Monday, July 04, 2005

Up in Vanadzor

Garo, AKA Christian Garbis, has just blogged about his frequent visits to Vanadzor, the third largest city in the Republic of Armenia that was also hit by the 1988 earthquake and which seems to have been forgotten by many people here as well as in the Diaspora who pay more attention to Yerevan, Gyumri and Spitak. Nevertheless, despite the problems, it is a nice city although of course, there are still a sizeable number of IDPs living in domiks (temporary metal containers) although not as many as there used to be.
Vanadzor is located in the Lori region, about 110 kilometers north of Yerevan, and is the third largest city in Armenia, Gyumri being the second largest. The name of the city was changed not surprisingly shortly after Armenia’s sovietization to Kirovakan, after Sergei Kirov, who was a Bolshevik revolutionary and as a Red Army soldier helped defeat the anti-Bolshevik forces in the South Caucasus back in 1920. The name was changed back to Vanadzor after independence, although the city is mainly known as Kirovakan, and people from the city are referred to as “Kirovakantsi.” There are two ways to get there from Yerevan: by way of Aparan, which is shorter, or through Dilijan via Sevan. The scenery along the latter route is spectacular to say the least, especially around Dilijan.
Anyway, despite the problems, I do like Vanadzor and have been up recently to take photographs of the Integrated Social Services Center (ISSC), to look at a model kindergarten, to visit Molokan villages outside of the city proper, and last weekend I even accompanied the kids from the Vanadzor Children's Home to Water World in Yerevan. Some things are happening up there but even so, I haven't been frequently enough to really say. Certainly, I haven't spent more than a few hours in the city which is why I'm grateful to Garo for his account.

Even so, it's always interesting for me at least to remember that Vanadzor is considered a center for human rights and contemporary popular music which means, of course, I should really go and spend more time there. Anyway, Garo's post on Vanadzor can be read online here.

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