Recently, Anton Kashlikov, the editor-in-chief of the Belarusian site 34 travel, visited Yerevan. He was pleasantly surprised with this visit: wine bars, modern art, French speech on the streets and cool museums. Perhaps, this is the ideal place to celebrate the New Year.
What else did the famous traveler like?
Among the great geographical discoveries that I managed to make this year, the trip to Yerevan stands apart. The city, which I absolutely did not know what to expect from, suddenly turned out to be a Klondike of fresh and pleasant impressions.
Unlike neighboring Georgia, Armenia is extremely modest in its promotion abroad. That is why we know little about it.
Yerevan is an advanced European city, where many expats live, and one regularly hears English and French in the street. French is heard even more often. Between Armenia and France there are strong historical and commercial connections.
Yerevan is very open to other cuisines, so you can choose what to have for dinner; American burgers, German sausages, Italian pasta or French mussels. There is a special attitude to food, so there is no doubt, everything will be cooked with the utmost care, even if it is a street food.
Cafesijian center of Arts (Tamanyan St., 10), known as the Cascade as well, will welcome the visitors. The most interesting art objects are here. It was pened in 2009; the founde of Fernando Bothers, priceless! His famous “Smoking lady” has already become one of the symbols of the city. What if all cities had such symbols; erotic and bodi-positive.
By the way, the entry is free and from the upper side of Cascade opens the most beautiful view of the city, as well as the Mount Ararat.
There is a very cool museum of ancient manuscripts. If the first thing you do in any city is running to a bookstore, then you will definitely like Matenadaran. The main part of the collection consists of ancient and medieval Armenian manuscripts and books. In addition, Matenadaran is not just a museum, it is also an operating research institute, where rare books are studied and restored.
One of the strongest personal impressions of the trip to Yerevan is the visit to Parajanov Museum. This ingenious film director and artist had an inner freedom, brilliance and dangerous directness, which could not correspond to the time where he was living. You can learn Parajanov’s life story while walking around the museum; difficult creative destiny, prison, persecution, prohibition on the profession. But it is not even the main thing. The energy that is in his metaphorical, ironic, at times very frank and creepy works will not leave one indifferent. It touched me.
The Parajanov Museum was opened in the house, where the artist spent the last years of his life. It was opened a year after his death. The director of the museum is a friend of the director, photographer Zaven Sargsyan. Sometimes he also takes excursions around Parajanov’s house.
Perhaps the only stereotype about Armenia is that the famous cognac is made here. It has becomethe symbol of the country. The factory has a museum, where you can have a very interesting excursion. There is also a store with the lowest prices for “Ararat brand” products.
On the territory of the factory, under seven seals and locks there is a cellar of an invaluable collection of the Yerevan Brandy Factory. The oldest cognac dates 1902; there were only 450 bottles left. Visitors are not allowed here, but we could penetrate into the paradise and take few shots.
It is curious, that Yerevan Brandy Factory became an obligatory part of the program, as well as for high-profile guests. Presidents, prime ministers and other important persons listen and taste with pleasure, then taste and listen. Probably, if they could taste in Matenadaran, they would go there.
Recently, there has been a real growth in wine bars and restaurants sector of Armenia. We couldn’t wait to see that. One will find many interesting places on Saryan Street. For example, the wine bar In Vino (Saryana St., 6) which is a small and cozy place, where you can spend the whole evening. I recommend to start with the products of Armenian winemakers, and then act under the circumstances. If you confuse the door, do not get upset: next door to In Vino is Tapastan. As you can guess from the name, the wine pairings here as a rule are Spanish tapas and Basque pinches.
If you want something more thorough, we recommend you go to Wine Republic (Tamanyan St., 2) – a restaurant with a wide choice of wine, where excellent mussels are cooked (such mussels previously tried only in Provence). But keep in mind that this is a very popular place, so make your reservation in advance.
Another place where everyone is equal is GUM, the main farm market of the city. This should be visited for a unique atmosphere and of course for edible souvenirs. Do not forget that this is a bazaar, so try and bargain.
Sellers will take offense, if at the end you choose the same product from competitors. Be polite, but forget about sentimentality, if your goal is to buy the best dried fruits in the city, jerky or homemade cheese. I advise you to bring jam from walnuts and sudzhuk (the Armenian name for churchchella) – perhaps the best souvenirs from Armenia, excluding cognac, of course.
One trip to Armenia cannot be limited to Yerevan and the author recommends looking at a lot of ancient temples and other sights, which are numerous in this small and very beautiful country.