Երևան

Hrasdan valley, Երևան

Never did I underestimate a country as I did with Armenia. It was the first Christian country and its capital city Երևան was founded 29 years before Rome, Italy. The result of this long and culturally rich past can be seen in numerous museums and temples throughout the country. During Soviet times the Asian face of Երևան was nearly fully destroyed – today the city centre is very modern, financed in relevant parts by money coming from the diaspora (created by the genocide of 1915).

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Armenian

Translation, Zvartnots, Երևան

The language of Armenia is an Indo-European language which strong connections to the Greek language and many words taken over from Iranian. It is spoken in Armenia and the internationally not accepted Republic of Artsakh (or Nagorno-Karabakh). But because of the large Armenian diaspora, it is spoken in different other countries. Additionally, it is used together with one of the most beautiful alphabets I’ve ever seen.

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Public transport

Public transport, Երևան

Getting around at Երևան, Armenia, by public transport is cheap (~100 drams per ride, that is 0.20 Euros) but not that easy. The system is a combination of buses, trolleybuses, shared taxis and a metro system. I dislike taking buses in places like this because it is hard to find out where which bus is going and where to exit – especially because of the beautiful but for me unreadable Armenian alphabet. And on the other hand, using taxis is very cheap for a foreigner in this country and ordering one by the gg smartphone app (which was installed when I received my YerevanCard) is so easy.

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Making new friends

Zoo, Երևան

The zoological garden if Երևան, Armenia, is a zoo in constant transformation and therefore interesting to visit. Ten years ago the conditions for the animals must have been rather bad but things changed for the better: the lions now have a shiny new area and the wolves and bears can roam around freely in large territories. On the other hand dogs (living on the streets here often) broke into the zoo and killed the kangaroos – which lead to the director quitting because he was unable to protect his animals.

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Ararat brandy

Ararat brandy factory, Երևան

If there would be only one thing that Երևան, Armenia, is known for throughout the world then it would by brandy. The good conditions for growing wine in Armenia have been used for a very long time to produce brandy (in other parts of the world also called cognac). In 1887 a state-owned company was founded that is only allowed to buy grapes from Armenia – in 1998 it became part of the Pernod Ricard Group. Ararat brandy was very famous during Soviet times and is now available all over the world.

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Sergei Parajanov

Sergei Parajanov museum, Երևան

Some years ago I decided that I don’t know enough about movies and watched all the classics that I thought one must have seen. Afterwards I believed that that I’m quite an expert. Oh boy was I wrong. Once again I was bound to the things typical for my cultural sphere and I didn’t recognize what was behind its borders. When I came to Երևան, Armenia, I visited the Sergei Parajanov Museum – more by accident than by intention and had to understand that I know nothing.

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Erebuni

Erebuni museum, Երևան

The germ cell of the capital city of Armenia is located on a mountain called Arin-Berd south of the city. Erebuni is a fortress created in 782 BC which makes Երևան one of the oldest cities in the world. Next to the mountain, you can today find a museum with a very impressive exterior design referring to the time the castle was built. Within you can learn about the excavations made here, see a lot of items found at this place and get more information about ancient Երևան.

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Children‘s railway

Children's railway, Երևան

The children’s railway is a hidden gem of Երևան, Armenia. It is a narrow-gauge railway for kids opened in 1937, and it was operated according to the standards of normal railways by the communist youth organization. You can find many of these children’s railways throughout the influence sphere of the former Soviet Union. The goal was to create interest in railway employee jobs early – and I guess I would have had fun with that, too.

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Zoravor

Zarovar church, Երևան

Sunday morning. A very old small church hidden in a backyard between high houses. Ancient stone, a cat roaming around. I’m sitting down in the first room normally for the non-baptised to not disturb the religious service. Listening to the chants of the worshippers in a non-understandable language. The smell and smoke of olibanum in the air. Every now and then somebody enters, prays, makes the sign of the cross, touches the walls of the church three times. Before he or she continues he ignites a small yellow candle and places it in a very old metal tray full of water. A mystical situation.

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Radio Yerevan

Radio Yerevan, Երևան

The funny thing is that I first heard about Երևան, the capital city of Armenia, by jokes. And I’m definitely not the only one. During the times of a split Germany, it was impossible to criticise the government of East Germany without serious consequences – if you were living in the GDR. Therefore someone invented the fictitious radio station Radio Yerevan and jokes that always followed the same schema: ‘Radio Yerevan was asked‘, ‘Radio Yerevan answered: in principle yes, but…‘.

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