Notes From Hairenik

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.

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4 Comments:
Anonymous Andre R Boulanger said...
If your building was part of an ancient complex or neighborhood, I would sympathize with you.
But, you tell us that it stands between two large modern buildings that have shops and discotheques. It is all by itself as far as a testimony of history.
In such a case, I think it is time to let go.
Opposition to the distruction should have taken place when the old neighborhood was still intact. Now, it is too late.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Well you're making my point. The entire city's center is historical. Many buildings on Abovyan Street have already been raised, while thankfully a few temporarily remain. One case in point is the building on the left just before entering Republic Square housing Armo Group shoes and the French restaurant. Another large four-story building made of black tufa dating back to early communist times or maybe before--we'll never know for sure now--was neeedlessly taken down to make way for to-be-constructed buildings on the Northern Boulevard--however, just from my observations walking by the building before it was destroyed its location really did not stand in the way of new construction, and new structures could have been built around it.

In any case, I stress that Yerevan's history needs to be preserved at all costs. Developers cannot be allowed to take down old structures at a whim--it is illegal. As far as I know there is a historical commission in Yerevan and it is powerless, as is the city's mayor, who by the looks of things doesn't give a damn anyway.

Blogger Christian Garbis said...
Also see this article:
http://www.hetq.am/eng/society/0512-kond.html

Blogger Artyom said...
these honchos should help rebuild gyumri and spitak instead of building new towers of babel to show off their wealth, if they care at least about the country and not for their fat bellies.

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