These top 5 posts I do on cities are always my personal top 5, there are not meant to be “THE 5” things to do by the way, there is no right or wrong way to travel and no real “best sights” – everyone picks their own. These days I like to list a top 5 for most cities I visit and I loved Yerevan in Armenia, surprising it’s taken this long to write about it. I even added it to my top 5 capital cities from my travels…
We based ourselves in the excellent Penthouse Hotel and Hostel for 5-6 nights (with a few side trips to places like Garni Temple) and ticked off our key sights in Yerevan.We’d recommend using a Travel Agency in Armenia if you’re new to the country and you want things to run smoothly. You can also use the Lonely Planet guide to help in this region, which also covers Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Georgia:Lonely Planet Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan (Travel Guide) . Here are the top 5 things I recommend.
1. Hanrapetityan Hraparak (Republic Square)
Hanrapetityan Hraparak also known in English as Republic Square is the main square in Yerevan and I really recommend visiting it. In fact, it would be a bit bizarre not to see this place. It was once called the Lenin Square, back in the days when Armenia was part of the U.S.S.R. It’s the buildings here that you need to admire.
All around you you will see the Central Post Office, the National Art Gallery, the State Museum of Armenian History and some lights and fountain displays at night (check my videos for the awesome display).
2. The Cascade and Art Museum
Yerevan is graced with over 10 museums and I visited 3 of them when I was there. I’ll include the Art Museum within the Cascade as it was a stunning display. There is a cool mix of modern art and old school Armenian stuff, including some awesome outdoor displays including Saatchi and Vladimir Shahinyan. You can read a load more about Saatchi Art here but seeing it for real is something I recommend.
Also from the top of the Cascade you get some cracking views of the city!
3. Tsitsernakaberd (Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum)
OK in terms of world history and getting to understand Armenian history, this museum is a must. It’s really really sad and a really chilling experience, but I had to do it (I’ve also been to the Choeung Ek in Cambodia and Amna Suraka in Iraq ). These days Armenia is stuck in between two countries which have completely closed borders. To the west, all border entries to Turkey are closed and to the east all entries to Azerbaijan are closed. The Azerbaijan problem relates to the “country” of Nagorno Karabakh and the war over it.
However, more disturbing is the sheer quantity of Armenian Genocides inflicted by the Turks. It’s really really sad to see. You will be shocked by the Tsitsernakaberd. The scenes within show a detailed history of these horrendous wars. The Armenians held huge cities and towns in what is now Turkey. They were sadly wiped out.
I headed there with a Scottish mate, Graham, from the hostel and we hardly spoke for the couple of hours of our visit. It was a case of walk around and check the trees and tributes, then head to the actual flame memorial and finally inside the museum.
4. Republic Stadium
If you’ve followed my crazy journeys the last 7 years then you’ll know that football is one of my loves in life! I can’t go a few days without checking out the football scores on the BBC website. Back in 2003, my team Northern Ireland played here, at the Republic Stadium. We were having a bad time in those days and lost the match 1-0. I didn’t go, but 10 years on I was able to get inside the stadium!
The guys on the door were very friendly and let me in, I got onto the pitch on a hot day and also checked out the murals outside the stadium. Armenia also play some of their home matches in another stadium in Yerevan too. While Armenia have never qualified for a World Cup or European Championship, their club team FC Ararat once won the Soviet Union League – back in the 1970s…
5. Vernissage Market
This might surprise some of you that it made my top 5 for this city, but I loved the market in Yerevan. Colourful, proud, diverse and easy to bargain prices down, walk around and enjoy. I picked up some souvenirs here including the obligatory fridge magnets I always buy for my Mum.
I love the Armenian flag and it features a lot in this market – it’s quite a unique one colour wise with the amber in it.
I could actually go on a lot more about Yerevan and hopefully I will in a future post but I thought I’d keep it short and simple today. The Cathedral, the food, the Brandy etc. there’s a load more to see, and I had some cool nights out there too with Zofia, a fellow travel blogger who lives there are runs the Piktures Website.
You can also check out my stuff on Nagorno Karabakh, Sanahin and Haghpat monasteries to ensure you get the most out of your tours to Armenia, which is a really cool country to travel in, with nice people.
In the meantime here are a few quick videos representing the top 5 sights when backpacking in Yerevan, Armenia:
Backpacking in Yerevan, market:
Backpacking in Yerevan, metro system:
Backpacking in Yerevan, Cascade:
Backpacking in Yerevan, Genocide Museum:
Backpacking in Yerevan, Republic Stadium:
Backpacking in Yerevan, Republic Square by day and night: