Rediscovering the past, reinventing the present
The millennia rich cultural and spiritual heritage of Armenia is the legacy Armenians around the world live with today. Centuries-old unique architectural monuments and churches, rich collections of illuminated manuscripts and libraries of ancient and modern literature, soulful music and inspiring liturgical tradition, characteristically Armenian khachkars (or cross-bearing carved memorials) and delicate handicrafts are some of the timeless creations and national values that have been passed down through generations. This rich Armenian heritage has survived centuries of peril, wars, physical destruction and virtual annihilation.
Throughout 3000 years of its history Yerevan has undergone many changes. In the early 20th century renowned architect Tamanyan created a new vision for the city of few hundred thousand inhabitants. In the years following the World War II, the city saw rapid expansion and gradual concentration of Armenia’s population in the capital. The harmonious boundaries of the city expanded, transforming it into a megapolis of over a million inhabitants.
It is said that Armenia is an open-air museum. Its landscape is dotted with a vast number of spectacular architectural masterpieces that our prolific nation has created throughout the centuries. Currently this architectural heritage is at peril of being obliterated, deformed or lost forever.
Today, despite some social and economic hardships and challenges in Armenia, cultural and spiritual values must be preserved, nurtured and flourished in the present generation and passed on to future generations. Indeed, this irreplaceable source of inspiration and national life needs to be rediscovered and reinvented.
We called the heritage-led social and urban regeneration project Yerevan-My-Love because every Armenian has a special place for their beloved capital city.
The Yerevan- My-Love project aims to safeguard and restore parts of historic districts of Yerevan and to coordinate efforts of saving the artistic and architectural heritage of this beautiful city, its traditions and neighbourhoods. Historic buildings will be restored and adapted for new and vibrant use.
While preserving the authentic architectural heritage of the city, the most important aspect of Yerevan-My-Love is our focus on the children and youth of the city, especially orphans and those from socially and economically deprived communities. The restored historical buildings will be put to use for programs that have high social impact.
Indeed, what makes Yerevan-My-Love unique is its innovative approach to combine heritage-led architectural and urban development with people-centred revitalisation. Improving the life experience of disadvantaged children and young people with social or physical disabilities and integrating them into society is at the heart of Yerevan-My-Love. It is our hope that this will be the start of a movement in Armenia.
Dr Armen Sarkissian
Chairman, Yerevan My Love Charitable Foundation