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Posted by on Apr 2, 2015 | 0 comments

I Heart My City: Anna’s Yerevan

Anna Khachatryan is a native of Yerevan through and through.

When she moved to Geneva for a six-month stint in 2013, her appreciation for Armenia’s capital city only grew. “I love Yerevan because it is extremely hospitable,” Anna says. “It’s hard to find a city nowadays that is modern, but at the same time keeps its culture so well preserved.”

These days she shares her hometown pride with the world on the Wandelion website while maintaining her own blog, Streets of Yerevan, on the side. Here are a few of Anna’s favorite things about one of the oldest cities in the world.

Follow Anna’s story on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Yerevan Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is on a walk to the Yerevan Cascade, a giant stairway that links downtown with the upper neighborhoods of the city. When one goes up the stairs, a spectacular view of Mount Ararat and central Yerevan opens up.

The end of April until the end of October is the best time to visit my city because you can enjoy open-air cafés, meet interesting people, and walk all day long to discover Yerevan’s secrets.

The open-air Vernissage Market (Photograph by Ara Chahvekilian, Flickr)

The open-air Vernissage Market (Photograph by Ara Chahvekilian, Flickr)

You can see my city best from the Yerevan Cascade.

Locals know to skip smoke-filled restaurants and bars and check out nonsmoking ones instead. They’re limited in number, but this nonsmoking map can help you find your way to smoke-free scenes.

Vernissage, an open-air flea market near Republic Squareis the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. 

In the past, notable people like painter Martiros Saryan, singer Charles Aznavour, and composer Serj Tankian have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the History Museum of Armenia because you can learn about our national heritage in three hours by taking a guided tour that’s available in various languages.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to be careful if you’re riding a bicycle. Though there are marked bike paths in some parts of Yerevan, few drivers seem to be aware of bikers. Walking is my preferred mode of exploring the city, but if public transportation is more your style, take note that you pay at the end of the trip (when you’re getting off).

Sevan Lake (Photograph by sjmcdonough, Flickr)

Lake Sevan (Photograph by sjmcdonough, Flickr)

My city really knows how to celebrate each day because Armenians are known for their joie de vivre. The city is so full of life that sometimes one can wonder if the locals work at all. You can always see people in the cafés.

For a fancy night out, I go to Panorama.

Just outside my city, you can visit Lake Sevan, which is less than an hour’s drive northeast of Yerevan. Sevan is the largest lake in the Caucasus region and, at more than 6,000 feet above sea level, one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world.

Brioche is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and Proshyan Street is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the Wandelion blog.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go to anti-cafés (places that will let you bring in outside food and drinks and just chill), such as the Loft.

Hot air balloons ready for flight at SkyBall. (Photograph by azkid2dc, Flickr)

Hot-air balloons ready for flight at SkyBall (Photograph by azkid2dc, Flickr)

To escape the crowds, I go to English Park or take a morning walk in Boghossian Gardens.

Malkhas Jazz Club is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Argentine tango at Lazio Cafe-Bar.

SkyBall, an event centered around hot-air balloons, could only happen in my city.

In the spring you should head to Abovyan Street to see the apricot and peach trees in bloom.

In the summer you should experience the singing fountains at Republic Square in the heart of Yerevan. Late in the evening, the streams of water come to life in a colorful, synchronized “dance” that’s set to classical music.

The "singing fountain" at Republic Square (Photograph by ninastoessinger, Flickr)

The “singing fountain” at Republic Square (Photograph by ninastoessinger, Flickr)

In the fall you should take part in the festivities leading up to Yerevan’s birthday in October. In 2015, we’ll be celebrating year number 2,977. 

In the winter you should go skiing in the spa town of Tsaghkadzor, which is only 30 minutes away.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the holiday of Vardavar, which is celebrated 14 weeks after Easter and involves people throwing water on each other. Kids will love taking part in this ancient ritual—and taking a break from the baking heat. The Yerevan Zoo is also a winner.

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