EREBUNI FORTRESS AND MUSEUM Erebuni fortress was built on top of a hill as a strategic military center and a royal residence in 782 BC. That hill, Arin Berd, overlooks the Araks River Valley. The Erebuni fortress was explored only after the first half of the 20th century. Only in 1950 during the Arin Berd excavations, an inscription of Argishti the First was found. Expeditions proved it to be a part of the Erebuni Fortress. This unique architectural complex is a palace with religious and economic structures located on three sides of the central square. The temple of God Haldie is situated on the left, the economic structures with storehouses are on the right, and the palace complex with pillar courtyard is in the front part of the entrance. Thick fortifications surround the citadel forming three rows at the entrance. The wonderful paintings representing the cult and secular life, with scenes of hunting and farming, as well as geometrical and vegetable ornaments adorn the walls. Now a museum has been built showing the items unearthed during the excavations. The items include ceramics, potter’s wheels, a huge collection of artifacts, jars, bronze bracelets, glass, agate beads used in everyday life of ancient man. Erebuni Museum of the History of Yerevan city foundation was built in 1968 as a present for the 2750th anniversary of the foundation of Yerevan. ARARAT BRANDY FACTORY The legendary Armenian land has a long history behind of making wine of really delicate taste. According to a well known legend Noah planted the first vine in the fertile Ararat valley. After that people tasted the first wine, and thus the production began and spread throughout the country. The fact that the oldest in the world winery was unearthed in the Armenian village of Areni, proves that the roots of wine making culture existed from times immemorial. Armenia has even better known traditions of brandy production. Armenian brandy is a wonderful present for honorable guests be it a statesman, a businessman, a man of culture or an ordinary man. The history of the brandy factory dates back to 1877, when a merchant named Nerses Tairiants constructed the first factory on the site of the former Yerevan fortress. The factory then was equipped with two distillers. He imported the French technology into the production. In 1899 he sold his factory to Shustov & Sons, a Russian commercial industrial company. The latter spread the fame of Armenian brandy outside the borders of Armenia. In a century the factory became a part of Pernod Ricard Group. Though the factory had different owners during different times, the technology of distillation, aging, blending and bottling remains the same for decades. Brandy making process is an entire ritual requiring great accuracy and patience. Ararat factory does its best to meet the needs of all demanding tastes by their accurate and patient work adding great love to it. Now the factory is eager to show their fortune to all those who are interested in wine and brandy production. During the one and a half hour excursion in the factory visitors can get acquainted with the aging workshop, museum, video hall, bar to taste and feel every nuance of the magical beverage, and finally the store where you can buy a bottle close to your taste and take a part of Armenia with you to your own country with a hope to come back again, this time not as a guest, but as an old and expected friend. OPERA HOUSE AND BALLET THEATRE The Armenian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, named after Alexander Spendarian is built in a classic style. The beautiful round construction is situated in the center of the city. The entrance of the Opera House has a noble and solemn look partially due to the column decorations and partially due to the huge space. The building was designed by Alexander Tamanyan who was the chief architect of the capital city. His ideal and unique ideas have given a special look to our city. The Armenian National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre was officially opened on 20 January 1933. The opening of the theatre promoted the creation of new opera and ballet performances. The first Armenian ballet to be on stage was "Happiness" by Aram Khachatryan; soon it was followed by Gayane. Since then the opera Gayane has been performed all over the world. Since 1935 Armenian opera "Anoush" by Armen Tigranyan has been performed. It was a great step of Armenian opera history, and is still to be the inspiration till now. This theatre has hosted world-famous Armenian and foreign opera singers. Statues of the great representatives of Armenian culture surround this circular building. The statue to Aram Khachatryan, the great Armenian composer whose works are famous all over the world, is located in front of Big Concert Hall after himself (the other side of Opera Theatre). The statue to Arno Babajanyan, a talented modern composer, can be seen near the Lake Swan, just a few walks from the Opera House. All of the statues are interesting and unique in their types. All of them seem to be living; they all seem to be full of spirit and energy. THE HISTORY MUSEUM OF ARMENIA The History Museum of Armenia was founded in 1919 as Ethnographic-Anthropological Museum-Library. The museum is dedicated to one of the oldest Civilisations in the world. The museum houses more than 400 000 archeological, ethnographic and numismatic items, such as collections of documents, photos and paintings. Guns of primitive man, weapons and utensils, jewelry and handicrafts since Urartian times till the present day are among them. All of the items cover the whole history of Armenians beginning from primeval times to present day. Of special interest is the extensive library consisting of about 50 000 volumes with the first printed book called Urbatagirk. The book was printed in 1512 in Venice. Besides the primary exhibition the museum also organizes different temporary exhibitions, showing interesting facts from the history of ancient as well as modern Armenia. The museum also organizes special courses for children, where the children enrich their knowledge about their country and its history. THE CASCADE MONUMENT – HUGE STAIRCASE The Cascade Monument can be treated as a kind of splendid architectural solution linking the city center with the vast green gardens. It is the best link that the main architect of the capital Yerevan Alexander Tamanyan could have ever created as a juncture between two parts of the city. The whole complex itself is a huge marvelous staircase built on a rock. The Cascade Monument is situated not far from the Opera House. It designates the 2780 anniversary of the capital city. If you walk up the “huge staircase” of 500 meters height and 50 meters width, you can enjoy the wonderful panorama of the city with the spectacular Opera House, Mount Ararat as well as the view to the whole city. The deliberately lined trees and the beautifully decorated flowers give a special look to the monument. Visitors of the Cascade Museum are often unaware that the construction has escalators to lift people up to the top. After reaching the top and enjoying the scenic view, you can walk a bit to a vast green Victory Park with an artificial lake and numerous attractions. Here you can also find the 50 meter tall monument “Mayr Hayastan” (Mother Armenia), which guards Yerevan from above. Inside the pedestal you can see The Mother Armenia Museum of the Ministry of Defense. The largest part of the exhibition space is devoted to the Nagorno-Karabakh war of the 1980-1990. Before going up the Cascade Monument, just at the bottom, you must pay attention to a statue of the great architect Alexander Tamanyan leaning on his projects. The Cascade Monument is among the must see places in Yerevan. TSITSERNAGAPERT – ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MEMORIAL & MUSEUM Tsitsernakaberd memorial was built in 1966 dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. The monument was erected on one of the three hills called Tsitsernakaberd, along the River Hrazdan. The name itself means “Swallow’s fortress.” The monument includes a high pillar of 44 m with twelve lower slabs positioned in a circle. The high narrowing pillar represents the national rebirth of Armenians. And the twelve lower ones represent the twelve Armenian provinces that are today in the territory of Turkey. Within the twelve slabs the eternal fire is burning. According to other versions of the interpretation of the meaning the two parts symbolize the Eastern and Western parts of Armenia. Others claim that the monument represents Ararat Mountain, Great and Little one, which is again in the territory of the present day Turkey. In the territory of the memorial park the Genocide Museum has been built to commemorate the historical tragic event. The three main exhibit halls and the outer gallery with its own hall exhibit the museum artifacts and scientific objects in over 1000 square meters in size territory. The museum contains historic documents, photos and film storage witnessing the horrific events. Both the museum, the memorial statue and the whole park itself was built in memory of the one and a half million innocent victims who were massacred in 1915. The consciousness about this should prevent future generations from the events alike, as those who forget the history are condemned to repeat it. MADENATARAN – THE DEPOSITORY OF ANCIENT MANUSCRIPTS Armenian people have always treated their culture with great cautiousness. Even during wars and the great Armenian tragedy, genocide, people have been first protected the ancient Armenian valuable manuscripts even if it cost their life in the process of spiritual conquest and assimilation. An innumerable number of the manuscripts have been lost as a result of invasions and robbery. These manuscripts are paid a special attention to till our days. For that purpose in 1957 a State Repository of ancient manuscripts, called Matenadaran, was built. Hardly any visitor can ever leave the country without seeing those old and sacred books that have survived through many centuries full of disasters. Thus, Matenadaran is a must see place in Armenia.Just at the entrance you can get acquainted with ancient philosophers, scientists and people of arts: Toros Roslin, Grigor Tatevatsi, Anania Shirakatsi, Movses Khorenatsi, Mkhitar Gosh and Frik, and finally the statue of the first Armenian teacher and the creator of the Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots. Matenadaran means “manuscript store”, or “library” in ancient Armenian. The institution is a major center for study and preservation of Armenian works of ancient literature. Matenadaran now protects about 16477 surviving materials and around 300,000 archive documents, among them about 2500 fragments collected in the depository. The manuscripts include almost all of the areas of ancient and medieval Armenian culture and sciences - history, geography, grammar, philosophy, law, medicine, mathematics, cosmography, theory of calendar, alchemy, chemistry, translations, literature, chronology, art history, miniature, music and theatre, as well as manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Greek, Latin, Ethiopian, Indian, Japanese and others. The building guards the most ancient parchment book that is the Gospel of Lazarus written in 887. Visitors can also see the biggest and the heaviest Armenian manuscript, weighing 34 kilograms. Matenadaran is probably one of the rare museums in the world illustrating manuscripts.