Uncovering the Charm of Flea Markets in Yerevan
Searching for something special and “storied” to take home with you from Armenia? Look no further than the many open-air markets in Yerevan: lively hubs that pulsate with the energy of the city. Picture yourself wandering through a maze of stalls, each one offering a unique piece of history or a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage. From local spices to antique dishware to vintage rugs, there's something for everyone.
Where to go
Vernissage is the most famous of Yerevan’s markets. Located near Republic Square, it’s a must-visit for locals and tourists alike, bustling seven days a week. Even if you don’t have anything special in your mind to purchase, it’s fun to simply saunter through the rows of wares. You’ll encounter traditional Armenian crafts, “jazzve’’ coffee pots, silver jewellery, hand-carved musical instruments and wooden items, elegant chess boards, textiles, pottery and so much more. You’ll also find vintage items like soviet-era memorabilia, antique dishware, and hand-woven rugs from all regions of Armenia. When facing the market from the side of Republic Square, travel down the far-right side of the market to browse the carpets and the far-left side to explore the paintings.
Across from the Opera House, Saryan Park is a hub for local painters. Explore one-of-a-kind portraits, still lifes, landscapes and distinctive pieces to add to your art collection. This art market operates seven days a week, usually from 10 am to sunset.
Book stalls around the city offer vintage and used books, usually in Russian or Armenian language. You’ll find such a stall near the Komitas musical institute at Yeritasardakan metro station.
The word “shuka” simply means “market” in Armenian. If you’re looking for deals on dried fruits, nuts, local spices, coffee, alcohol and other edible items that you can take home with you, visit one of the open-air shukas. Generally, you’ll find better prices and fresher items. There are shukas which offer produce, spices and other food items on Kajaznuni Street, near Barekamutyun metro station on Hakobyan Street, and other locations around the city.
Thrifted clothing stores and antique galleries can be found through a quick google search.
Tips for flea market shopping
Engage with the friendly locals who are more than eager to share tales of their treasures. One of the unique aspects of market shopping is the opportunity to interact with artisans directly. Some of the vendors also create the items they sell, giving visitors a chance to learn about the stories behind the artwork and the techniques used in their creation.
With this in mind, be aware that as you pass a stall or show interest in a product, vendors may “pitch” their wares to you. Don’t feel obligated to buy, this is part of the market culture. Shopping is interactive and a bit of a game here!
Also don’t be afraid to haggle a bit – it’s encouraged. In Armenia, bargaining is an art form, a dance of wits and smiles that adds a playful rhythm to your exploration. The language of trade transcends words, creating a unique connection between buyers and sellers.
If you’re a serious buyer, it’s wise to come with cash in hand. Although some of the vendors will accept payment by card or bank transfer, this is more the exception than the rule.
Flea market shopping is not just about the goods; it's about the people, the stories, and the shared heritage that binds them together. Whether you're on the hunt for a vintage piece to adorn your home or simply soaking in the vibrant atmosphere, Yerevan's bazaars invite you to be a part of a living, breathing mosaic of culture and commerce.
Published on December 05, 2023