Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
It is located on to the edge of the Hrazdan River, northeast of the Ararat plain, to the center-west of the country.
As of December 2019, the population of Yerevan is about 1.1 million people.
The city covers a total area of 223 square kilometers (86 square miles).
Yerevan has an average height of 990 meters (3,248 feet) above sea level, with a minimum of 865 meters (2,838 feet) and a maximum of 1,390 meters (4,560 feet) above sea level.
The history of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the fortress of Erebuni in 782 BC by king Argishti I at the western extreme of the Ararat plain. Erebuni was “designed as a great administrative and religious centre, a fully royal capital.
The city developed as an important focus of trade and has had a long history of siege and storm.
At different times it came under the Romans (a ruined fortress remains), Parthians, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, Persians, Georgians, and Russians.
In 1582 it fell to the Turks, in 1604 to the Persians, and finally in 1827 to the Russians.
After World War I, Yerevan became the capital of the First Republic of Armenia as thousands of survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire arrived in the area.
Yerevan has been the capital since 1918, the fourteenth in the history of Armenia and the seventh located in or around the Ararat plain.
The city expanded rapidly during the 20th century as Armenia became part of the Soviet Union.
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yerevan became the capital of the Republic of Armenia on 21 September 1991.
With the growth of the Armenian economy, Yerevan has undergone major transformation. Much construction has been done throughout the city since the early 2000s, and retail outlets such as restaurants, shops, and street cafés, which were rare during Soviet times, have multiplied.
Republic Square is the central town square in Yerevan. It consists of two sections: an oval roundabout and a trapezoid-shaped section which contains a pool with musical fountains. The square is surrounded by five major buildings built in pink and yellow tufa in the neoclassical style with extensive use of Armenian motifs. The square was originally designed by Alexander Tamanian in 1924. The construction of most of the buildings was completed by the 1950s; the last building—the National Gallery—was completed in 1977.
The Cascade is a giant stairway made of limestone. It links the downtown Kentron area of Yerevan with the Monument neighborhood. Designed by architects Jim Torosyan, Aslan Mkhitaryan, and Sargis Gurzadyan the construction of the cascade started in 1971 and was partially completed in 1980. Inside the Cascade, underneath the exterior steps, are seven escalators that rise along the length of the complex. There are also exhibit halls connected to some of the landings along the escalators which compose the Cafesjian Museum of Art.
Armenian National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet named after Alexander Spendiaryan in Yerevan was officially opened on 20 January 1933, with Alexander Spendiaryan’s Almast opera performance. The opera building was designed by the Armenian architect Alexander Tamanian. It consists of two concert halls: the Aram Khatchaturian concert hall with 1,400 seats and the Alexander Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet National Theatre with 1,200 seats.
The History Museum of Armenia is a museum in Armenia with departments of Archaeology, Numismatics, Ethnography, Modern History and Restoration. It has a national collection of 400,000 objects and was founded in 1920. It is regarded as Armenia’s national museum and is located on Republic Square.
The Matenadaran, officially the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, is a museum, repository of manuscripts, and a research institute in Yerevan. It is the world’s largest repository of Armenian manuscripts. It was established in 1959 on the basis of the nationalized collection of the Armenian Church. One of the most prominent landmarks of Yerevan, it is named after Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet, whose statue stands in front of the building.
The Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral also known as the Yerevan Cathedral is currently the largest cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the world. The church complex was designed by the architect Stepan Kurkchyan and the construction was completed in 2001. It is considered to be one of the largest religious buildings in the South Caucasus along with the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilis.
Mother Armenia is a female personification of Armenia. Her most public visual rendering is a monumental statue in Victory Park overlooking the capital city of Yerevan. The current statue replaces a monumental statue of General Secretary Joseph Stalin that was created as a victory memorial for World War II. The statue was considered a masterpiece of the sculptor Sergey Merkurov.
The Armenian Genocide memorial complex is Armenia’s official memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide, built in 1967 on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan. Every year on 24 April, the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, thousands of Armenians gather at the memorial to commemorate the victims of the genocide. The people who gather in Tsiternakaberd lay fresh flowers out of respect for all the people who died in the Armenian genocide. Over the years, from around the world, a wide range of politicians, artists, musician, athletes, and religious figures have visited the memorial.
Yerevan was named the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO.
The city serves as the seat of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese; the largest diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church and one of the oldest dioceses in the world.
One theory regarding the origin of Yerevan’s name is the city was named after the Armenian king, Yervand (Orontes) IV, the last leader of the Orontid Dynasty, and founder of the city of Yervandashat.
However, it is likely that the city’s name is derived from the Urartian military fortress of Erebuni, which was founded on the territory of modern-day Yerevan in 782 BC by Argishti I. As elements of the Urartian language blended with that of the Armenian one, the name eventually evolved into Yerevan.