Mother Armenia Military Museum

Museum in Yerevan

There's symbolism aplenty in this huge memorial above the Cascade. Twenty-two metres high, Mother Armenia's stern visage, military stance and massive sword project a clear message: Armenia has had its fill of invasions, massacres and repression, and will fight to preserve its nationhood and the lives of its citizens. Inside the pedestal is a military museum documenting Armenian involvement in WW2 (300,000 Armenians died, half of those sent to fight) as well as the bloody 1988–94 Karabakh War with Azerbaijan.

The museum opened in 1950 and was originally topped with a 17m statue of Stalin. This was replaced with Ara Harutyunyan's Mother Armenia statue in 1967. One soldier was crushed to death and several were injured when Stalin's statue was wrenched off unannounced one night, leading to grim muttering about Stalin still killing from beyond the grave. Inside, one of the most interesting exhibits deals with Operation Nemesis, a covert action by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) carried out from 1920 to 1922 in which Ottoman political and military figures were assassinated for their roles in the horrific massacres of 1915–16.

Be warned that the staff here have a scam going whereby they try to charge every visitor AMD500 to enter. In reality, entrance is free and the charge only applies if you wish to take photographs.

Mother Armenia is located in the poorly maintained Haghtanak (Victory) Park, which is also home to a small fun fair popular with locals on weekends. To get here, take the elevator in the Cascade to the top courtyard and from there walk up the stairs to the huge concrete platform. From the top of the platform, walk to the main road, take the underpass and enter the park.