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Mesrop Mashtots Avenue

'The men' statue of the painter Martiros Sarian (1880-1972)The small park to the northwest of the opera house contains a statue of the painter Martiros Sarian (1880-1972). Rather appropriately the park is used at weekends for the sale of paintings in a similar way to Vernissage. A little to the south is the sculpture The Men depicting well-known characters from a Soviet-era film of the same name directed by Edmond Keosayan and popular with Armenians. At this point a detour can be made to visit Zoravor Church which is hidden behind Soviet apartment blocks.

Turn right from Mesrop Mashtots Avenue along Tumanian Street, then left along Parpetsi Street, then first right into a narrow side street. The church is at the end of this small street, surrounded by trees. It dates from 1693 with renovations in the late 18th century and 1990s. If you're in need of refreshment, there is a Jazzve coffee shop at 35 Tumanian Street. From the back of the opera house continue down tree-lined Mesrop Mashtots Avenue. It is not for the most part architecturally interesting, being lined by office blocks containing shops at street level, but at the top of Mashtots on the right are two shops which may be of interest. One is a well-stocked secondhand bookshop and next door is a brandy shop belonging to the Ararat distillery. As well as brandy it has good selections of imported and Armenian wines. The first interesting building Blue Mosque in Yerevanencountered is in the fifth block from the opera house. Behind elaborate doors on the left lies the Blue Mosque, built in 1765 and the only one surviving in Yerevan. During Soviet days it was the museum of the city of Yerevan but in 1999 it was renovated in Persian style at the expense of the Iranian government and is now functioning as a mosque once more. The grounds are quite pleasant with shrubs and trees, and access to the interior is possible through the main gate which is usually open.

The other interesting building is just past the mosque on the opposite side. It is the 1940s-built covered market. Designed by Grigor Aghababian (1911-77), it is immediately recognisable by its arching roof and Armenian decoration on the facade. It is a good place to buy both fresh produce and the superb Armenian dried fruits including those stuffed with nuts. A few metres further along Mesrop Mashtots, beyond the market and mosque go straight ahead through the underpass beneath Grigor Lusavorich ('Gregory the Illuminator') Street. You quickly reach the Hrazdan Gorge close to St Sargis Church. The present church replaces the one destroyed in the 1679 earthquake. It was built during the period 1691-1705 and rebuilt between 1835 and 1842. Further extensive rebuilding including a taller cupola took place from 1971 onwards and was completed in 2000. From the church there are good views over the Hrazdan to Victory Bridge, Ararat, the stadium and the Genocide Memorial.

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