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Italy & Beirut Streets

Return to Grigor Lusavorich Street and turn right in the underpass to emerge on the east side of this street facing south. Afterone block there is a park on the left, formerly called Kirov Park and now Children's Park. In it is a bust erected in 1950 of Soviet war hero Nelson Stepanian (1913-44). Keep straight on past the park as far as the next street on the left. To the right across the road is a striking new building complete with a clock tower. Finished in 2005, it houses the municipal offices for the city government and the History of Yerevan Museum. The carvings on the southern facade represent the 12 capitals of Greater Armenia, from Urartian Van to present-day Yerevan. The carving over the entrance to the museum is a plan of Yerevan, and that over the entrance to the municipal offices is the tree of life over the circular symbol of eternity.

Turn left from Grigor Lusavorich Street into what was in his lifetime called Stalin Street but is now called Beirut Street. In the middle of this street is a 1980 granite statue of Alexander Miasnikian (1886-1925), a professional Bolshevik revolutionary who was appointed Commissar for Armenia in 1921. He was reported to have died in an air crash although rumours arose that he had really been poisoned on the orders of Stalin because of disagreements over western Armenia. There are rose gardens and fountains in the middle of the street behind the statue. The opposite side of the street is actually called Italy Street rather than Beirut Street; the Italian embassy is on the corner.

Walk along Beirut Street. Cross over to Italy Street after a few metres to visit the Theatre Park, formerly named the Park of the 26 Commissars in honour of the 26 Bolsheviks who set up a short-lived government in Baku which was deposed as the Turkish army approached. They fled to Turkmenistan but were captured and executed in September 1918. The park has been renamed Theatre Park, as the park is home to the Sundukian Drama Theatre. Its company was created in 1925. The inaugural performance was of the play Pepo by Gabriel Sundukian (1825-1912), a story about love versus exploitation set in Tiflis (Tbilisi) and first performed in 1871. There is a statue dating from 1976 of the eponymous Pepo in the park as well as a bust of Sundukian which dates from 1972. The present 1,140-seat building was built in 1966 and was reopened after renovation in 2004. Just beyond the entrance to the park in the central reservation is a bronze statue erected in 1970 of a boy holding a large jug of water. It is a reminder of the days when such youths used to sell water along the dusty streets of the old town.

Continuing along Beirut Street or Italy Street, depending on which side you care lo walk, just past the next intersection is another statue, this time of Stepan Shahumian, again created by the same Sergei Merkurov who was responsible for the now-vanished Lenin and Stalin. Stepan Shahumian (1878-1918) was an Armenian who was instrumental in imposing Bolshevik rule in Azerbaijan and one of the 26 commissars after whom the park was named. He is further commemorated in having two towns named after him: Stepanavan in Lori province and Stepanakert in Nagorno Karabagh. The granite statue, erected in 1931, is the oldest on this walk, behind it, in the middle of the street, is a fountain with 2,750 jets, one for every year of Yerevan's existence up to the time that the fountain was installed in 1968. It extends as far as Republic Square which is where the walk started and, when the fountain is operating, the cafes lining it make it another pleasant place to rest after walking the streets of central Yerevan.

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