What you need to know about Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia, as well as one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. In Soviet years, Yerevan underwent massive reconstruction, following architect Alexander Tamanyan’s new plans to make a perfect city. His vision was a neo-Classical town with wide avenues to resembe Paris, Vienna and Saint Petersburg.
Central Yerevan is a true jewel of early Soviet architecture. She is also home to some large scale Modern and Post-Modern marvels which are mostly the result of Soviet-Armenian architectural megalomania. In Soviet days Yerevan had already become known as the Pink City as much due to the colour of the stone used for building as for the flamboyant spirit of her young population.
Population: 1.06 million (2011)
Area: 87.65 mi²
The currency used in Yerevan is the Armenian Dram. Yerevan is the capital of Armenina. If you are traveling to Yerevan, you will need to exchange your currency for the Armenian Dram. You may exchange your money for the Armenian Dram at most Yerevan banks or at specialized stores called Foreign Exchange Bureaus.
Yerevan features a steppe climate, with long, hot, dry summers and short, but cold and snowy winters. This is attributed to Yerevan being on a plain surrounded by mountains and to its distance from the sea and its effects. The summers are usually very hot with the temperature in August reaching up to 40 °C (104 °F), and winters generally carry snowfall and freezing temperatures with January often being as cold as −15 °C (5 °F) and lower. The amount of precipitation is small, amounting annually to about 318 millimetres (12.5 in). Yerevan experiences an average of 2,700 sunlight hours per year. Temperature regime in Yerevan is close to the southern Midwest cities such as Kansas City, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska, though Yerevan is much drier.
The Yerevan dialect is an Eastern Armenian dialect spoken in and around Yerevan. Classical Armenian (Grabar) words compose significant part of the Yerevan dialect vocabulary. Throughout the history, the dialect was influenced by several languages, especially Russian and Persian and loan words have significant presence in it today. It is the most widespread Armenian dialect today.
Yerevan is generally safer than many western-European cities. Crime and street violence is almost non-existent here. Nevertheless, as in the most cities of its size, in crowded places and transport beware of pickpockets. Scams Yerevan has its share of scams. A common one is that at the end of a restaurant visit, you will be presented with a bill that is much higher that the sum of what you ordered. It is normal that tax / service is added, but especially with European / American tourists restaurant owners tend to add many other things (in Armenian language) to the bill or do not specify the bill at all, but only present you with a total amount that you have to pay. If in doubt, ask for a specified bill and challenge the extras charged if they don’t make sense. A more advanced scam happens in night clubs. Upon entry, you will be warmly welcomed and probably have a great time. At then end of the evening however, a ridiculous amount of money (e.g. 5000 Dram per person) is added to the bill as ‘entrance fee’. When you mention that this was not clear beforehand or displayed anywhere at the entrance / inside the club, their friendliness changes.
The Subway system in Yerevan (people call it metro) is quite reliable and relatively modern, having been built in the early 1980s. It is the quickest way around town and the cheapest aside from walking.
More than a hundred minibus (marshrutka, pronounced mar-shroot-kah) routes exist that criss-cross the city and travel to the suburbs and beyond (such as to Georgia or Karabagh).The minibuses are often overcrowded, and you may find yourself standing, crouched without a seat during rush hour. The route number is displayed prominently in the window, along with Armenian text listing the major landmarks and streets of the route.
Yerevan has lots of buses and a few trolley lines , operated by “Yergortrans.” The fare is very inexpensive and the vehicles are not too crowded. Pay when leaving a bus or trolley. Buses and minivans are the major means of transportation within the country. From Yerevan you can get to literally every place in Armenia within a day. To make things confusing for foreigners, there are several different regional bus-stations in Yerevan and the minivans tend to leave from hard to find places just somewhere at the side of the road. When heading into Yerevan, they are not unknown to drop you at random spots somewhere in the city, so ask the driver beforehand to drop you at a convenient place.
Abundant throughout the city, a taxi ride anywhere downtown. Almost all taxis with company names on the sides have meters, and prices tend to be competitive among taxi companies. To flag an empty one down on the street, just hold your arm out and pat your hand in the air, if they’re free they’ll stop. Taxis without a logo on the side tend to charge more, and may to try to get more out of foreigners. To avoid being ripped off, either call a taxi from a big company or head for the most modern looking ones which usually have a meter. Make sure that the driver switches it on when you start and politely remind him to do so if he has “forgotten” it. If taxi has meter and the driver hasn’t turned it on, in most cases passenger can not pay for the trip. Carry some coins to prevent the drivers from telling you that they have no change on them.