It is impossible to think that a tourist would visit Armenia and not find Yerevan’s “vernissage” open market, shopping mall, bazaar and all-around cultural curiosity center. “Vernissage” derives from French word meaning a private showing held before the opening of an art exhibition. It has entered the parlance of Yerevan since the late 1970s. Originally this word represented the inauguration of a temporary exhibition. However, the Vernissage has been proven to be one of the most important and constant elements of the cultural life of Yerevan. Yerevan’s Vernissage was established in the 1980s by Armenian artists who wanted to bring fruits of their labor directly to the people.
The Paintings Vernissage is located by the Saryan statue at French Square, and Arts and Crafts Vernissage starts by the Republic Square metro station and runs all the way to Khanjian Street. During the weekends, the lawns in Saryan park disappear under rows of paintings, while people wander the corridors between them, appreciating and purchasing the high-quality artistic creations.
Yerevan has no shortage of gift shops, but if you ask any resident where you can purchase Armenian souvenirs, the first answer will be “vernissage”. Two days are hardly enough for taking in everything there.
Each Saturday and Sunday, beginning at about 10 a.m. and continuing till early evening, Vernissage is home to hundreds of artists, craftsmen, jewelers, stone cutters, seamstresses, potters. For sure, it is the second home for a number of people working there, as they are not pursuing only material gains but they enjoy spiritual pleasures as well.