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Friday, 3 October 2008

Armenian church: can't get enough?

There was building here. That building, as far as I remember, did belong to the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia. (Years ago, I went to a foreign language course there.) It fitted nicely with Abovyan street. It probably needed renovation, from the inside, or may be outside too, I do not know, like any other old building. But this?.. Now the building is no longer there. It has been demolished. Instead, there are scenes of destruction there. The reason of demolition? Have a look at the picture again. Building up another ‘mini-empire’ by the Armenian church in the heart of Yerevan. As if they do not have enough buildings and churches. Well, that church was there for ages, but now they are building up something like office for the church or whatever.

And in general, during recent years, the face of my beloved Abovyan street in the heart of Yerevan has been gradually distorted by a number of ugly stores/constructions appeared right on the pavement.

Shame, really…

16 comments:

Danielbeast said...

Can't agree with you here, not one bit. So you'd rather have anonymous Soviet buildings which hide history instead of something cultural like this 1600s church? There is almost NO history in Yerevan left, almost all of it demolished and replaced with those very anonymous buildings. One of the few which survived this, and after much protest, was this little church. The larger church around it was taken down but this church was found within and so finally Stalin relented and allowed it to remain- but only if totally hidden from view by being completely surrounded by a building. I don't know how you can possible argue that hiding our history with a building, I think having something historical in the middle of otherwise modern Abovyan Street is a GOOD thing and can be made (as I think plans do call for) into a nice oasis in the center of the city.
I can't speak for the entire project because I'm not connected and often there are drawbacks when it comes to any sort of construction in Armenia, but I do know it has some good people behind it and I am glad to see this triumph of Armenian culture and history over attempts of Soviet revisionism and attempts to forget.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, let's see what goes there, right? If Northern Avenue and other construction projects in the center are anything to go by, it's going to be ugly, ugly, ugly. The new St. Gregory Cathedral has got to be one of the most unaesthetic buildings in the world as well.

As for Yerevan, I agree, there is not much old left, unless you count Kond (which I really hope is NOT destroyed and instead renovated and turned into something touristic).

However, by this logic -- given that Yerevan was not a city until recently (in historical terms) what are you suggesting? Tearing it all down? Besides, some Soviet architecture is nice.

True, the buildings in Tbilisi are nicer, but there is some nice Soviet-era architecture which is still Armenian and which is still part of history. Let's face it, Yerevan is basically a Soviet-era city (Erebuni is another issue).

Before then it was pretty much a village. As for the church, a corrupt institution in Armenia (as it probably is elsewhere, but more so here), I really hope we're not going the way Georgia has.

In recent years the power of the Georgian church has grown incredibly to the point where they often have more power than the municipality when it comes to land and property-grabs.

Not a direction I'd want to see Armenia follow. And yes, I agree, we focus on churches and khachkars too much. True, Tbilisi is defined by the churches you can see almost everywhere you look, but it is also a different type of city.

Well, can't stop this, we couldn't stop the destruction of some buildings on Abovian to make way for some really ugly rabiz structures just as we couldn't stop Northern Avenue and we'll probably not be able to stop the destruction of Kond. Pity.

nazarian said...

During my years in Yerevan I used to pass near that church often (was a shortcut). It looked moldy and wet because it was in the shadow of the other building.

I am kind of glad that it is not dry and presentable. The area surrounding it should have become a park and not an office building, though.

Where did the science institute move?

nazarian said...

Man, those Soviet 'projects' look ugly!

R said...

Actually the shocking thing about Yerevan is how few churches there are.

Onnik Krikorian said...

Well, I have to admit, I'm not a great fan of Yerevan as a city after visits to Tbilisi as well as the general destruction of all that was nice about it when I arrived. However, Tamanian's design was a Soviet project, I guess.

As for the number of churches, yes, I suppose, but understandable given the time of the city's development. There wouldn't have been many there (although there was one where Moscow cinema is or something). Mosques were destroyed in Kond too, btw (pics still exist at the school there and one is now a collection of homes minus the minarets).

Still, I think the ugly aspects of Soviet planning can be compared with the same thing we had in the U.K. -- the tower blocks and new towns constructed etc. Some of the other architecture is quite nice, though.

Still, like I said, let's see what we get around that church. Would be nice to have some more green space, I agree. I just hope whatever does go there meets higher aesthetic standards than that damn ugly new cathedral.

artmika said...

Agree re new cathedral, it’s hideous, it’s cold and lifeless.

emma said...

Forget green space. They didn't have any intention to turn the Institute of language into green space. They say Garegin wants a new guesthouse or a hotel or something like that.
Poor acadmician Jahukian. He struggled for his Institute. They pulled it down as soon as he died.

spm said...

The cutest thing about that church was it being hidden. Stripped nake it looks ridiculous and out of place. I believe the Church is going to built around it something similarly horrible as the St. Gregory Cathedral. I would not be surprised if the ugliness of the projects is related to the corruption that penetrated St. Echmidazin since communists were gone. The old building probably wasn't a jewell of architecture but it was charmingly "Yerevanian". What is more upsetting though, is that it was brought down not for reasons of being old or ugly. The spot was liked by the head of our church, who probably felt that Echmiadzin was too provincial for him and he must seat closer to the "godfather". Ironically so.

artmika said...

Exactly, the demolished building was charmingly Yerevanian...

emma said...

spm's comment is perfectly exact and complete. Nothing more to be added.

armen said...

i think it’s great that the city actually removed the Thai restaurant (although they had great food) which was blocking the church's view from Sayat Nova street. I hope the city plants some nice greenery around the church and gets rid of that ugly entrance to the church door. This church I believe adds great historic cultural value to Yerevan’s center.

artmika said...

It’s getting ridiculous: Armenian MPs want to have their own church on Baghramyan Avenue

Onnik Krikorian said...

Unfortunately, I tend to suspect that Emma is correct. Indeed, it just strikes me as yet another land-grab in central Yerevan. The church is probably just an excuse.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance to Stalin-era Armenian destruction.

Glad they finally tore down the language institute and what little remains of the church (90% demolished in the 30s under Stalin's orders) is now visible.

Danielbeast got it right in comment #1.

artmika said...

It’s confirmed by the lead of construction project, that new church - St Anna, will be constructed behind the old one, as well as Yerevan residence for The Catholicos. Rediculous!

Սուրբ Աննա եկեղեցին Երևանի կենտրոնում
«Շուտով Երևանի կենտրոնում կսկսվի Սուրբ Աննա եկեղեցու կառուցումը։ «Տարածքը տրված է եկեղեցուն. Կաթողիկե եկեղեցու շրջակայքում կառուցվելու է Ամենայն Հայոց կաթողիկոսի երևանյան նստավայր և նոր եկեղեցի՝ Կաթողիկե եկեղեցու հետնամասում։ Այն կանվանվի Սուրբ Աննա։ Ըստ էության, նոր եկեղեցին 12-րդ դարի եկեղեցու հետևի մասում կլինի՝ առաջին պլան մղելով կարմիր տուֆով կառուցված պատմական հուշարձանը։ Նոր եկեղեցին մտադիր ենք անել գրանիտով, որի մոխրագույնը ֆոն կդառնա չափերով փոքրիկ կարմրաքար եկեցեղու համար»,- մեր թղթակցին պատմեց Սայաթ-Նովա – Աբովյան հատվածում, Կաթողիկե եկեղեցու հարակից տարածքում իրականացվող ճարտարապետական նախագծի հեղինակ, ճարտարապետ Հրաչյա Պողոսյանը։

Source: Hayots Ashkharh (28 October 2008)
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