Ancient Wine Cellars in Yerevan Downtown Are in Danger
19.02.2016
12:00
Yerevan is losing its face as ancient buildings in the center of the city are being demolished. Demolition of buildings and ancient underground wine cellars on Pushkin, Abovyan and Aram streets, along with the construction of multifunctional buildings in these territories, damages not only the architectural view of Yerevan but also its attractiveness for tourism and wine industry. Representatives of tour operators and wine industry stated this at the Media Center conference held on 19 February.

"It is due to the policy of demolition that Yerevan has lost its face and tour operators cannot prepare tours for more than an hour to show the city to visitors. As a result a tourist stays in Yerevan for a day and leaves it without spending money, said Nune Manukyan, director of Areni Fest Foundation. She also added that old wine cellars in the center of Yerevan are endangered because construction works are being held here, and the ancient buildings that are still standing, must be dismantled according to the Mayor’s Office.

A number of tour operators and winemakers in Armenia last October sent a letter to the municipality, in order to know if the ancient buildings in the center of Yerevan, on Pushkin, Abovyan and Aram streets will be dismantled. Approximately eighty winemakers and tour operators received a positive response to the letter stating that yes, these buildings will be demolished and multifunctional buildings will be constructed on their places.

Ancient buildings are interesting for tourism, says Nune Manukyan and adds that there are wine jars, scythes in these areas, and now their fate is unknown. "Although wine industry and tourism announced as the stream sectors of the economy in our country, but the buildings which make a part of the city history and are interesting for the tourists are being carelessly destroyed. As a result of this policy, we lose the face of the city, and this makes it very difficult to create a tourism product and sell it while tourism brings a lot of money to the state," she added.

Winemakers are not even pleased with Minister of Urban Development Narek Sargsyan's statement assuring that no architectural monument will be demolished. According to him, basements and wine cellars of those buildings will be kept.

The speakers recalled the Minister’s statement that the Northern Avenue would be greener and have another look, but it was "constructed completely differently."

According to Boris Gasparyan, Researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences, it is necessary to preserve not only the cellars but also the surrounding historic environment. "The old cellars should be carefully kept, those are historical values, our wealth. For example, there are similar cellars and scythes also in famous Dalma gardens. Very well-preserved wine cellars, which can be attractive for tourism together with gardens,'' he said.

Winemakers suggested the authorities restore and rebuild underground cellars in Yerevan instead of demolition or dismantling. "We have received these cellars as a gift. They are monuments to our history of wine industry. But today, instead of taking advantage of this wealth we ourselves destroy it," said "Trinity" winemaking company director Hovakim Saghatelian.

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