Armenia’s capital is situated on the Razdan River at 1,020 m above sea level. It is overlooked by the extinct volcanoes of Mt. Aragats and Mt. Azhdaak as well as Mt. Arafat. One of the oldest constantly populated areas in the world, its first historical mention dates back to 607 AD. However, an engraved stone slab discovered in the 1950s confirms that the first settlement, called Yerbuni Fortress, was in place by 783 BC.
Yerevan was established as a part of the Armenian kingdom by the sixth century BC and had soon become a major trade centre. However, its history has been dominated by conquest and over the ensuing centuries it was in the possession of the Romans, Parthians, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Persians and Georgians. It came under Russian control in the early part of the nineteenth century. In 1915 it suffered, as did the rest of the country, during the Turkish genocide that saw an estimated 1.5 m. Armenians die nationwide. A memorial to these events is situated on the hills just outside the city. Yerevan was officially established as the Armenian capital 5 years later.
Important industries in Yerevan include chemicals, aluminium smelting, machinery and machine tool manufacture and wine and brandy making. There are also important hydro-electric works nearby. Industrial growth saw Yerevan expand considerably throughout the twentieth century with the population growing by about 1.25 m. between 1914 and 2000.
Places of Interest
Many of the city’s most important buildings are in the downtown area, with the traditional constructions of characteristic Armenian pink tufa stone in stark contrast to some of the more functional Soviet-era buildings. Republic Square (formerly Lenin Square) is the city’s central hub while the mosque of Hasan Ali Khan (the Blue Mosque) is its most recognisable structure.
With a rich heritage to be explored, Yerevan has the reputation of being a more relaxed city than many of its former Soviet equivalents.