Erebuni Fortress: Remnants of The Past
Laying on the Arin hill, this citadel built in the 8th century is an oasis of silence which commands your attention and cuts you off from the rush of the city, transporting you to another space and time.
As you slowly ascend the many steps, you get the feeling that you're on a sort of pilgrimage carrying you to a higher purpose. You’ll gradually shut off from the world around you as you carry on your path. Once you reach the end, you will understand that it was all worth it.
Around you, the basalt, tufa stones and clay plastered mud brick give a tone of warmth to the space, while the layers of vertical partitions provide you with insight of what the place must’ve looked like centuries ago.
With an overview of the city, its buildings and narrow streets and colorful cars, and Mount Ararat on the horizon - you will understand that the effort was well worth it. Perhaps more impressive than all is Erebuni’s deep history.
As a matter of fact, we know that more than just a fortress, this was a highly sophisticated, self-sufficient living city with its own palace, service quarter and temples. Considered to be one of the most powerful Uratian structures ever built, Erebuni was the beating heart of the vast kingdom and its religious, cultural and political center. Adding to this, the fortress played a strategic role on a military level and more than 6000 warriors resided within its walls.
The majority of this once imposing citadel is now erased. Luckily, fragments have survived the test of time and stayed as a reminder of the existence of this majestic edifice. The remaining foundations and the fortified walls help you trace the layout of the citadel while some rooms here and there give you an idea of what the structure looked like in its heyday. Open courtyards filled with people, long corridors leading to spacious column halls and their vestibules. Walls decorated with carpets and frescoes depicting scenes of Nature and human life. Thankfully, some of these you can still witness with your own eyes, such as the opulent yellow and blue murals in the Outer Portico Post on the main entrance.
It’s amazing how this citadel can express so much power in its silence. No wonder it is called ‘’The fortress of blood’’ (Arin Berd). The air on that hill is filled with mystery, secrets of the past, and victories. You can’t help but feel mesmerized by the prowess and skills of the people who constructed it hundreds of years ago and called it their home.
Despite being mostly ruins, Erebuni’s legacy lives on. As a matter of fact, the modern day capitalwas founded as the citadel was constructed, and its name ‘’Yerevan’’ derives from ‘’Erebuni’’.
As you visit the citadel, make sure to see the cuneiform stone inscription that states the exact date of the foundation of the fortress by the Uratian king Argishti I in 782 BC. This means that Yerevan has its own birth certificate, engraved in stone, proving that it’s one of the oldest cities in the world, founded some 2802 years ago!
Author: Grace Jerejian
Images: Miqayel Badalyan
Reconstruction image: Rouben Sargsyan
Erebuni Fortress: when History leaves its marks…