Before my first visit to Armenia, the only thing I knew about the city was Yerevan Cascade. It’s funny to think about it now as after all these years and numerous visits Yerevan is in the very top of my favorite places and I try to return there frequently.
And no visit is completed without going to the Cascade Yerevan complex. It’s usually one of the first places I go to! Looking at the city from the top of the Cascade in one of my favorite things to do in Yerevan.
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What is Yerevan Cascade?
In short, the Yerevan Cascade is a giant staircase located in the center of the city and it is one of the main tourist attractions in Yerevan. The massive structure connects the city center with the upper parts of Yerevan: Victory Park, Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytun.
There are 572 steps on the Cascade and the total elevation change from the bottom of the staircase to the top – to the Memorial of the 50th anniversary of Soviet Armenia, is 118 meters. This is one of the most impressive buildings you will see in Yerevan and a great example of Soviet architecture in Yerevan!
History of the Cascade
The first idea to build the Cascade appeared already in the 1920s when Alexander Tamanyan designed the city. This famous Armenian architect, the creator of the modern look of Yerevan, wanted to connect the center with its cultural and administrative institutions with the upper residential areas through the green parts with gardens and waterfalls.
Unfortunately, other projects were more important at that time and this idea was forgotten until the 1970s when the construction of the Cascade complex started in 1971. The structure was designed by architects Sargis Gurzadyan, Jim Torosyan, and Aslan Mkhitaryan and works finished in 1980.
The second phase and the renovation took place between 2000 and 2009, that also when the Cascade complex was handed over to Gerard Cafesjian – the American-Armenian philanthropist and art collector.
The remaining part, from the top of the Cascade to the Memorial of the 50th anniversary of Soviet Armenia is yet to be built but since my first visit in 2012, it doesn’t look like any progress is made there.
Inside the Cascade complex, you will find Cafesjian Center for the Arts – it was established in 2009 and is one of the most popular museums in Yerevan.
How to get to the Cascade in Yerevan?
The Yerevan Cascade is located in the northern part of the city center, not far from the Opera, at Tamanyan street.
Even if the Cascade is in a straight line from the Opera you need to go around to get there as there is no street crossing at Moskovyan street in front of the Cascade complex. You will find the nearest crossings at the corners of Moskovyan street and Marshal Baghramyan Avenue and Moskovyan street with Mesrop Mashtots Avenue.
The nearest metro stations are Yeritasardakan (650 meters) and Marshal Baghramyan (1 kilometer). Republic Square is 1,6 kilometer away from the Cascade.
To get to the top of the Cascade you might walk up all the 572 stairs but it can get tiring, especially on a warm and sunny day.
Fortunately, inside the Cascade, you will find the escalator that will take you all the way to the second to last level. The ride is free of charge and along the way you can admire some modern artworks. The entrance is on your left side when looking at the Cascade.
You might also take the taxi and go all the way to the Memorial of the 50th anniversary of Soviet Armenia and then walk down from the Cascades. Yandex Taxi from the Republic Square should cost around 700 AMD.
What to see at the Cascade?
The main attraction of the Cascade is, without doubt, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts. You can find there over 5 000 works, mainly from the collection of Gerard Cafesjian, making it the best modern art museum in Yerevan.
Only part of the collection is located in the ticketed museum, numerous works are strewn around all over the Cascades – you will find them when riding the escalator, when walking down the stairs or in the park at the foot of the complex.
You can see here works by some of the world-famous artists, such as Fernando Botero (I’ve seen his works before in Vaduz, Liechtenstein), Arshile Gorky, Lynn Chadwick, Jaume Plensa or Barry Flanagan.
If you like modern art you should definitely visit the exhibition inside the Cascade complex, the ticket costs 1,000 AMD. But even if you are not too crazy about this kind of art expression I’m sure you will appreciate all the great works you can admire when visiting Cascade.
But the main reason to visit Cascade is not the Cafesjian Center for the Arts (although it is great).
From the upper parts of the complex, you can admire the amazing view of the city, probably the best one you will find in Yerevan.
You can see from here some of the most important Yerevan attractions: right in front of you there is the Opera, on the right side you can notice the distinctive building of Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concerts Complex and the high stele from the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex. When you look carefully you might even find the Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in the central part of the city.
However, the best thing you can see from here is the iconic Mount Ararat – the holy mountain of Armenians. Due to the political and historical turbulences, it is currently located in Turkey but you will still get the best view of it from the Cascade in Yerevan.
Just don’t get your hopes high, it’s a very moody mountain and even if it is only around 50 kilometers away often you can’t see it at all. But if it is visible the view is spectacular!
At the entrance to the Cascade park, in front of Moskovyan street, you can see the monument of Alexander Tamanyan, the famous architect of Yerevan. Take a look especially at its lower right corner where you will see the map of Yerevan he planned – you can see how carefully designed city it is, with a very modern and practical look for that time (the 1920s).
You can find another, bigger map of Tamanyan’s vision on the city hall’s wall at 1 Argishti St near Republic Square.
The Cascade area is also a very popular hangout spot for both, locals and tourists. You will find here numerous restaurants and cafes and, although a bit expensive, they offer some excellent drinking and dining options.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants on both sides of the Cascade park, as well as on the perpendicular Isahakyan street. You can choose mostly from international cuisine from the Middle East, Asia, Mexico and more.
Cascade opening hours
The outdoor part of the Cascade complex and the park are open 24/7 so you can come here whenever you want to.
The indoor escalator works every day from 8:00 to 20:00. Exhibition Galleries, Museum Store and Visitor Center are open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between 10:00 and 20:00.
The indoor part is closed on the state holidays (when I was there in the New Year’s period it was closed until the 3rd of January).
You can find more details at the website of the Cafesjian Center for the Arts.
What to see near the Cascade?
You might want to combine visiting the Cascade with other interesting Yerevan sights nearby. Once you are on top of the Cascade you can continue climbing up, past the Memorial of the 50th anniversary of Soviet Armenia to get to the Victory Park with Mother Armenia statue.
From the upper side, you might go via the small footbridge on the right (when looking at the Cascade) via Antarain Street to Matenadaran – the fascinating museum of manuscripts.
You might also continue in the other direction, pass the National Assembly on Marshal Baghramyan Avenue and visit Lovers’ Park – one of the most pleasant parks in Yerevan.
Where to stay near Yerevan Cascade?
Yerevan Cascade is located in the central part of the city and you can find the accommodation in close proximity to the complex. Here are some of the recommended places to stay near the Cascade in Yerevan:
- Budget: Apri Hostel (9,5/10 on Booking)
- Mid-range: Studio Boutique Hotel (9,4/10 on Booking)
- Luxury: Opera Suite Hotel (9,0/10 on Booking)
Pictures of the Cascade in Yerevan
Below are a few more pictures of the Cascade to show you how interesting place it is.
I wrote a few more articles about Yerevan and Armenia, to help you plan your trip to this great country. You might want to read these articles next:
- 31 Amazing Things to Do in Yerevan, Armenia
- Yerevan travel tips – all you need to know about visiting Yerevan, Armenia
- Guide to Yerevan Soviet architecture
- 18 Amazing Places to Visit in Armenia
- The best hotels in Yerevan – luxury, mid-range and budget accommodation
- and many more!
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