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Yerevan Cascade - A Stairway to Art and History

The Yerevan Cascade is a monumental architectural landmark situated in the heart of Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia. This massive structure, resembling a giant staircase, stands out as one of the city's main tourist attractions.

Architect Alexander Tamanyan conceived the idea for the Cascade complex, aiming to connect the northern and central parts of the city—the historical residential and cultural centers—by creating an expansive green space adorned with waterfalls and gardens that would "enthrone" from one of the highest hills in the city. Although the project was initially forgotten, it was revived in the late 1970s by Yerevan's chief architect, Jim Torosyan.

Kiwi by Peter Wojtuk

Construction of Torosyan's Cascade complex began in the 1980s during the Soviet era but faced interruptions due to the earthquake in Armenia in 1988 and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. As Armenia transitioned to independence and democracy, the country also grappled with severe economic challenges, leading the Cascade complex to remain a neglected relic of the Soviet era for over a decade.

In 2002, philanthropist Gerard L. Cafesjian, in collaboration with the Yerevan Municipality and the Government of the Republic of Armenia, initiated the restoration of the Cascade Complex. Over the following seven years, extensive renovations transformed much of the memorial into an arts center, now bearing the legacy of its founder, Gerard L. Cafesjian.

The entrance to the Cafesjian Center for the Arts

The structure is constructed from white travertine stone, chosen for its ample availability suitable for such a large-scale construction. The Cascade comprises five hillside terraces connected by 572 steps. The building stands 302 meters high (excluding the 40th Anniversary of Soviet Armenia monument), spans 50 meters in width, and encompasses a total area of 13 hectares with a 15-degree slope.

Interactive Learning Center (Library) and Museum Store in Cafesjian Art Center

Established in 2009, the museum has gained significant popularity in Yerevan.

The entire architectural heritage site serves as an open-air museum of modern art, nestled within lush green surroundings. Within the Cascade complex, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts is situated, hosting exhibition halls for both permanent and temporary displays. These exhibitions showcase outstanding examples of contemporary art and sculpture.

The museum is divided into two distinct sections: the external "Cafesjian Sculpture Garden" and the internal "Cafesjian Art Galleries."

In the "Khanjian" hall, there is a monumental mural by the renowned Armenian painter Grigor Khanjyan (1926-2000). The three main scenes of this monument, commissioned during the Soviet period and left unfinished after Khanjyan's death, depict the key pages of Armenian history: "Armenian Alphabet" (1992-1994), "Vardanak" (1995-1998), and "Reborn Armenia" (1998-2000).

The majority of the museum's collection is derived from the private collection of the founder, Gerard L. Cafesjian. With over 5,000 works, the center exhibits one of the most comprehensive glass collections globally, highlighting the groundbreaking works of the Czech couple Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, who revolutionized the use of glass as an artistic medium. Other noteworthy glass artists in the collection include Dale Chihuly, Bohumil Elias, Pavel Hlava, Jaromír Rybák, Ivana Šrámková, Bertil Vallien, Lino Tagliapietra, Mark Peiser, and Hiroshi Yamano.

The collection also boasts significant holdings in drawing, painting, and sculpture by numerous influential artists, including Fernando Botero, Arshile Gorky, Jennifer Bartlett, Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Jaume Plensa, and François-Xavier Lalanne.

The Cafesjian Sculpture Garden, located in the front gardens of the cascade, features numerous exhibited sculptures. Additionally, sculptures adorn the garden terrace along the expansive steps and fountains ascending from the Tamanyan street gardens. With unobstructed walkways, expansive vistas, and formal garden areas, this space is purposefully designed to provide a modern setting for large-scale sculptures by internationally recognized artists.

The theme of the national epic poem has always been of special interest to sculptor Artashes Hovsepyan. The artist together with four masters worked for four years in the salon that today bears the name "Sasuntsi David".

The "Cafesjian Art Galleries" encompass Gallery One, Khanjyan Gallery, Eagle Gallery, Sasuntsi Davit Garden Gallery, Star Landing, and the Special Events Auditorium situated beneath the exterior staircase and fountains. These galleries house an extensive collection of glass artwork showcased in various permanent displays and temporary exhibitions.

Khanjyan Gallery is home to the large scale mural triptych "History of Armenia" by renowned Soviet and Armenian painter Grigor Khanjyan. Sasuntsi Davit Gallery includes basrelief by Artashes Hovsepyan depicting scenes from the Armenian epic fable David of Sasun.

In conclusion, the Yerevan Cascade is more than just a staircase. It’s a symbol of Yerevan’s rich history, a hub for art lovers, and a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city.

The Garden of Cafesjian Sculptures is always open.

Escalator Hall: Every day, from 08:00 to 20:00.

Exhibition Halls, Museum Shop, and Visitor Center: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, from 10:00 to 20:00.

The center is closed on public holidays.

A visit to Yerevan Cascade Complex is free.


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