Yerevan - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Yerevan


With the majestic snow-capped Caucasus Mountain range as a backdrop, Yerevan is one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. During its Soviet days, Yerevan was known as the 'pink city' due to the colour of the stone used in its buildings.

Most tourists tend to stick to the centre of the city which is easily explored on foot, where they can expect to see some fantastic architecture, wide avenues and an atmosphere reminiscent of Vienna or Paris. Don't miss the Republic Square Singing Fountains, which are illuminated and accompanied by music every night from 10 - 11pm.

Travellers will also note that smoking is a national pastime and many restaurants and public places can be polluted with cigarette smoke, especially during the winter months when it is too cold to smoke outside. For this reason, Yerevan is best visited during the summer months when fresh air and warm days outdoors are the order of the day.

Visit the fortified city from the ancient kingdom of Urartu, Erebuni Fortress, which dates from the 8th century BC and from which Yerevan's name is derived, while history buffs will be captivated by the Genocide Museum and Memorial, located in Tsitsernakaberd, which pays tribute to the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide that was carried out by Turkey.

Religious sites include Echmiadzin where one of the oldest churches of Christianity is located, while nearby Garni boasts the 2,000-year-old Greco-Roman Garni Temple, made out of basalt and adorned with Ionic columns. The nearby Roman Baths are also a popular tourist attraction.

Information & Facts

Armenian is the official language, and it has its own alphabet. Russian is widely spoken and English is becoming more prominent.

The official currency of Armenia is the Dram (AMD), which is divided into 100 lumas. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks as well as many hotels, with US dollars the most widely recognised and easily changed, although notes should be in good condition. Credit cards are not widely accepted other than in some large hotels and restaurants. Travellers cheques should be in US dollars to avoid additional charges and there are few ATMs in Yerevan, including HSBC. It is advisable to carry plenty of small change in local currency as shops and markets will often not have change.

Local time in Armenia is GMT +4.

About 200km from Yerevan, near the Sisian River, stands Carahunge - a seven-hectare astronomical observatory complex consisting of 204 stones, 'sitting on the hill like soldiers, huddled in formation'. Referred to as 'Armenia's Stonehenge', this description does not do Carahunge justice at all - the latest research shows that Armenia's stone circle complex was established in 5,500 BC, making it 3,000 years older than Stonehenge, and one of the oldest megalithic sites in the world outside of Turkey. Believed to have been constructed in honour of Ari, the sun-god, the stones still display the angled holes that were carved into them by Armenian priests for the purpose of tracking celestial bodies. Carahunge is perhaps one of the last places in the world you can visit and literally be surrounded by 7,500 years' worth of human history - an opportunity that travellers to Armenia shouldn't pass up.

Yerevan's Cascade Complex - an enormous white stairwell built into the hillside, replete with flowing water fountains to mimic a natural cascade - links Yerevan's CBD with the Monument Neighbourhood at the top of the hill, and is an important cultural hub in Armenia's capital city. The awe-inspiring structure is not only ideal photo fodder, but also plays host to a variety of free cultural events that operate year-round, from music concerts, to art exhibitions, and more. Although construction on the Cafesjian Museum of Contemporary Art is still ongoing, there are already numerous sculptures on display at the monument - including two by Fernando Botero. The Cascade Complex is a wonderful place to walk, jog or bike around, while soaking up magnificent views of Mount Ararat and Yerevan's city centre.

Situated around 20 miles (32 km) from the capital of Yerevan, the Greco-Roman Garni Temple is a popular tourist attraction putting Garni on the map. This 2,000-year-old building was constructed out of basalt and was the summer residence of the Armenian Kings and features several constructions including a two-storey royal summer palace, a bath complex, a church, a cemetery and a Greco-Roman temple built in the Ionic style.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Monastery of Geghard is by far and away Armenia's most memorable tourist attraction. The monastery complex, partially carved out of an adjacent mountain - and surrounded by the spectacular cliffs of the Azat river gorge - was founded in the 4th Century by Gregory the Illuminator, at the site of a sacred spring deep inside the cave. The main chapel, a hugely impressive structure, full of ornately-carved steles, was built in 1215, and is a lasting testament to the devotion and architectural nous of the Armenian people. The monastery complex takes its name from the Armenian for 'Monastery of the Spear' - a reference to the weapon which wounded Jesus Christ, and was supposedly brought to Armenia by Jude the Apostle. Don't miss out on visiting this fascinating site, where even the irreligious will be swept away by the richness of the valley's history, and the beauty of the cavernous church.

Overlooking the city of Yerevan, Tsitsernakaberd is a memorial honouring the memory of the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide that took place in the Ottoman Empire carried out by the Turkish government. The 140-foot (44 m) stele symbolizes the national rebirth of Armenians while the circular construction of 12 slabs represent the 12 lost provinces in present day Turkey and in the centre of the circle, at around f feet down (1.5 meters) is an eternal flame. Every year on 24 April hundreds of thousands of people gather at the monument and lay flowers around the eternal flame.

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