internal support columns. It is situated on Tigran Mets Street (close to Khanjian St.).
Matenadaran is the museum housing sample manuscripts and early translations, dedicated to Mesrop Mashtots who created the Armenian alphabet in 405 A.D. Some interesting facts to note is that the Armenian alphabet:
- initially had 36 letters (2 more letters were added much later to make the alphabet one of the most complete in the world),
- was created as a prayer with each of the letters starting a word in the prayer (apart from the letter "r" where the word ended in it)
The museum is situated at the end of the main artery Mashtots Ave (also known as Prospect Ave during the soviet era). There is a giant statue of Mesrop Mashtots in the front of the building.
Operates Tue - Sat 10:00am till 4:00pm
National Art Gallery is the main gallery and displays a large variety of International and local artwork within its seven floors. It is located right on Republic Square, close to the fountains.
Operates Tue - Sun 11:00am till 5:30pm
Martiros Saryan Museum is only 2 minutes walk away from Envoy Hostel on the corner of Saryan and Tumanyan streets. Saryan is a popular 20th century artist with his colourful paintings, some with an oriental influence but mostly Armenian landscape themes.
Operates Fri - Tue 10:30am till 4:30pm
Click here for the website.
Parajanov Museum houses a great collection of Sergei Paradjanov's work of arts. The artist is famous for his quirky and eccentric artwork as well as his infamous cinematography for instance "The Colour of Pomegranates" is one of his creations.
15/16 Dzoragyugh Poghots, Yerevan
The museum is open 7 days 10:30am till 5:00pm
For more info check their website.
Cafesjian Centre for Arts is one of the newest additions to Yerevan, is a superb collection of contemporary art. Situated at the top of the Cascade steps, its worth going there even if it is just to see the outdoor artwork on the steps and admire the view of Yerevan from the top of the steps.
The centre also presents special exhibitions and frequently has events such as concerts. For up to date information on events check their website.
Operates Tue - Thur: 10:00am - 5:00pm | Fri - Sun: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Most of Armenia gets around on Marshrootkas and its great to experience this as a tourist. For 100AMD a ride (paid to the driver when disembarking) regardless of how far you go, it is the most efficient way to get around town (and even out of town but for a higher cost). This mode of transport is in between a bus and a taxi as it goes by set routes indicated by the number displayed on the minibus with specified stops along the way - but you need to call out for the bus to stop. For route information please ask our friendly reception staff.
NOTE: As of Mid March 2012, new buses will be replacing some of the old marshrootkas. Initially these buses will work with 6 directions: 3, 32, 38, 54, 28 and 22
As more information is made available to the public on routes and fares we will endeavour to provide this information on our website.
Typically costing 100AMD per km it is a fast way of getting around town. Note that hailing a cab on the street can cost more than ordering a taxi by phone. When hailing a cab in the street always negotiate the rate based on the destination before getting in the cab. By law, all taxis should display clearly what company they belong in and have a meter to calculate the fare. You can also hire a taxi for out of town destinations at agreed rates.
There is a short metro track which extends from the 3rd district up to Barekamootiun. Dating back to the Soviet era, this mode of transport is also an experience complete with crystal chandeliers and marble floors in the some of the stations. Tickets are purchased as you enter the metro station at 50AMD.
First lets address What to Eat!?
Khoravatz! If you are a meat lover and can pronounce that then you will never go hungry (as Armenians are meat lovers)! It's the BBQ meat Armenian style. The main type of BBQ meat is pork (which is very tender and delicious), but you can also find beef and chicken too. And in summer you will find BBQ vegetables which is a must! (bbq'd eggplants, tomatoes, peppers) Kebab is BBQ minced meat, also a popular dish.
If you are vegetarian (or simply overloaded by too many meat dishes!) do not despair! there is a wide range of delicious salads (Stolichnitzia a potato based salad is very filling, igra a delicious medley of bbq's eggplant, tomatoes and onion etc) and spas (a yoghurt based soup) are available. Some places will also have vegetarian stuffed vine leaves (dolma) - definitely worth trying. As to find where to eat, choices are many! In particular in summer, numerous outdoor café's can be found to be a perfect stop for soorj (Armenian coffee), café glace or ice cream. Typically the food served in these café's are not of highest quality, however there are many restaurants that make up for it. Here are a few worth mentioning.
Special Discount for Envoy Hostel and Tours Guests:
Out of a desire and commitment to delight all our guests, we have hand picked a selction of our Team's favourite restaurants and have made arrangements to provide a special discount - only available if you use our services (ie stay at Envoy or take our Tours). Please note there is no obligation for you to dine at any of these places and Envoy receives no commission whatsoever. This is simply something a little extra for you to enjoy because we care (plus their food is yum!)
Listed in alphabetic order:
Ice Club - The Ice Club of Yerevan is the 15th in the world. The 30 tones of crystal clear ice sculptors, with their inimitability, lights and color effects are very impressive. The combination of sculpture images, unique and nice atmosphere takes you to the to the imaginary ice age. In this ice museum you can try their special “Ice glintwein” (warm vine), different variety of drinks and snacks. (10%)
Gusto Pizzeria - This is a wonderful place for gourmet pizzas, pastas and calzones. If you like Italian cuisine Gusto Pizzeria is one of the best places to visit in Yerevan. They are centrally located, right in the heart of Yerevan with great interior and design. You can find them on Abovyan Street. (10%)
The Beatles - now you can go back to Liverpool of the 1960s without leaving Yerevan. The songs of the famous pop and rock group, the walls decorated with their pictures, the twilight of the hall and a table looking down at you from the ceiling; create a unique combination of modern style and nostalgia. Positioned on Pushkin Street, in walking distance to Envoy. (10%)
Vistro - conveniently around the corner from Envoy, Vistro is a basement cafe serving a range of modern and delicious food. In summer its recommended to try their herb ice tea's. Their mini chicken burgers are simply delicious and so is their range of salads (caesar is our pick! yum!). (10%)
Other Great Paces to Eat in Yerevan:
Artbridge - A cosy bookshop/ café on Abovyan offering a range of fresh menu items (sandwichs, pastas etc). This is also another popular diasporan and expat hangout.
Grand Candy - Yet another institutions of Yerevan! Situated close to the Madenadaran at the end of Mashtots, it is not quite a café but an iconic Armenian food experience, better known as the 'bonchikanotz". It is famous for its very affordable and sweet 'bonchiks' the Armenian equivalent of the doughnut, no hole but filled with cream. Best eaten hot, it is an experience you should have when visiting Armenia.
Mer Gyough - Translated to "Our Village" is a quaint little restaurant on Sayat Nova (behind the Opera). This friendly little place offers great quality traditional Armenian food including stuffed wine leaves, lentil dishes with yoghurt dressings and more. Complete with a hand written menu, chipped plates, and waiters/ waitresses dressed in traditional clothes it is the closest thing to actually being in a village.
Old Erevan - 1 Northern Ave (corner of Tumanyan St, Opposite the Opera). A four storey restaurant each level with a different theme and décor, all with its own live entertainment is definitely a unique experience. Feast on a wide variety of khorovatz here (bbq meats and vegetables).
Old Tbilisi - Hope you are planning to visit our neighbours while in the caucaus' and in particular Georgia as they are famous for their fabulous food! Try some delicious Ajarian khachapouri (best described as a bread boat with cheese and egg), khinkali (giant pasta parcels with minced meat) and more. Still in the city circle (5-10 minutes drive) but perhaps a bit far to walk from Envoy - ask reception to book you a taxi.
Poplavok - An icon and landmark in its own right, it is well known by the locals. It is set on a man made lake with paddle boats and typically has live jazz music. It offers an extensive menu but is best known for its name. Poplavok means fishing float in Russian as it appears to be bopping on the water.
Square One - A modern western standard café offering also a delivery menu is also known to be a hang out for spyurkahay's (Armenian Diaspora's). Order from a range of sandwich and burgers. located on Abovyan Street it is in a very central position.
Highly Recommended: These markets are highly recommended as a tourist destination.
Vernisage is a popular market in Yerevan known for its high quality local handcraft and souvenirs. The market is held only on Saturday and Sundays typically between 10 am and 6 pm (sometimes later in Summer). Although an open air market, it operates around the year come rain, shine or snow! Vernisage is stretched between Khanjyan and Nalbandyan (from the foot of the metro on Nalbandyan to Khanjyan).
Hurry before time runs out! Pak Shooka is closing for renovations in 2011
Pak Shooka is an institution of Yerevan. This "Closed Market" as it is literally translated to is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. It is the main market on the Mashtots Ave artery in Yerevan (opposite the blue mosque) with vendors selling all sorts of fresh and preserved produce, herbs and spices. The produce is organic and tastes amazing! the preserved fruits are all home made. The market is worth visiting if not for the food then for the ambiance and the amazing entrance door structure - a work of art in its own right. There is talk that the Pak Shooka will be closing for renovation in 2011 - so make sure you visit this spot before time runs out!
For more about the Pak Shooka read our blog.
General Trade Markets:
Need a new pair of shoes, luggage, or some trendy new clothes? These markets are where you are likely to find it. Just take note that for most of the markets in Yerevan you'd be better off to have a compass and map in hand! But its worth the adventure! Take your camera and enjoy it as a sight seeing experience even if you dont have anything to buy (for that purpose Rasia and Ferdos are the most intriguing).
Tip: Must say if you are after shoes - look to find local made shoes - the leather is beautiful, prices are good compared to Western Europe and you cant beat on quality.
Yeritasardakan metro entrance also has a small market. There is a large collection of books on sale at the entrance and inside there is a small amount of fashion, house ware, children's gear. This also used to be a .department store. in the Soviet days. You are sure to find much more range of products these days! Yeritasardakan is off Abovyan, further up from Sayat Nova where the metro entrance is.
Petak is an indoor market on two levels with stalls selling fashion, footwear, house ware and food items. Petak is behind Sourmaloo (a wholesale market off Arshakoonyats St.).
Ferdos is a small, winding, overcrowded-rabbit-warren like market. But don't get put off by any of this, in fact all these features adds to the character of this popular market. If you find a bargain don't think twice and get it as you might not be able to find you way back to the same stall again! There are lots of stalls selling fashion, footwear and house ware items. Enjoy this charming market typical of what you would find in the middle east! Ferdos is located on Tigran Mets between the Hrabarak and Khanjyan. It has a small entrance off the street, so make sure to ask so you don't walk past it!
Hrazdan markets is situated right next to the Hrazdan Stadium. It is an indoor complex of stalls. One of the more expensive markets in town but has a large and interesting range of fashion and footwear.
Tashir is the newest shopping complex in Yerevan. A department store in the Soviet days it was known as the 'Goom' which locals still refer to. It has several levels of stores you would expect to find in any shopping mall including a supermarket on the ground floor, eating areas, exclusive boutiques, fashion and footwear, stationary stores, jewellery stores etc. Tashir is situated further down from Rasia on Tigran Mets.
Voski Shooka means Gold market. This is where you can have any gold jewelry made to order or buy a ready made item. It is located on Khorenatsi St (previously Marx St) closer to Khanjyan St.
54 Pushkin Avenue, Yerevan 0002, Republic of Armenia
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