I cannot say that Yerevan is a beautiful city (well, except if you are fan of Soviet architecture) but it has a very interesting cultural life. Yerevan has very good museums which can keep you busy for a while, especially during the hot summer days. This city is also a good base camp for some day trips to Geghard Monastery, Garni Temple, Khor Virap Monastery . . . the most difficult thing in Yerevan is to choose what to do!
First day was spent around Republic Square. We visited the State Museum of Armenian History, which I enjoyed a lot. This museum tells the history of Armenia from Stone Age up to Muslim Turkish and Persian rules. Armenians don’t have a happy past and somehow you can feel it in their psyche. Their popular songs, for example, sounded very sad to me.
Another interesting place to visit was the Tsitsernakaberd (Armenian Genocide Memorial & Museum) but it was not a very joyful visit. Pictures, all kind of items, maps, etc tell visitors about the terrible story of the Armenian Genocide (1.5 million deaths) which Turkey still does not recognize. The memorial, on the roof of the museum, was very moving. The 12 basalt slabs leaning over an eternal flame mean the 12 Armenian lost provinces, today in Turkish territory.
After a long nap to avoid the hottest hours of the day, the best place to go was Cascade. This place was initially built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Soviet Armenia but it was never finished because funds dried up. In 2.001 a diaspora philanthropist and art collector renewed this space and used it to expose permanently some of his artwork (lack of space at home, I guess). He put some color, repaired the escalators, renewed the gardening and lightning but he did not care about the 50th Anniversary of Soviet Armenia Monument, which is still on the top of cascade unfinished, lol
At night, it was time to go to Opera Square. During summer time Opera Square is full of bars with terraces where you can also have dinner, maybe with live music. Opera Square is the best place to meet people, have some drinks or just walk around. It is not a tourist place because people there were basically locals. Dinner and ice cream at Opera Square was a must during our nights in Yerevan, it was the perfect place for people watching.
My Tips :
- Foreign Students Hostel. This is a university hostel. In summertime, when students go home, rooms are proposed to tourists. Private rooms have twin beds, own bathroom, a kind of dressing at the entrance, fridge and table + chair. The cheapest option close to the centre (10 min walking to Opera Square). Breakfast is included and it is very good. Price AMD 25.500