Yerevan

380
yerevan-from-cascades

Dating back to the rise of the oldest civilizations in the world has a long history of thousands of years.

Starting with the origin of the name of the city, Yerevan is interpreted in various interesting ways.

One interpretation refers to Noah. According to it, when the Noah’s arklanded on biblicalMount Ararat after the Great Flood and as he came out of it, he looked in the direction of nowadays Yerevan and exclaimed ”Yerevats” which means ”It appeared”.

Another interpretation brought forth in 1893 refers to the Urartian settlement called “Eriani,” which was inhabited by “Eri” people. This assumption was later refused, because it turned out the Eri people lived in the region of Shirak.

The third interpretation refers to the 9th-6th centuries BC, when the Kingdom of Urartu was established, later collapsed in the 6th century BC. Excavations held in Arin-Berd (Blood Fortress) gave clearer notion of what the city name might imply. An inscription found in the lower parts of Arin Berd in 1879, which has been kept in Moscow History Museum since 1894, served as a trace for the scientists, which took them to the place from where it might have fallen down. The studies conducted over there revealed a fortress. 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. An inscription discovered in 1950 that reads ” By the greatness of the God Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, built this mighty stronghold and proclaimed it Erebuni for the glory of Biainili (Urartu) and to instill fear among the king’s enemies. Argishti says: The land was a desert, before the great works I accomplished upon it. By the greatness of Khaldi, Argishti, son of Menua, is a mighty king, king of Biainili, and ruler of Tushpa” proved the latter.

Further studies showed that the name Yerevan comes from Erebuni. Studies of Urartu have discovered that Urartian “b” sounds “v” in Armenian. In the course of time the name underwent changes and acquired the current way of being written and pronounced-Erebuni-Erevuni/Erevani-Erevan-Yerevan.

Another theory regarding the origin of Yerevan’s name is the city named after the Armenian king, Yervand IV, the last leader of the Orontid Dynasty, and founder of the city of Yervandashat etc.

The territory of Yerevan was settled by humans since 4th millennium BC, fortified settlements from the Bronze Age include Shengavit, Karmir Blur, Karmir Berd and Berdadzor. Archaeological evidence indicates that an Urartian military fortress called Erebuni, as already mentioned, was founded in 782 BC by the orders of King Argishtis I at the site of current-day Yerevan, to serve as a fort/citadel guarding against attacks from the north Caucasus, thus Yerevan is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Irrigation canals and an artificial reservoir were built on the territory of Yerevan during the height of Urartian power. The fortress of Teishebaini (Karmir Blur) was destroyed by the Scythians in 585 BC. Between the 6th and 4th centuries BC, Yerevan was one of the main centers of the Armenian satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. The timespan between 4th century BC and 3rd century AD is known as the Yerevan Dark Ages due to absence of historical data. The first church in Yerevan, the church of St. Peter and Paul was built in the 5th century (collapsed in 1931).

During the height of the Arab invasions, Yerevan was taken in 658 AD. Since then the site has been strategically important as a crossroads for the caravan routes passing between Europe and India. It has been called Yerevan since at least the 7th century A.D. Between the 9th and 11th centuries Yerevan was a safe part of the Armenian Bagratuni Kingdom, before being overrun by Seljuks. Yerevan was seized and pillaged by Tamerlane in 1387. The city became an administrative center of the Ilkhanate. Due to its strategic significance, Yerevan was constantly fought over and passed back and forth between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans for centuries. At the height of Turkish-Persian wars, the city changed hands 14 times between 1513 and 1737.

Yerevan was liberated by Russian troops during the second Russian-Persian war on 1 October 1827 and formally ceded by the Persians in 1828. The city started to grow economically and politically. Old buildings were torn down and new buildings of European style were erected.

Emperor Nicholas I visited Yerevan in 1837. The first general plan of the city was made in 1854. In 1850-1860s, the churches of St. Hripsime and St. Gayane were opened and the English Garden was built. The first printing house of Zacharia Gevorkian was opened in 1874 and the first theatre was built in 1879 near the church of St. Peter and Paul. Yerevan was connected via a railway line to Alexandropol, Tiflis and Julfa in 1902, in the same year the first public library was opened. A telephone line with 80 subscribers was put into operation in 1913. The October Revolution in 1917 put an end to the Russian Empire. On May 28, 1918, Yerevan became the capital of the independent First Republic of Armenia. On 29 November 1920 the Soviet regime was established in Armenia and Yerevan became the capital of the newly formed Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the 15 republics of the Soviet Union. The Soviet era transformed the city that was originally intended for a few thousand residents into a modern metropolis with over a million people, developed according to the prominent Armenian architect Alexander Tamanian’s design. Tamanian successfully incorporated national traditions with contemporary urban construction. Tamanian’s new radical-circular layout for the city was imposed over the existing old city – which led to the destruction of a large number of buildings of historic importance. Important churches, mosques, the Persian fortress, baths, bazaars and caravanserais were all demolished during the Soviet period. The city was transformed into a large industrial, cultural and scientific center; with over 200 important industrial enterprises. During the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1965, Yerevan was the center of a 24 hour mass anti-Soviet protest (the first such demonstration in the USSR) to demand recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Soviet authorities. In 1968 the city’s 2750- anniversary was celebrated and dedicated to that 2750 fountains were built in the republic square near nowadays Armenia Marriott Hotel. The city became one of the largest industrial and cultural centers of the Soviet Union. In 1981 the first stations of the Yerevan Metro opened.

Following the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Yerevan became the capital of the Independent Republic of Armenia on 21 September 1991.

Over the past years, Yerevan transformed vividly and rapidly. Renowned for its cultural activities, museums, theaters and nightlife, it has become a major tourist destination. Yerevan is the financial and business hub of the country, and is home to many international organizations.