The high-level Victory Bridge dates from 1945, its name celebrating victory in World War II. Victory Bridge, 200m long and 34m above the river, supersedes the red-tuff bridge constructed following the collapse of its predecessor in the 1679 earthquake and rebuilt in 1830 after the Russian conquest of Yerevan. The four arches of the 1679 bridge, 80m long and 11m above the river can be seen to the south of Victory Bridge, the central two arches spanning the river itself; the smaller side ones originally crossed irrigation canals. Most visitors see the Hrazden Gorge through which the river flows only as they cross Victory Bridge. In spring, when all is green and the poppies are flowering, driving or walking in the gorge is pleasant, but in the summer it can be hot. Restaurants and cafes have taken over one stretch of the gorge but, thankfully, much remains unspoilt. The Children's Railway is down in the gorge.
At each end of Victory Bridge are prominent buildings associated with Yerevan's alcohol business. At the west (airport) end is the Yerevan brandy distillery which stands on a plateau high above the bridge. The distillery was founded in 1887 but the present building was designed by Hovhannes Margarian, the same architect as was responsible for the Armenergo building in upper Abovian Street. Its facade displaying nine arches can be best appreciated when approached by the long flight of steps from the valley below. Guided tours of the storage facilities and museum, with sampling of the products, can be arranged but the actual production is not shown. It is now owned by the French Pernod Ricard company. Unfortunately its excellent products are difficult to obtain in western Europe; presumably its owners see little point in competing with their French products.
At the other (city) end of the bridge the large rather forbidding building constructed of basalt which faces the bridge, houses the Yerevan Wine Company: built about 1930, its shape and dimensions are exactly those of the former citadel that occupied the site, which is the reason for its appearance. Its architect Rafael Israelian (1908-73) was also responsible for the very fine memorial commemorating the Battle of Sardarapat in Armavir province. It is often stated that the first performance of Griboyedov's Woe from Wit was actually given in a room of the fortress by Russian army officers in 1827 but it is not clear what evidence exists for this claim. It seems unlikely that army officers would have acted in a play which was prohibited by the Tsarist authorities and which was not published until seven years later.
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