Getting to Know Kond
A short walk from Yerevan’s center and you will find yourself transported to a completely new dimension! Even though it looks like it, no, you're not suddenly in a Hollywood production, nor you have time traveled. Instead, you have stepped into Kond, the last remaining quarter of Old Yerevan.
Kond is mysterious, unique and charming...
It is astonishing to realize that the current urban fabric of Kond has remained the same for centuries, and that the streets had preserved the same layout from the 17th century. This leads to some exceptional architectural remains and historical gems.
A Melting Pot of Ethnicities...
As you discover the inner corners of Kond, you will suddenly come across the only wall that's left from the Persian mosque which is estimated to be built in 1687 and considered a historical monument protected by the Armenian State. This mosque was named Tapebashi which is the Muslim equivalent of the Armenian word Kond that means ''long hill'', designating its higher location compared to the neighboring areas.
You will also see some brick constructions with Islamic architectural elements such as pointed arches mixed with the traditional rounded ones. Even though these buildings aren't in their best shape, they are a beautiful attestation of Kond’s dense cultural diversity.
Not very far from this mosque is the Surp Hovhannes Church (Saint John the Baptist Church) which was built in 1710 to replace a medieval church that was completely destroyed during the 1679 earthquake.
A Blend of the Old, the Modern and the Artistic...
Although it sounds like a piece of urban fabric frozen in time, we shouldn't forget that Kond has been constantly inhabited. Between these edifices from the past, you will often see little children playing football or running races. Their laughs and giggles break Kond’s otherwise silent atmosphere. The approximately 3000 inhabitants of Kond live in one- or two-story modest constructions glued to one another. Watching these homes from the outside is like getting an inside view to the personal taste and individual creativity of these people.
However, what you will soon notice as you continue your exploration is that Kond is changing, you will get the sense that here and there new constructions are slowly replacing these old homes.
The diversity, density and richness of Kond doesn't stop here. Not long ago, a project turning the walls of Kond into a canvas for street art and graffiti was launched. Now the neighborhood has a vibrant and colorful character. As you walk these alleys and pass these houses your eyes will be drawn to the expressive, modern art.
Warm Hearts and Beautiful Doors...
What makes Kond alive and beautiful above all else are the people who live there. As we were walking through, many ti,mes we were stopped by the locals to be offered a cup of tea and biscuits. It is actually a well-known fact that a ''Kondesti'' is particularly hospitable, friendly and welcoming - and we got to experience it ourselves. Hearing their stories about day-to-day life in the neighborhood or listening to ''tatiks'' (grandmas) talking about six decades spent in Kond is fascinating to say the least.
Afraid to bother but consumed by curiosity, we knocked on one of the doors to take a look at the famous wall that served as a projecting screen for movies in the 1950's. Welcomed with a heartwarming smile by the current inhabitants of the house, they insisted on inviting us to their house and giving us an insider’s view on Kond.
It's not only the people behind these doors that are beautiful but even the doors in this ancient neighborhood. From ancient wooden doors intricately carved and decorated with various motifs to the most humble house doors colored in eye-catching ways... Everything here is beautiful.
Unfortunately, Kond remains unknown by so many visitors and even locals. When they are spending their time in the trendiest spots of the city, little do they know that there is a whole other world just minutes away waiting to be discovered! Kond is many things and often quite paradoxical. What is for sure is that Kond has a character of its own!
--- by Grace Jerejian