One of the main attractions we had heard about in Yerevan was the Vernissage Market, a flea market full of everything you could possibly imagine. All of the goods there were handmade, being sold by the person who made them (or, in some cases, a family member). They had jewelry, carpets, bags, slippers, ceramics, wood carvings, metal sculptures, paintings, embroidered tablecloths, and so much more. There was also an entire section of antiques… and puppies…
If you plan to do Vernissage, give yourself AT LEAST a half day. Seriously. We said to ourselves, oh, we’ll just go and take a look, see what we find and we got lost in handicrafts for about 3 hours before we realized we were starving and dehydrated. So if you’re really into markets and such, give yourself the whole day. Otherwise, plan on a half day and get yourself out of there before you spend everything you have.
When we finally escaped, we found a nice restaurant by Republic Square that had a little water misting system on the edge to cool you off as you ate. We wanted to go to some of the museums but it was the day before a holiday so they closed early. They were also closed on Sunday, the holiday, and generally closed on Mondays, so uhh I guess that leaves Tuesday as our museum day?
We managed to squeeze in three sights on Tuesday: the National Gallery (the only museum I’ve ever been to that is not air-conditioned), Tsitsernakaberd (don’t worry, I can’t pronounce it either) – the Armenian genocide museum and memorial, and Etchmiadzin Cathedral – the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
It was a long day, and I recommend giving yourself more time for those sights than we did, at least for Tsitsernakaberd and Etchmiadzin. I was happy to rush through the National Gallery because there wasn’t anything in particular I wanted to see there. Although, I really enjoyed the contemporary exhibit as there were a lot of interesting pieces from children of survivors of the genocide, depicting the deep sadness and suffering of their ancestors.
Etchmiadzin can be given as much or as little time as you want, depending on how religious you are or how much you want to see there. But the Armenian genocide museum should be given several hours so you really have time to read everything, take it all in, and to spend time with the memorial structure itself (pictured below). I will write about that in another post, but you should definitely include the memorial in your visit if you ever travel to Yerevan. Again, I wasn’t crazy about the National Gallery (there are better museums out there) but Etchmiadzin is also definitely worth a visit.
We spent the rest of our time in Yerevan exploring the city, enjoying the sights, playing at the Cascade fountain, and eating and relaxing. We also took a day trip to see Garni Temple & Geghard Monastery which you can read about in my next post, “Tourists and Temples, and a bit of Parkour” !