Yerevan, central plaza with fountains

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Leave your preconceptions at home, because Yerevan (ԵՐԵՎԱՆ) will almost certainly confound them. This is a city of contradictions – top-of-the-line Mercedes sedans share the roads with Ladas so old they should be in museum collections; traditional pandoks (taverns) serving khoravats (barbecue meats) and oghee (fruit vodka) sit next to chic European-style wine bars; and street fashions range from hipster to babushka with many weird and wonderful variations in between. In summer, locals take to the streets every night, claiming tables at the city's many outdoor cafes, sauntering along its tree-filled boulevards and congregating at the beloved musical fountain in Republic Sq. Few traces of the city's ancient past remain, usurped by Soviet-era buildings and modern structures with little regard for history. But wander into any dalan (archway) and enter a portal into a different world – you may find a gorgeous 19th-century balcony or beautiful church beyond.

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