Origins of the capital of Armenia
Yerevan was born in 782 B.C. and it is considered one of the oldest cities in the world. Although it is true that there are barely any remnants left of its past and that it offers a modern side. It was founded in the times of the mythical Kingdom of Urartu by the monarch Artagishti I and since then, it stands proud in the shadow of Mount Ararat.
Its construction dates back to the construction of the defensive fortress of Erebuni, which was built to stop the invasions of its enemies and whose ruins have been rescued from oblivion. It was the transit zone of the caravans of merchants that united Europe with Asia, which put it in the spotlight of the great Empires, and it changed hands on many occasions.
Yerevan, a city coveted by the great empires
Since the Middle Ages, it was ruled by the Muslims, but it always housed an important Armenian community that knew how to preserve its religion and culture, despite some massive deportations of Christians.
For a long time, it was coveted by Turks and Persians until it became the regional capital of the Erivan Khanate in 1747, a principality under the rule of Persia which reached certain relevance. In 1828 the city was annexed to the Russian Empire and it was under the tutelage of the tsarist authorities until 1917, time in which Armenia emancipated from Moscow and it declared itself independent.
Yerevan at the beginning of the 20th: a melting pot of cultures
At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was completely different. It had a population of around 28,000 inhabitants. There were churches, several mosques, baths, bazaars, inns for travelers, a mixed population of Christians and Muslims, and the streets were flanked by the typical Yerevan houses.
The city was ruled by the Russians and according to the Italian journalist Luigi Villari, who described it in his chronicles of 1905, you may also find in its streets “a Tartar dressed in his long blue robe beside a mullah in his green turban”. Ultimately: it was a melting pot of cultures.
The new Yerevan devised by Tamanian
Unfortunately, some people barely remember that ancient Yerevan and all the inheritance accumulated over centuries, which was lost forever. Many of its old constructions were demolished during the tsarist times and the rest, during the extension projected by Alexander Tamanian in the decade of the twenties during the Soviet domain. Only a few buildings from the 19th century have survived on Abovyan Street and the Blue Mosque, a wonder of Persian style.
Yerevan today, the capital of Armenia
Tamanian created a modern and functional city to respond to the new demands of a growing population and to welcome the thousands of refugees who had fled the Genocide. For this, he designed a city plan with large avenues and straight streets with the Republic Square and the Opera Building as a starting point.
Nowadays, Yerevan is a cosmopolitan city, with an unparalleled art scene for its size and really hospitable people. Despite having broken bonds with old times, the city has reinvented itself and it has its own personality. Despite its ancient past, one is aware that the Pink City is walking into the future without looking too much in the rear-view mirror.