Popular Destinations

Vernissage

Vernissage

One of the most crowded places in Yerevan despite the season and weather is Vernissage, which goes live on every Saturday and Sunday, no matter it’s hot outside, cold or heavily raining. It’s an open air market where the best and most impressive souvenirs are offered. Throughout the years it has turned into one of the most significant elements of Yerevan’s cultural life.

The term Vernissage, which has French origins and simply means a private show before the opening of an art exhibition, was included in the vocabulary of Yerevan residents only in the late 1970s.

Arts and Crafts Vernissage


The area where the Arts and Crafts Vernissage is situated is not much visited during the weekdays, while the picture completely changes at weekends. The area once used to be a park with wading pools and water fountains.

The Arts and Crafts Vernissage seems to be divided into two parts, the one part where arts and crafts prevail, and the other one, where more technical things, like different metals and fasteners can be found. The latter is visited by people, whose TV, for example, has broken down, and they need a certain piece. This part, particularly, carries the Soviet Union era breath, and you will hardly see a young man selling those things.

Instead, the part where arts and crafts can be found is more lively and even colorful. This part offers jewelry, woodwork, ceramics, paintings, books and carpets. Various souvenirs depicting Mount Ararat can be seen. Of special interest is the Armenian duduk, traditional Armenian woodwind instrument. Interestingly, the sound of the duduk seems to accompany every visitor while they are roaming around. Other than that, Vernissage offers puppies, dog leashes, hand-carved walnut backgammon boards and vintage clothing.

Prices and Things to Consider


Vernissage comes with really unique things. At the same time, it doesn’t mean every single thing is truly unique and exceptional.

As you pick a certain item, be sure to hear a long description of that particular thing, which is usually being so strongly praised to the skies that you might think it will be one of the greatest mistakes in life not to have it in your house.

In general, no seller at Vernissage has taken English courses, but they all understand English very well, and very often they will understand the language of the tourist much better than those who are specialized in that field.

The purpose of every seller at Vernissage is to sell at least one item during the day. But at the same time even if they have already succeded to sell five, they will spare no effort to sell the sixth and so on.

As you “fail” and let the seller know you are a tourist and not a local, the prices will go higher than they actually are. This is an annoying thing especially for locals, who are sometimes being taken for foreigners and therefore, asked the same price tourists would be required to pay. The best option in this regard, would be to have a typical Armenian by your side while making purchases.

Vernissage is usually open from early morning till 5 pm, sometimes until 6 pm. So don't think of visiting it during your evening roams, as you will simply have to walk along the concrete sidewalks crumbling under the feet and only.

Every relation there is based on a pure bargain over the prices. Long, sometimes boring, and very often funny negotiations are held until a proper price is settled on.

As the sun rises over Yerevan on weekends, the Arts and Crafts Vernissage awakens and comes alive offering a great variety of things sure to entice every passer-by, be it a local or a tourist. Lastly, while leaving Vernissage make sure you buy pomegranate, the most mystical object and souvenir to take back home to your family. With its variety of goods and mix of visitors, Vernissage is always a delight!


By the way, if you are particularly interested in paintings, then visiting the Paintings Vernissage will be a great idea.

Paintings Vernissage


Paintings Vernissage is located in the French Park, which was named so as a sign of the friendly relations between Armenia and France. Opened in 2006 in the presence of Armenian President Robert Qocharyan and his counterpart Jacques Chirac the park acts as a green and peaceful place on weekdays and is usually visited by passers-by and people living nearby. In contrast, at weekends the park turns into an outdoor exhibition of paintings at which artists usually act as sales people. The prices of the paintings greatly vary.

Approach anyone among the sales people and ask about the paintings – it will turn out that either they are the painters or their sons and grandchildren. Afterward, they will happily tell you the entire story of their life and as they go on with their story, there is one conclusion you come to – the art of each of those artist-sales people has become something that’s being carefully passed from the father to son.

Vernissage Early History


Vernissage was established in 1980s. Back then Armenian artists used to display their art in the square in front of the Union of Armenian Artists. At first there were only art students who used to display their works in a park by Komitas Monument. The park was not large and today it can be found in front of Yerevan’s conservatory. With time Vernissage moved to the park around Saryan Monument. This decision was but a tribute to renowned Armenian painter Martiros Saryan.

Already in the 1990s it turned into one of the primary centers for art exhibitions with lots of tourists visiting and admiring the art pieces introduced there. Interestingly, not only artists were presenting their art works but also merchants started offering various items for sale. As a result, Vernissage expanded and currently two Vernissages are differentiated – Paintings Vernissage and Arts and Crafts Vernissage, which is today way more popular than the former.

Location

The Arts and Crafts Vernissage is located in the center of Yerevan on Pavstos Buzand Bulevard. The Republic Square, The National Gallery and History Museum, the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and Marriot Hotel can be found nearby.

The Paintings Vernissage is located in the French Park around Martiros Saryan Monument. Nearby places are the Opera House and Cascade.