Since 1918 Yerevan has enjoyed being the capital (it’s the twelfth so far) and largest city of Armenia. It began its history as the Erebuni fortress in 782 BC, making it one of the world’s longest running cities. During the twentieth century, the city blossomed, turning into an economic and cultural hotbox for the region, largely in an effort to undo Soviet inspired infrastructure. Surrounded on three sides by mountains, Yerevan is located on the Hrazdan River just beyond the flat expanse of the Ararat plain in Eastern Armenia. Today, the city is home to over 1.1 million people - about a third of the Armenia’s population. Explore Yerevan on your city-break with cheap tickets through airBaltic, which brings your flight to Zvartnots International Airport, some 12 km west of the city centre.
The official language of Armenia is, of course, Armenian, which shares some similarities with Greek. A good number of Russian speakers also exist and it may be possible to communicate with Russian alone while on your city-break in Yerevan. For English speakers, the city can be a little trying when it comes to communication, but the hotels and restaurants generally have the basic skills. As for Armenian, šnorhagal em (thank you) may be a good place to start when learning the basics, if you are looking to win some friends.
See and Do
Although its history stretches back over the millennia, Yerevan has little to show for its ancient past and is mainly a collection of monumental Soviet architecture lightened here and there by pink stonework. The ancient ruins of the original fortress discovered in 1959 and located almost outside of the city, will however give the traveller a sense of 2800 years in the past, and the nearby museum, with some intriguing cuneiform tablets, certainly helps. As for other museums, the city seems to be crowded with them, and many are worthwhile for a few hours or even an entire afternoon. Particularly good are the State Museum of Armenian History with its fascinating journey through time, the Library of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) with over 100,000 manuscripts found within, the Parajanov Museum featuring the extensive prison art created by the filmmaker Sergei Parajanov while held captive and the National Art Gallery for its superb collection of international and Armenian pieces.
At the Opera House one may get fairly cheap tickets to see the philharmonic or a stirring ballet. At the Cascade gardens, one may glimpse a decent view of the city or likewise, enjoy one of Yerevan’s many green spaces, especially Haghtanak Park, where a Ferris wheel turns for entertainment. For the taste the best of the city’s "cognac" culture, stop off at the Yerevan Brandy Company and have a tour of the casks. In general, hotels in Yerevan are of a good quality and travel should include some traditional Armenian food at one of several fine restaurants, especially around the Opera House.
Of course there are worthwhile day trips outside of the city, including Mount Aragat with the fortress of Amberd with its underground tunnels connected to a nearby church or and skiing in the snowy mountains during the winter season.