Yerevan: an ancient city without the Old City. Why is there no any old building preserved in a three thousand-year-old city?
While walking or driving through the main streets and avenues of Yerevan the first eye catching thing is tuff. It seems that this unique stone with its hundreds of shades of grey and pink has been created especially for Yerevan to create a typical atmosphere admirable for the visitors. During the early years there was a meticulously planned manner to the formation of each building in Yerevan. Slightly structured and designed stones around windows and doors of buildings stand as a bright evidence to that... However we are not able to see that in nowadays Yerevan. To the city’s guests question: How could we get to the old part of the city? The answer is a long silence. While the picture is not the same in Tbilisi, Baku and in many other European cities.
It is an obvious fact that Yerevan is an ancient city and the famous saying ‘29 years older than Rome’ is not accidental. The area has been inhabited by people in the Stone Age ( settlements of that age have been excavated in the caves of Hrazdan) . While the official date of the city’s age is considered to encounter from the foundation of Erebuni Fortress, which has been named as one of 9 ancient fortresses in the world by Forbes in 2012.
There rises an assumption that today's Yerevan has been formated from the gradual expansion of inhabitants around Erebuni Fortress, while it is not true. Nowadays Yerevan is the union of several ancient districts (Hrazdan, Avan, Old Nork, Kond, etc.) which are trying to maintain their typical atmasphere.
The reality stands for the fact that practically the remaining old buildings in Yerevan are getting fewer and fewer day by day. Long posters depicting “More Prosperous Yerevan” are closing a number of areas under construction. By reconstructing the ancient streets of Yerevan, all the antiquity of the city vanishes erasing the ancient art of centuries. For making the face of the city modern the authorities of the city came out to replace the old buildings of unique architecture with new attractive buildings. Whether the same type of high buildings are attractive is a matter of discussion. While the vivid and more actual question is that the creation of prosperous Yerevan in the same place of the antique Yerevan is a way far from the logic.
To restore and maintain the anticity is more laborious and difficult than to ruin and build a new one. Consequently it is easy to understand the residents of the city. They accuse the authorities in indifference and negligence towards their own home city and arrange demonstrations in an attempt to convey their voice to the authorities of the city.
Although the authorities of Yerevan stated the fact that all the historical buildings are under a special security, the demolition is still actual. A number of buildings considered to be visiting cards of the city have been destroyed. The famous tendency ‘facadism’ became more actual in Yerevan. Buildings often fully destroyed save only the front part of it, the facade, and serve as a fundament to the new construction of a quite different style. The vivid example is the house of Gabriel Gabrielyants on Amiryan street:
The tendency is unbearable for not only the residents of the city, but for a number of architects and historians believing that each building is a living creature with a complicated organism and soul. Coming back to the authorities they state the plan of creating the Old City by reconstructing all the remaining architectural antiquities in the streets Abovyan, Buzand, Koghbatsi, Aram, Teryan. The construction is in process and will last at least two years. However the ‘collection of skeletons’ in a new place discloses the idea recreation and the result will have the bright representing face of Yerevan is a matter of doubts.
“I lived in a neighborhood with Nerses Hovhannisyan. Parajanov rent an apartment at this building while directing his movie “Sayat-Nova”, Rudolf Khachatryan lived here… Overall this building was a real and exception combination of souls and depiction of culture. Now I look at those buildings empty with souls… we should value what we have. From where the homeland comes? From the very first road, stone – predictably evident proves of our city…” said a famous sculptor Levon Tokmajyan about his native Buzand Street.
Indeed, the culture and history of the Armenian people are not confined to people and ancient temples only, but also to urban buildings, street corners, courtyard landscapes.
The answer to the question why we are not able practically admire and feel the ancient Yerevan lies in the simple privately financial ‘solutions’ given by a few representatives of ‘rich’ level. As a result of the policy nowadays city’s atmosphere form a number of meaningless buildings having no architectural connection.
"Before and after" photos - https://transparency.am/hy/assets/monuments