Of the eight or so working mosques in Yerevan in 1900, the Blue Mosque (Mesrop Mashtots Poghota; working hours 10am-6pm) is the only one remaining. The Iran Information & Communication Centre next door has the key. It’s appropriate to wear trousers and a longsleeved shirt – no bare legs or shoulders. The Soviets turned the mosque into the Yerevan City Museum until it was restored and somewhat ‘modernised’ by an Iranian religious government foundation in the 1990s. It lives on as a sign of Armenia’s necessarily good relations with Iran. The mosque was built in 1765 by the Persian Governor Hussein Ali Khan as a place for Friday sermons and features a medrese (religious college) built around a garden courtyard, a 24m-high minaret and a brightly tiled turquoise dome. A seven-hectare fortress was also built during the governor’s reign but was destroyed in the 1880s. Today it’s the site of the Yerevan Wine Plant, just on the city side of the Haghtanak Bridge across from the Metropol Hotel. As you drive from the airport over the Hrazdan River into the city, look at the walls on the left above the river, which are said to be the original walls of this fortress.
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