There aren't too many places on Earth that when you see them for the first time they give you that, “Oh My God, Wow”, feeling. Depending on your expectations and what you have heard about it, Yerevan can be one of those places. The first time you step out of the airport or the train station you may feel like you are transported into some kind of time warp and deposited into a whole new world or you may not, but I can assure you of one thing, you have got into a place that you'll not soon forget.
Before I turn Yerevan into something that it’s not, let’s get one thing perfectly clear, Yerevan is older than the Eternal City Rome. It is 29 years older than Rome to be exact. The discovered tools of the Stone Age are indicative of the fact that the caves of Hrazdan gorge, Tsitsernakaberd, Arinberd and other ancient settlements existed thousands of years ago.
As a local Armenian I would like to offer up a list of things that can be seen on a three to four day visit to Yerevan. Some of them will be the evident, and some of them will be not so evident. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Yerevan, it will surely be a memorable experience.
Visit Republic Square During the Day and at Night
Republic Square is the hub of activity in Yerevan. During the day there are many tourists here who come mainly to visit the National Gallery and History Museum. From Republic Square it is only 5-10 minutes walk to St. Gregory Cathedral, the modern North Complex, Moscow Cinema or the English Garden.
What can be better than visiting Republic Square during the day? Visiting it at night. Once the sun sets the square is transformed into a serenade of music as the colorful dancing fountains start. You can sit on the stone edges of the big pool and enjoy the dance of the water at its closest.What most visitors tend to do is to leisurely stroll the square following the sound of the music. With the square all lit up at night it makes for a beautiful setting.
History Museum of Armenia
History Museum of Armenia is the biggest museum in Yerevan and one of the must to visit. It is situated in the Republic Square, it is easy to reach from any point of Yerevan. Currently it is houses a national collection of about 400,000 items and has the following departments: department of Archeology, Numismatics, Ethnography, Modern History and Restoration. Here you can see Neolithic-Chalcolithic collections (8th millennium – 4th millennium BC), Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Collections etc.
Visit the Vernisage Market on weekend
Vernisage market in Yerevan is one of the most organized and cleanest open markets I have seen. If you are looking for typical Armenian souvenirs, gifts, art works or carpets then this is the place to come. Even if you are not going to buy anything it is a wonderful place to walk, admire and take photos. The art pieces of artists who sell their own works make for a colorful display that will have you curious. The market is located not far from the Republic Square, just on the way to St. Gregory Cathedral.
While touring in Yerevan center, make sure to visit the Cascade Complex and see the unique pieces of contemporary art. It is a massive white stairwell built into a hillside with fountains running down them. In summer there are many outdoor concerts organized here. The Cascade is considered one of the most relevant places in Yerevan. It provides stunning views of Mount Ararat and the whole city center. People, mostly couples, friend groups and tourists, jog on the stairs stopping on each floor to see some kind of statue or monument.
Get lost for a few hours - maps not allowed
There is nothing like wandering the back streets of Yerevan with no particular agenda and no map to guide you around. It is this way how you will discover the real life in Yerevan, the Yerevan where the locals live, and shop, and go about their daily lives. If the crowds have started getting to you then it is the perfect remedy. Take your camera, leave the map behind and wander aimlessly around the city for a really interesting experience. When you want to find your way back simply follow the signs leading you to the Republic Square and soon enough you’ll have your bearings.