Forgotten Sides of Yerevan Part 1
Exploring a side of Yerevan that most people do not realize exists is always something special for me. When visiting a new city most tourists usually only rush to the main sites. For example, in Rome the Colosseum, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Piazza Spagna, and a list of others I might have forgotten. In the case of Yerevan this would-be Republic Square, Cascade, Tsitsernakaberd and the Armenian Genocide Museum, the Opera and Swan Lake, Northern Avenue, the Blue Mosque, Zoravor S. Astvatsatsin Church, and Victory Park where the statue of Mother Armenia resides. I remember when I first came here as a tourist in May 2017 before moving to Yerevan and officially calling it my new home that these were also the only places I visited within the city during my one week stay. However, there is another side to this interesting and eclectic city, a forgotten side that many people do not ever think of venturing to, a side of Yerevan where you will see no tourists only normal local people living their lives like in any other city.
On December 23rd, we decided to do something a little different for our Saturday by taking the metro to Sasuntsi David stop and checking out the surrounding areas. The day was already late and we had only a few hours until the light would fade into the night. It was not very cold, actually much warmer that previous days and with some fog and clouds lingering making for a moody feel I believe enhanced the experience venturing into this unknown side of the city. The journey began at the historical South Caucasus Railway terminal. The first railway line was built connecting Yerevan with Gyumri and Tbilisi in 1902 and in 1908 a second line to connect with Julfa, Persia. In 1956 the main station building was built that is shown in the photos below. Today the South Caucasus Railway operates between Yerevan to Tbilisi, Gyumri, Ararat, Araks, Yeraskh, and Shorzha. Walking in this section of the city I began to feel the distant past which still lingers in the neighborhoods we walked through. I could picture old trains arriving at the platforms taking locals to destinations for holidays or to see family. Today the train station feels almost like a distant memory from the past even though it still operates daily. I sensed the feeling of hardship and you can see it on many local people’s faces in this section of the city. Maybe it was the weather that day but the feeling of a hard yet simple life is there. The most beautiful thing about seeing another side of the city was acknowledging that Yerevan is still developing and will one day be a gem in the South Caucasus not only a popular tourist destination. Most people only see the touristic sides of a city they travel to, with music filling the streets, bright lights, and crowds of people laughing and being careless. However, I recommend take one day off from this chaos and venture into an unknown world, be smart and practical yet adventurous and have an open heart and mind and those new experiences you obtain will be ones no one else has. To truly understand any city, I believe you also need to see the lesser known areas to get a sense of what the people, and culture are really like and you will usually be surprised in what you might discover.