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History of Yerevan

Yerevan has a long-long history of thousands of years, dating back to the rise of oldest civilizations in the world.

One theory regarding the origin of Yerevan's name is the city was named after the Armenian king, Yervand 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 (Էրեբունի), 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 (Erebuni = Erevani = Erevan = Yerevan).

Early Christian Armenian chroniclers attributed the origin of the name, "Yerevan," to a derivation from an expression exclaimed by Noah, in Armenian. While looking in the direction of Yerevan, after the ark had landed on Mount Ararat and the flood waters had receded, Noah is believed to have exclaimed, "Yerevats!" ("it appeared!").

Yerevan History Museum

 

Address:
1/1 Argishti str.
Phone:
(374 10) 568185
Website: www.yhm.am

 

In Armenian manuscripts, Yerevan was also mentioned as Erevan, Erivan, Erewan, Ervan, Eruan, Arevan, Iravan, Revan and Ayravan.

However, the predominant former names of the city are Erebuni and Erevan.

The principal symbol of Yerevan is Mount Ararat, which is visible from any area in the capital. The seal of the city is a crowned lion on a pedestal with the inscription "Yerevan." The lion's head is turned backwards while it holds a scepter using the right front leg, the attribute of power and royalty. The symbol of eternity is on the breast of the lion with the image of Ararat in the upper part. The emblem is a rectangular shield with a blue border


Astafyan street

An illustration of Yerevan by French traveller Jean Chardin in 1673

A cuneiform inscription left by King Argishti I of Urartu about the foundation of the city in 782 BC

Main Square in 1916

The territory of Yerevan was settled by humans since the 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 (Էրեբունի) 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. Between 1850 and 1860, 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. 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 21th September 1991.

 

Over the past years, Yerevan transformed vividly and rapidly. Renowned for its cultural activites, 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.