A Tourists Look at Armenia
Armenia isn’t a well-known country in the United States. Americans are notoriously bad at geography, and Armenia rarely impacts American politics. When I tell people about traveling Armenia, they often ask what there is to do in Armenia. This is a question is distinct from “what are you doing in Armenia?” The former refers to the sites, “What would I [the asker] do on a tour of Armenia?” The second question references me. I’m not touring Armenia. I’m taking classes. However, I will likely not return to this country so I might as well see as much of it as possible. To answer the former question, here are some things to see around Yerevan.
St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral — A very old and beautiful church. It is a huge structure on the south-side of downtown Yerevan. Street vendors frequent the area and can be fairly aggressive. If you would like to buy something, be careful. One vendor charged a member of our group 1000 dram for a candle. That same candle is worth about 50 dram. That seems to be a fairly typical response to foreigners.
The National Art Gallery — Haven’t been here yet, but it is nearby.
The National History Museum — We went here on “free museum night” or rather “everyone in Armenia is going to be in the museum” night. It was like being involved in a very slow stampede. I wouldn€™t recommend it. However, it will give you a chance to see how Armenians view history. They seem to favor exhibits focusing on the importance of Armenia in world affairs.
The Cascade — It’s like a — uh– you’ll just have to go look. There is an escalator underneath, in case the walk is too much. It’ll give you a good view of Yerevan. You may even be able to see Mt. Ararat.
The Opera — A very grandiose venue for taking in some classical music. We’ve gone to several shows here, including the Armenian Philharmonic.
The Genocide Memorial and Museum — Pretty self-explanatory. It isn’t a big museum. It’ll probably take about 30 minutes to go through everything, but you’ll probably want to spend some time processing what you’ve seen. Please be reverent! I’m going to be posting soon about some American tourists that really upset me. I’ll also be posting a great deal of research on the genocide as soon as I return home, as well as an analysis of the Armenian sentiment we keep encountering.
Matenadaran — The repository of manuscripts. If you enjoy history and writing, check this out. It is a grand structure with huge statues. I’ll be completing my internship here. They hold 17,000 ancient manuscripts in Greek, Syriac, Persian, Arabic, and Armenian.
Anything on a hill will give you a pretty good view of Mt. Ararat. The mount itself is technically in Turkey, but Armenians claim it. They argue that it has always been their mountain. They consider it the long-suffering symbol of their people.
Yerevan is a city of art. Armenians place a high value on art and artists. You can just wander the city and find new things on every corner. There are statues dedicated to composers, painters, and writers all over the city. Expect to do a lot of walking. You’ll also need good reflexes to avoid traffic and excellent quads to navigate the many hills of Yerevan.