1. The tour follows Old Abovian (or Astafian) Street and begins at the Hrazdan River Gorge, just below the Wine Factory. The Street originally led from here through the center of the city on to Nork. There are a few stone houses that line the gorge relics from the 19th century city. At the river are the remains of the 1679 Karmir Bridge, once the only link across the Hrazdan River to Echmiadzin.
2. The Yerevan Wine Factory (ca. 1930), built in a Black Tuff Fortress style, actually encloses a central courtyard with a fountain. The factory gives tours, including wine tasting and visits to the underground wine cellars, vaulted in the medieval style.
The street widens here and divides into two streets: the left is Italian Street, where the Italian Embassy and the Congress hotel are. The left street is Vazgen Sarkisian (Abovian) St.
3. Follow Isakova Street to the Alexander Miasnikian Statue at Grigor Lusavorich Avenue. There are a few stone facades remaining to remind you of the elegant shops and homes that made up this thriving commercial center at the turn of the century.
4. Alexander Miasnikian Statue. An imposing monument to a Bolshevik hero, the statue is one of the few remaining from the Communist period. Yerevan citizens are divided between demolishing the remnants of the Communist period and preserving them as reminders of what they must never again allow.
5. Behind the Miasnikian monument is a rose garden with fountains. On the left is the Children's Park. Old Abovian followed current Sarkisian Street, and had shops lining both sides of the throughway.
6. The Yerevan Water Boy Statue. One of the most endearing symbols of Old Yerevan, water boys used to walk along the streets of the old city with clay jugs slung over their shoulders, offering their water like repeated stanzas from an old song. No longer a part of the city's life, they are still remembered through the knife sharpeners, fruit vendors and matsun sellers that move through the courtyards of Yerevan calling out their wares.
7. Memorial to Stepan Shahumian. An Armenian guerilla fighter and member of the Dashnak and the Bolshevik parties. Leader of the Baku commune in 1918, he was killed with Fioletovo and others. Considered a Soviet hero for the capture of and later martyrdom in Baku, Azeris' consider him a traitor, while Armenians are divided between love for his Dashnak roots to free Armenia from Turkish genocide and disdain for his Bolshevik views. The Central Bank (ArdShinBank) is on the right.
8. Behind the monument is a park with a large fountain with 2,750 fountain heads, one for each year of Yerevan's history up to 1968, the year it commemorates. Cafes on the fountain are a great respite and resting point.
9. On the left are the Musical Comedy Theater and Midland Armenia Bank (has an ATM).
10. Republic Square. The centerpiece of Tamanian's master plan for Yerevan, Republic Square is the center for ministry offices. It was once called Lenin Square, for a large statue of Vasili which now lies in several pieces in the courtyard of the History Museum. The pedestal for the statue has just been removed, and there are no plans to replace it. Tamanian's square includes five imposing structures, built between the 1920's and 1950's.
11. Location of Lenin Monument. Now a cross to commemorate the 1700th anniversary, the Lenin monument was dismantled and the gorgeous marble and red tuff base sold off illegally during the rampant days of the early 90s. The enormous statue lay in several pieces in the Central Museum courtyard until sold to un-claimed sources (some say a New York collector) in 1998. Many Native Armenians feel the monument should have been converted instead of dismantled, many foreign Armenians are glad to be rid of it.
12. The Central Post Office (1950) on the right holds a beautiful stained glass window behind the postal counter, a café, and limited postal service. Post boxes work, poste restante does not. You can still buy kitsch postcards at the counter and send them off for a 4 week jaunt. Unreliable.
13. The government building with the clock tower (1926-1940) was built under Tamanian's supervision. The building combines classical lines with Armenian details in the capitals and along the top frieze. The sheer mass of the building is lightened through brown and cream colored tuff stone.
14. Directly across the square are the History and Art Museums of Yerevan (1926-1950). The white facade and colonnade is a pure symmetrical design. The top level was later added to house the Art Museum collection, which includes Rembrandt, Titian and-- together with the Russian Art Museum by Cascade, form the second largest collection of 19th Century Russian Art in the world. The History Museum has an extensive collection of artifacts beginning from the Stone Age.
15. The other two buildings, though built in the 1950's look to be the same age as Tamanian's masterpieces. Highly decorated with Armenian detail, they are more imposing than Tamanian's expert use of line and décor.
16. Government Building. Bookstore on ground level, good selections, sky high prices. Wait to buy from street sellers in Vernisage. Ararat Restaurant was a favorite of Soviet artists and thinkers, and surprisingly affordable for tourists. Food and service indifferent, but it is a piece of history.
17. Hotel Armenia. 1950s monolith being refurbished by Marriott Corporation will never hide the ugly building that blights the square. Of the original plan, this building has nothing to do with Tamanian's design, substituting brutish Soviet bulk for Tamanian's deft use of balance.
18. Below Republic Square is a huge underground vault, built to house citizens and the government in case of nuclear attack. No one wants to say what is there now, but one plan includes opening the area to the Museum like the Louvre in Paris. Good luck.
19. In front of the Museum colonnade are three large fountains in a central pool. The fountain sprays and underwater lights change as music plays. Depending on the music, the effect is enchanting or hokey. In the summertime, young boys seek refuge from the searing heat and play in the fountain water. Photographers wait on the sidewalk in front of the fountains with a miniature Tour Eiffel and tropical plants as backdrops for those wanting a souvenir picture (500 AMD per picture).