February 2, 2008
Though the Turkey-Armenia border is closed, flights from Istanbul to Yerevan and vice versa are available each week. Charter flights are operated with planes from the Armenian state-led airline company Armavia Airlines and private Turkish airline Atlas Jet . .
Despite the land border between Turkey and Armenia being closed, regular weekly flights take place between Istanbul and Yerevan, Armenia's capital.
Flights between the two cities started immediately after the Republic of Armenia won its independence in 1995. After the closure of Armenia's former state airlines Armenian Airlines in 2000, Armavia Airlines, again led by state, started to function in the same year. In 2003, Armenian origins Turkish national Dikran Altun, owner of Tower Aviation and Travel Company, officially applied to the Turkish Directorate General of Civil Aviation in order to operate scheduled flights between Istanbul and Yerevan and obtained the necessary permission. Initial flights that were organized by Altun's company took place thanks to planes chartered from private Turkish airline Fly Air. Altun said Armenian people welcomed the very first flight to Yerevan with excitement. “We landed in Armenia in a plane that carried the Turkish flag. The plane was full of Turkish journalists and businessmen,” said Altun, noting representatives from Directorate General of Civil Aviation of Armenia welcomed them at the airport. There are three weekly flights between Istanbul and Yerevan. Altun said all flights to Yerevan are full. As to the passenger profile, Altun said that Turkish businessmen made up the majority of travelers. Also flights between the resort town of Antalya and Yerevan take place between June and September every year. A total of 3,500 Armenian businessmen traveled to Antalya on holiday last year, Altun said, adding they plan to increase the number of flights next season.
Armenia and Turkey, two sides of the bridge
Altun said his first visit to Armenia was after he received an invitation from Telman Der Bedrosyan, brother of Armenia's first president, Levon Der Bedrosyan. In his first visit to Armenia, Der Bedrosyan took Altun to the Markara Village of Yerevan. “In the past, the Turkey-Armenia border was in Markara. There used to be a bridge over the Aras River at that time. Once, while walking on that bridge, I stopped at the mid point and looked at both sides. One side of the bridge was Armenia and the other side was Turkey,” Altun said. “I cried unreasonably but unconditionally that day, I do not know why,” he said, describing his love for both countries with the following words: “I feel like a man who is in love with two women. I just cannot give up either of them.” The idea of starting flights between Istanbul and Yerevan came to Altun's mind after that first visit to Armenia.
Turkish Businessmen In Yerevan
After flights with planes chartered from Fly Air were met with great interest, they undertook the task of flying Armavia Airlines' passengers to Istanbul, Altun said. Finally, they started operating charter flights with planes from Atlas Jet. Altun, noting that about 20,000 Armenians from Armenia live within Turkey's borders and have commercial activities there, said that many Turkish businessmen also make significant investments in Yerevan. “There are no diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia and there is the reality of an embargo imposed on Armenia. Lower level Turkish bureaucracy supports the embargo while upper level Turkish bureaucracy wants the embargo to remain at minimum levels, said Altun, adding that flights between Istanbul and Yerevan started thanks to the warm attitude displayed by upper level Turkish bureaucracy. Altun said President Der Berdosyan used to have a warm attitude toward Turkey during the 1990s and if Turkey had responded to that, many problems between the two countries would have already been overcome.
Peace And Friendship Concert In Yerevan
Altun, believing that cultural relations are highly important, said he, with his own financial resources, invited a 100-member A Capella choir and a dance ensemble from Armenia to Turkey during the days when the French parliament was discussing the “genocide” bill. Altun said, though some problems occurred, he managed to obtain the necessary permission from the Turkish Foreign Ministry for the concert that was held in Istanbul. He said the message of peace that was sent to the world with that concert was highly important. Altun, arguing Western countries politically manipulate the Armenian question, said problems between the two peoples can only be overcome through dialogue. Altun will organize a second peace concert by Turkish artists in Armenia soon.
Vercihan Ziflioglu, TDN
Yerevan is a leading industrial, cultural, and scientific centre in the Caucasus region. It is also at the heart of an extensive rail network and is a major trading centre for agricultural products. In addition, industries in the city produce metals, machine tools, electrical equipment, chemicals, textiles, and food products.
|Educational and cultural facilities in Yerevan include universities, the Armenian Academy of Sciences, a state museum, and several libraries. The largest repository of Armenian manuscripts, and indeed one of the biggest repositories of manuscripts in the world, is the Matenadaran. Zvartnots International Airport serves Yerevan. |
The layout of Yerevan was designed by Alexander Tamanyan in the 1920's, and has grown way beyond his projections of a couple of hundred thousand residents. The center however remains pretty close to what he envisioned, with a grid pattern of streets intersected by some sircular roads and a lot of parks. Virtually all hotels, museums, government offices, clubs and the like are in the very center (see map below), which can be walked across in 20 minutes - making Yerevan an extremely walkable city, except for the drivers.
Along with the Northern Avenue which is under construction, some of the hipper streets are Abovian St., Tumanian St., Sayat Nova, Terian St. Mashtots Ave., and Amiryan St.
For those that live outside of the small center, public transport is cheap and easy, with Marshutnis (fixed route vans) bringing people to the center from all over, and the not-so-extensive metro also serving parts of Yerevan. Most of the cities popular shukas (bazaars) are outside of the center - such as the Hrazdan, Bangladesh and GUM shukas.
|For locals in Yerevan - who like the rest of the republic have seen a sharp drop in living standards since the collapse of the USSR, the problem is not so much unemployment (as is the case in other parts of Armenia) as it is simply underpay and underemployment. People are working, but in jobs well below their capacity and/or for what most would not consider a living wage. Like much of the rest of Armenia, people depend to a great extent on remittances - money sent back home by relatives - and on foreign aid from governments and the Armenian Diaspora.|
|Archeological evidence indicates that a military fortress called Erebuni stood on Yerevan's site as far back as the 8th century BC. Since then the site has been strategically important as a crossroads for the caravan routes passing between Europe and India. It has been called Yerevan since at least the 7th century A.D., when it was the capital of Armenia under Persian rule. |
Due to its strategic significance, Yerevan was constantly fought over and it passed back and forth between the dominion of Persia and the Ottomans for centuries. In 1827 it was taken by Russia and formally ceded by the Persians in 1828. After the 1917 Russian revolution it enjoyed three years as the capital of independent Armenia, and in 1920 became the capital of the newly formed Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, a territory of the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Yerevan became the capital of the independent Republic of Armenia in 1991.
Armenia was for most of its history a rural society, with few cities of its own. The modern city of Yerevan was built on tragedy and dreams. Little more than a garrison town of mud-brick and gardens before its first brief experience as capital of an independent Armenia in 1918, the city burgeoned under Soviet rule. The flood of refugees from the 1915 holocaust and its aftermath fueled an uneasy but productive alliance between Armenian nationalism and Soviet hopes of spreading the Communist gospel through the Armenian Diaspora. Modern Yerevan was built, deliberately, to be the universal center and pole of attraction for the diaspora, with an educational and cultural infrastructure far out of proportion to the size or intrinsic wealth of Soviet Armenia.
In 1988, when the collapse of the Soviet Union became visible, Yerevan was a full-fledged, booming Soviet city of over 1 million people. A gracious street plan of parks, ring-roads, and tree-lined avenues had been laid out by the architect Alexander Tamanyan and his successors in the 1920s and 1930s for a population they dreamed might reach 200,000. That goal long surpassed, the process of expansion to reach the magic million-person threshold that qualified Yerevan for a metro and the other perquisites of a city of all-Union importance involved Armenia's successive First Secretaries in sordid expedients and half-finished, earthquake-vulnerable construction projects in sprawled, depressing suburbs.
The city of Yerevan preserves little of its early history in a form of interest to casual visitors. Behind the anonymous Soviet facades, however, a rich and complex life took place and still does, in the "bak" or courtyard or in private apartments far better furnished -- with books, musical instruments, art, and hospitality -- than 70 years of official culture or a decade of grim poverty would suggest.
- Hotel Armenia
- Hotel Yerevan
Yerevan has a decidedly continental climate. Though it is at the same latitude as warm Mediterranean countries like Portugal, the 1km elevation and the distance from the sea means that the summers are very hot, the winters very cold, and the humidity very low year round.
|Tourist attractions: |
- Monuments and buildings.
- Night life
- Restaurants and Cafes
- Victory Bridge
- Abovyan Street
- Northern Blvd
- Gold Market
- Amusement parks
- Hrazdan Gorge