Jenni and I started talking on twitter in the realms of our respective rotation curation of the @i_amGermany account. Her blog on museums, Museum Diary, is insightful and thorough and a true joy to read. You should also follow her on twitter @jennifuchs. Thank you so much, Jenni, for writing for me about Armenia – a country I personally cannot wait to visit!
Hello, my name is Jenni, and I write a blog all about museums. Many thanks to Mariella for asking me to guest post here. I want to share with you my favourite museums in Armenia, a country I had the privilege of visiting for the first time last year.
The Yerevan “Cascade”
The Yerevan “Cascade”, as it is known, is part of the Cafesjian Center for the Arts. It is the most impressive sculpture park I have every come across, and it’s easy to see where it gets its nickname from – set against a staircase with 570 steps and a 15 degree incline, a series of plateaus and fountains seem to literally cascade down the hillside, continuing into a park at the foot of the staircase. If all those steps are too much for you, there also escalators inside that will take you most of the way to the top. And it’s worth it – the views of the city are fantastic!
Located in central Yerevan near the “Cascade”, “Matenadaran” means “depository of ancient manuscripts” in Armenian and is home to one of the world’s richest collection of medieval manuscripts and books. The subjects span a broad range,both in Armenian as well as in many other languages. The displays include not only many precious books, but also maps and calendars, as also some displays on the restoration of books, and on the plants and minerals used to create inks and paints used in the illumination of manuscripts.
Although it covers a rather grim episode of 20th century history, to gain an understanding of Armenia and its people the Armenian Genocide museum is not to be missed. The museum opened in 1995 to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Remembrance Day for all victims of the Genocide, and stands alongside the Armenian Genocide Memorial which overlooks the city of Yerevan. Be prepared for an emotional visit.
Echmiadzin is located in Armavir Province in Central Armenia, about 20km from Yerevan, and is home to Echmiadzin Cathedral, the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the worldwide Armenian Apostolic Church. The cathedral, dating back to the 4th century AD, is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world and worth a visit itself. Right next door to it is the Treasury Museum, which displays rare and precious treasures of the Armenian Apostolic Church throughout history. One of the highlights of the collection is an alleged piece of Noah’s Ark (though sadly this was on loan elsewhere when I visited).
Another beautiful cathedral I was introduced to, this time from the 7th century, was sadly destroyed by an earthquake, but it’s ruins were discovered and excavated in the early 20th century. The Zvarnots Historical and Cultural Museum Reserve tells its story. As well as visiting the ruins themselves, you will find out about the architecture and construction techniques of the cathedral, its artistic decorations, and its excavation and reconstruction (on a model scale). There’s also a small display about Armenian architectural history and influences across the country.
To find out more about these and other museums in Armenia, as well as museums in the rest of the world, please feel free to check out my blog, Museum Diary.