One of Eurasia’s hidden gems is the small country of Armenia. Tucked in between Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, Armenia typically goes unnoticed. However, Yerevan, Armenia’s capital has blossomed. Dubbed the “Pink City” due to the pink colored tufa stone used in construction that glistens pink in the summer sun, Yerevan has emerged as one of Europe’s hidden secrets.
For those who are only in Yerevan for a brief amount of time, there is so much to see. Yerevan is a bustling city of a million people. There are many universities, shops, restaurants, and parks.
When in Yerevan, a must see is Republic Square. The square glistens with pink tufa stone. Around the square are two hotels, a post office, a government building, an ice cream shop, and the History Museum of Armenia. The History Museum of Armenia is a must see! However, it is closed on Mondays so plan accordingly. Moreover, if you visit Yerevan in the heart of the summer, the square bustles with activity galore. In the summer time, a stroll around Republic Square is beautiful. The most relaxing thing, I found, is to buy a 500 dram (just over $1) ice-cream cone and sit in a bench near the fountain. It soothes the soul. During the summer time, every night the fountains in the square dance. For over an hour, music plays and the fountains perform. Crowds flock to the fountain show, so get there early for the best seats/standing area.
Another must for Yerevan is to wander down the streets around Republic Square and discover the unique craft shops and carpet shops. Seeing Armenian wares is fascinating and unlike anything Americans make. Not too far from the square is Yerevan’s main mosque, the Shia mosque known as Blue Mosque. The mosque is beautiful and in te middle of a busy Yerevan street. If you do not know where to go, you will not find it. It is tucked away in a corner off the street. However, the mosque is one of Armenia’s few due to the mostly Christian population. It is definitely a must see.
Another area of Yerevan essential to see is Freedom Square. It is here that the Opera House lies. If you happen to be in town when there are activities at the Opera House, go! You will not regret it (or so I have been told, there were no events during my stay in Yerevan). Also nearby is Cascade. If you do not do anything I recommend, go to Cascade! Cascade is a grand and massive outdoor stairway leading to Mother Armenia, the iconic symbol of Armenia. Cascade is divided into levels and each level has an artwork display. If you do not feel like hiking up the stairs, there is an indoor escalator that takes you to the top as it passes by art exhibits. From the top, the view of Mount Ararat, if it is a clear day, is astounding, one of the best viewing points in Armenia.
The last must-do for a brief 24 hours in Yerevan is to see Zvartnots Cathedral! The first ever circular cathedral was built in the 600s, however, it collapsed before the turn of millennium. The ruins were discovered in the 1900s and excavations have been ongoing ever since. Zvartnots in the summer, I must warn, is extremely hot. You will feel the heat radiating off the tufa stone under your feet. If you sit on the ruins, you might get burned (it was the worst minute of my life waiting for the picture to be taken). Also, go inside to the museum! The museum explains the church’s history and holds pretty cool artifacts!
Yerevan is an amazing city, it is worth spending time there. However, if you do visit Armenia, I recommend more than a day. A day is hardly enough time to even see Yerevan!
Extra Pictures from Yerevan: