Perhaps, the very thought of hunting for souvenirs that would please your family members and friends is overwhelming, especially if you’re a ”vagabond” type of a traveler keen on collecting experiences not things. After all, in a newly explored land, you reckon to spend the precious time sightseeing and hiking rather than going on a buying spree! But let’s look at the whole souvenir shopping experience from a different angle: wandering along local fleas, bazaars, open air markets and handmade souvenir shops is an exciting way to glimpse into local life.
So, what to bring home from your trip to Armenia as a souvenir and gift to your dear ones? It’s an easy question to answer once you know what has Armenia been famous for over centuries – brandy, dried fruit (especially Armenian apricots), carpets and jewelry. And this is not the full list of souvenir suggestions, indeed.
As an emerging tourist destination, shopping venues are spotted across places of interest in Armenia, but the major flea markets and souvenir shops are flocked in the capital Yerevan. Here are a couple of suggestions for your shopping tour:
Armenian artisans have long been praised for their mastership and creativity. Exploring Arts and Crafts Vernissage, the open-air market in downtown Yerevan, you’ll find the proof of it in every step. In this colorful fiesta of unique clay pottery paintings, embroideries, wood and stone carvings, carpets and traditional khachkars (cross-stones), silver jewelry and many more jaw-droppingly beautiful items you will often be faced a dilemma: is it a work of craft or art? Vernissage has an unrivalled collection of works made of obsidian – glass stone widely used by Armenian craftsmen to create earrings and necklaces, vases and even writing sets!
Everything for every taste and budget – it’s the slogan of the Vernissage- whether you want to buy an exclusive silver jewelry for your sweetheart or nice wooden pomegranates (one of symbols of Armenia) for colleagues.
While haggling with the merchants or craftsmen themselves over the price of an item, you’ll have another exciting experience of socializing with the locals. A caveat: schedule your souvenir shopping at Vernissage only on week-ends, as the assortment during the week is scarce.
Cafesjian Museum for the Arts, Museum Store
Cafesjian Center for the Arts – ”Cascade” (as locals call it because of the cascade-like design of the monument) is one of the must-see venues in Yerevan, especially if you’re a modern art lover. You can combine an idle stroll in the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden (“Cascade” park) with a visit to Museum Store of the Cafesjian Center for the Arts located on the first floor of the Museum (which is worthwhile seeing, too). Along with sophisticated designer works, books, pop-art pieces and ceramics, here you can buy an original piece of Armenian arts and crafts – handmade dolls, unique jewelry, national symbolic and wooden hanging ornaments, home decors, and much more. If your schedule is tight but you still want to grab a souvenir or two home, you can shop your preferred items online and have them delivered to any country across the globe.
Dalan Art Gallery
Located at the Abovyan street, the oldest in Yerevan, Dalan (which means “a passage between a building and the street”) is one of the coziest and tourist-friendly stores to purchase a souvenir at various price ranges. Dalan especially boasts a collection of handmade items and jewelry – amazing gifts made by Armenian masters for your family and friends. Magnets with images of Ararat, Yerevan, khachkars, pomegranates, grapes are the minimalist souvenir choices that can fit in any budget. By the way, you can follow up your shopping tour in the outdoor coffee shop located right in the green backyard of Dalan.
As for famous Armenian brandy and delicious dried apricots, they are widely available in Yerevan supermarkets.
What souvenir did you choose while traveling in Armenia? If you have any original suggestions, feel free to share them on the comment section below!
Author: Sirvard Amatuni
Images by: Ayas Tour