City tour and the Mother Cathedral

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September 13th 2016
Published: October 1st 2017
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Geo: 40.1596, 44.509

Hot all day

After brekkies, we got in the van and drove to the hill behind Yerevan, where stands Victory Park, with a giant statue of the Mother of Armenia … she has a sword and shield and is facing Turkey with a "if you want it, try to take it" expression. There is an abandoned amusement park at the top as well. Crossing the major street, we came to another large square with a very tall stellae shaped a bit like a sword. From here, we had the view all across Yerevan.

We then walked down the "cascade" which is part art museum and part way to get from upper Yerevan to the main city. While the very top layer was halted in the middle of construction, and so looks a little sad, the other layers are full of art from one wealthy man's collection – mostly modern stuff, but some very famous artists like Chihuly or made from recognizable materials like Swarovski crystals. We would periodically pop outside the building to look at the art on the landings and admire the fountains (which were being cleaned so not working) and then back into the building to descend via escalators (and look at the art displayed there as well).

The cascade ends at a square surrounded by cafes…and more art. We walked from there to the opera house, and walked around the opera house, which is a large, round grey structure. Not my style, but nice.

Our next stop was for Armenian donuts (like beignets) and hot cocoa, which was really good … at a store called Grand Candy. We enjoyed, probably more than we should have.

The highlight of the day, for me, was the book museum. Here are displayed many old manuscripts, dating back to the early Medieval period. While most are religious texts, there are also scientific and mathematical texts, and even an early romance. We had an expert guide, who was good and provided the right level of detail.

From here, we got back in the van and went to lunch, where we had Armenian pizza and yogurt drinks. Tasty. We had a couple quick errands to run, then on to our last two stops (via van).

Next was the museum of the Armenian genocide, which was nicely done, moving and powerful. Always shocking what humans are willing to do to each other. The eternal flame and obelisk were attractive as well. (Note re the obelisk, which stands in two parts: some say it represents Mt. Ararat and Little Ararat; others that it represents Western and Eastern Armenia; but the architect said that it represents how plants often grow with two sprouts – if one dies, the other will live on.)

We learned the way Yerevan got a metro (one line, a few stops): It was built during Soviet times. They needed permission from Moscow, because apparently only cities above 1 million were supposed to build metros. So the local head of government asked everyone who owned a car to drive between the airport and downtown Yerevan when the minister from Moscow arrived. Traffic, to say the least, was terrible, and the minister agreed for a metro to be built right away.

Final stop of the day was the Mother Cathedral, which was beautifully decorated inside with Persian-style frescos. We were hot and tired at this point so opted not to go the museum to see the spear and the piece of the true cross.

Back to the hotel, where we said good-bye to guide and driver.

In the evening, all six of us went out to dinner along the walking street. Pasta and desserts. Feeling fine.


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