Yerevan: English Park

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Yerevan Walking Tour: “English” ('Theatre') and Kaghakayin (Shahumian) Parks

Yerevan Walking Tour: “English” ('Theatre') and Kaghakayin (Shahumian) Parks

This boulevard park was once part of Kaghaqayin (Town) Park in old Yerevan, lined on the opposite side by Abovian (old Astafian) Street. The main route through Yerevan, the street was also the most fashionable of the city, a place of commerce and gracious living with luxurious mansions and hotels.

Originally called “Berdi Poghots” (“Fortress Street”), Abovian Street, opened in the 1860s. It began at the old fortress and led through town to Nork, at that time a village on the northern hills. The street was renamed Astafian after Yerevan Governor General, Russian Major-General Astafiev (1864-1869). In 1906 the city's first horse-drawn trolley line was installed along Astafian, and in the 20th century it became Yerevan's most important throughway.

Among Astafiev's designs was English Park, flanked by modern Movses Khorenatsi and Grigor Lusavorich streets. This park, where you are now, already existed when the 1856 city plan was made. Now divided by two streets, the park is bordered on the south by the imposing monument to Alexander Miasnikian (6) (sculptor Ara Shiraz, architect J. Torosian). Miasnikian became Commissar of Armenia in 1921.

Just to the south are the French Embassy (7) and Sundukian National Theatre (8) (architects R. Alaverdian, S. Bourkhajian, G. Mnatsakanian), with a Theatre Park (9) boasting two statues; “Pepo” erected in honor of a character in the comedy of the same name by Gabriel Sundukian (1825-1912), considered the father of Armenian realistic drama, and a bust of the author himself (sculptor A. Harutyunian).

The Sundukian hosted some of the most gifted actors in Western Theatre, performing classical and modern repertoire. The theatre opened on January 25, 1922 with the comedy “Pepo”. The play was so popular it ran for more than a thousand performances.

Just above is the Italian Embassy (10) and in front the Tonino Guerra Rose Garden (11), planned to feature fountains. Beyond is the Children's Park (12), with a statue to the aviator Nelson Stepanian (13), twice a hero of the Great Patriotic War (WW II).

At the east end of the park is the small Yerevan Water Boy statue (14) and a large plaza, in front of which stands the enormous Monument to Stepan Shahumian (15), which anchors the next park – Shahumian Park, featuring a block-long Fountain (16) with 2750 fountainheads, one for each year of Yerevan's history until 1968, when the city celebrated its founding by the Urartian King Argishti I (in 782 BCE). An excavation in the city in Shengavit district is dated ca. 4000-2000 BCE, making Yerevan one of the oldest cities on earth.

Original text edited by the International Council on Monuments and Sites-Armenian National Committee (ICOMOS/Armenia).