Erebuni Historical & Archaeological Museum-Reserve

Top choice archaeological site in Yerevan

Image by De Agostini / W. Buss Getty Images

This archaeological site dates from 782 BC, three decades before Rome was established. It gives an excellent insight into daily life in the palace of Argishti I, one of the greatest kings of Urartu. At the foot of the hill, a Soviet-era museum displays artefacts from the palace excavations including some extraordinary silver rhythons (drinking horns), as well as objects found when an Urartian tomb was uncovered in Yerevan in 1984 during construction of a factory.

The first stage of excavations here started in 1950, after a farmer unearthed an inscribed stone tablet. Archaeologists swooped in and soon found a large cuneiform slab with the inscriptions of Argishti I confirming the date when the fortress was constructed. They went on to uncover the remains of courtyards, halls, temples and rooms that were part of the royal palace. Dozens of Urartian and Achaemenid artefacts and mural fragments were also found, many of which are now displayed in the museum.

The view from the fortress takes in parts of the city and Karmir Blur (Red Hill), where excavations have revealed similar ancient finds. Frescoes in the reconstructed palace wall are replicas. There are huge storerooms for wheat, along with tonir (oven pits) and gigantic pitchers for wine and oil. There’s also a place for animal sacrifices, and workshops (still buried) for making tools.

To get here, take bus 16 or marshrutka 73 or 14 from Khandjian St or from opposite the Zoravar Andranik metro station on Tigran Mets Ave. Alternatively, take marshrutka 11 from Republic Sq or marshrutka 37 or 58 from Mesrop Mashtots Ave. Get off at the large roundabout with an orange tufa statue of King Argishti in his chariot; it's a 15- to 20-minute trip from the city centre.