The far end of Abovian Street
Abovian Street has some worthwhile buildings beyond Isahakian Street where it crosses the green belt. On the left corner of Abovian and Isahakian is the Armenergo building housing Armenia's main electricity utility. Constructed in 1930 of black tuff, it was designed by Hovhannes Margarian (1901-63) who was also responsible for the Yerevan brandy distillery.
Passing numerous vendors whose prices are among the lowest in the city and then crossing Koriun Street, the building of black tuff on the right corner is the Yerevan Medical University. Anyone wishing to see Yerevan's cable car should turn right into Koriun Street and walk along it for one block to the lower terminus. It used to take travellers up to the Nork Plateau and operated daily except Sundays from 08.00 until 19.00. However, in 2004 one of the cars plunged to the ground killing five passengers and it has since been out of use. The accident was blamed on poor maintenance. A new footbridge to the lower terminus has been built across a recently built slip road; are there plans to reinstate the cable car?
Otherwise, continue uphill along Abovian Street. On the left side of the street is a small park housing the original university observatory designed in the 1930s by Tamanian but superseded by the Byurakan astrophysics observatory on Mount Aragats. At the entrance to the park is a statue of Victor Hambartsumian (1908-96), a prominent astrophysicist and one of the founders of the observatory.
On the right-hand side of Abovian Street there is a neo-Classical building of 1880 which originally housed the Guyanian Mirzorian School for Girls but now houses the university faculty of theology. After an elaborate wrought-iron fence (still incorporating a hammer and sickle design, alternating with the staff of Aesculapius) complete with stone posts and flower pots enclosing a hospital courtyard, is a particularly interesting building. It is the Mari Nubar children's eye clinic which includes a series of pyramids in the frieze below the cornice. This building stems from an initiative in Egypt taken on Easter Sunday (15 April) 1906. Armenians had been prospering in Egypt, and particularly so since the British occupied the country in 1882. Numbers of Armenians there were also being swelled by refugees from Ottoman oppression as well as from the Armenian-Azeri conflicts. The driving force behind the initiative was Boghos Nubar Pasha (1851-1930), an Armenian whose father, Nubar Pasha, had been prime minister of Egypt on five separate occasions between 1872 and 1895. The initiative saw the founding of the Armenian General Benevolent Fund whose mission was to establish and subsidise schools, libraries, workshops, hospitals and orphanages for the benefit of Armenian communities throughout the Middle East and adjacent regions and the Yerevan children's eye hospital was built under the auspices of this organisation. Later Boghos Nubar Pasha was to be leader of the Armenian delegation at the Paris peace conference of 1919. The newly decorated building is still an eye clinic but no longer just for children.
Abovian Street opens out into Abovian Square, in the centre of which is a statue of Abovian himself sculpted by Suren Stepanian and unveiled in 1950. This was not the statue of Abovian originally intended for this site. That statue, made of bronze, was sculpted in Paris in 1913 by Andreas Ter-Marukian, packed up for shipment, but then, owing to some misunderstanding, it was forgotten and lay undisturbed for 20 years. When it was finally delivered in 1935 it was first erected on Abovian Street near the Moscow Cinema, then moved to the children's park by the Hrazdan River, before finally in 1964 being taken to the Abovian House Museum where it remains.
The building on the right as you enter the square is a hospital of the 1930s. The Folk Art Museum is just beyond that.
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