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Armenia: Yerevan Cascade

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Yerevan Cascade | Armenia | Asia

[Visited: May 2012]

We had arrived late the night before, and I was so curious to see Yerevan that I woke up before sunrise. The sky was clear: it promised to be a beautiful day. The streets were empty - life does not start very early in Armenia. I walked towards the Matenadaran, which of course was still closed, and found a small street leading directly to the Cascade. When I reached the white stairway, I was struck by the view: below me, the Armenian capital stretched out, while in the distance, I could see snow-covered Mount Ararat, the mountain with not only biblical significance, but also a place with almost mythical proportions for the Armenians. Once intended to commemorate 50 years of Soviet rule, construction was stopped as the Soviet Union disintegrated in the early 1990s.

Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): A group of three divers, a work of art by Martin Weller, can be found on the higher level of the Cascade

Originally, the Cascade was supposed to be a giant, artificial waterfall; now, it is a giant stairway linking the city with the upper district and the Victory Park in which the huge Mother Armenia statue overlooks the city. When I entered the enormous, white stairwell, I was at one of the higher levels. A few people were using the Cascade as a workout option, running up and down the stairs on the 200m high hill. There is an elevator as well - but with the views you can have outside, who wants to use it? The sun had started to cast her rays on the white surface, and where it had been chilly before, the temperature rose quickly. First, I climbed to the top of the Cascade, where I saw that even after the Cafesjian Foundation had taken over the Cascade in the early 2000s to turn it into a museum complex, construction has been stopped and the Cascade is still not finished.

Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Jaume Plensa created this sculpture at the foot of the Cascade

Turning around gave me a fantastic view over the city and that inevitable Mount Ararat in the distance. I walked down, saw a small pool with silvery statues of three divers reflected in the completely quiet waters, when I came back a little later, a guard had closed access. I walked down the different levels, exploring each level with a terrace, works of art, and different views of the city. When I finally reached the bottom of the Cascade, I reached Tamanian Sculpture Park, an extension of the Cascade complex. More sculptures here: a fat cat by Botero, jumping impalas, several sculptures by Chadwick, Plensa, and others; different styles, but all with the Cascade rising above the park. At the far side of the park, a statue of Tamanian, is a less abstract work of art in commemoration of the important Armenian architect. I looked back, up to the Cascade, where more people were now walking, and realized this modern part of Yerevan was a rather peculiar introduction to the old nation of Armenia.

Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia):
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Two hares performing an acrobatic act, bronze by Barry Flanagan
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Jumping impalas: bronze sculpture at the foot of the Cascade
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Stairs, sculpted by Lynn Chadwick, at the foot of the Cascade
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Sitting forms, bronze by Lynn Chadwick in the small park at the foot of the Cascade
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): View of the Cascade from the small park right below it
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Fat cat, vintage Botero bronze at the foot of the Cascade
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): A group of three divers, standing over a small pool in the Cascade
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): View of Mount Ararat, with modern khachkars and the city of Yerevan
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): The Visitor, bronze sculpted by David Breuer-Weil, specially made for the opening of the Cafesjian Center for the Arts
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Detail of the Cascade complex
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Sculptures of Carp and The Visitor in the Cafesjian Center for the Arts at the Cascade
Picture of Yerevan Cascade (Armenia): Façade of the Cafesjian Center for the Arts

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