On the way to work I stopped by the tiny convenience store at 5 Abovyan Street that sells "khachabouri" and other pastries as well as cigarettes, soft drinks, and other things. The store resides by the city's standards in an ancient building dating back to the late 1800s, making it probably the oldest standing intact building in central Yerevan.
As explained to me by one of the store's managers, much if not all of smaller central Yerevan, in other words former Old Yerevan including the area stretching from Mashdots Street east towards Khanjian Street, was occupied by Turks. In fact, this building she works and resides in was built on top of a Turkish cemetery. When they were demolishing the building just next door to make way for the monstrous "Star Time" disco complex they discovered underneath the foundation that people were buried sitting down, as apparently was the Turkish custom (although I cannot verify this).
It may not be the most aesthetically pleasing or safe building in Yerevan it seems solid enough nevertheless. Sturdy enough to support a store which occupies a small, narrow portion of the two-floor building's ground level. It is situated in between two ugly six story buildings both housing discos and expensive boutiques as well as offering hotel rooms. But the ancient building that remains, until the beginning of March, is a testament to Yerevan's history, its development from basically village status to a city of about 1,000,000 residents. It is of course another piece of the past that needs to be preserved at all costs and also is part of the city's disappearing charm, yet greedy developers fail to understand this. Basically this structure must be given landmark status, and should be preserved and repaired. All international cities keep and restore very old buildings, especially structures with an over 100 year-old history. Furthermore, ancient landmarks, especially in city centers, attract tourism.
The store's owners and building occupants are taking their case to Strasbourg, as no court in Armenia will defend anyone's right to live where they wish to remain. The woman said that they will end up in the middle of a field somewhere outside the city, as they won't be able to afford anything else with the measly compensation the government supposedly will provide.
There is no justification for raising historical buildings--it doesn't matter what state they may be in. They can be repaired and restored, especially those made from simple brick and mortar like this one.
More details about the building occupants' plight can be read on Hetq Online.
Labels: Personal Experiences, Social and Cultural