Mother Armenia Monument and Yerevan Military Museum
The Yerevan Military Museum inside the Mother Armenia Monument is not very big but the exhibitions are definitely interesting. The Soviet era exhibition about the Great Patriotic War has been moved to the basement to make place form more recent military history. The main floor is now dedicated to the Artsakh Liberation War as the Armenians call the Nagorno-Karabakh that lasted from 1988 to 1994. The museum also displays military equipment around the monument.
Victory Park inside the Mother Armenia monument
Daily from 10.00 - 17:00 except Mondays
Victory Park and the Mother Armenia Monument
The Military Museum is located in Victory Park and easy to reach from the City Centre. The Cascade leads to the entrance of Victory Park, from where it is another 10 minute walk to the Mother Armenia Monument. The view on Yerevan is great, Soviet era monuments and the Children’s Cafe are also found in the Park. Luna Park, the local fun fair combining Soviet era with attractions more modern rides is located close to the Mother Armenia monument.
The Museum History
Victory Park was built in 1950 to commemorate the Soviet victory over the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War. Mother Armenia replaced a giant Stalin Statue in 1962 when Stalin was denounced by Khrushchev. Every year on 9 May, thousands of Armenians visit the statue of Mother Armenia and lay flowers to commemorate the Armenian martyrs of World War II. The Museum in the Pedestal of the Monument was opened in 1970 around the theme of "Armenia in the Great Patriotic War in 1941-1945". In 1995 it was renamed "Mother Armenia" Military Museum of the Ministry of Defence of RA.
The ground floor of the Military Museum is named "Artsakh Liberation War in 1988-1994" and dedicated to the War in Nagorno-Karabakh. This mountainous area had been populated with Armenians for centuries but was given to the Azerbaijan SSR by Stalin. Documents suggest that Stalin only redrawn the Republic map of Armenia and Azerbaijan a day before the official decision was made. The Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh started a guerrilla war for unification with Armenia in 1988 when it was clear that the USSR would disappear.
The exhibition mainly exists of display boxes that each focus on a different battle. Most exhibits are photos and personal belongings of Armenian soldiers and rebels that fought and died in the war. There are also many maps including a large map with all the battles. Some weapons like knives, hand grenades and rocket launcher that were use in the war are on display. The highlight is a diorama of the battle for Sushi, the most import battle of the war where Armenian Tanks fought an uphill battle to capture Sushi. All the writing is in Armenian so it is difficult to fully understand what is exactly displayed.
Heroes of Armenia
One area of the main floor exhibition is dedicated to the National Heroes of Armenia and Artsakh. Armenia awards the highest title of the country since 1994 following the Soviet title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Sixteen people have received the order, each honoured with a portrait in the museum. The first person to receive the order was Vazgen I the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church between 1955 and 1994. Other famous recipients are the chanson singer and native Armenian Charles Aznavour, Las Vegas billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and Vazgen Sargsyan the Armenian president who was assassinated in the Armenian Parliament in 1999. Monte Melkonian is probably the most revered Hero, both in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. American born Melkonian got his training fighting Israel in Lebanon and organising the opposition against the Shah in Iran. He took part in the assassinations of several Turkish diplomats in Europe during the early to mid-1980s and was later arrested and sent to prison in France. Melkonian commanded 4.000 men in the Karabakh war and died a heroes death in 1993.
World War II Exhibition
The "Participation of the Armenians in World War II" exhibition was moved to the basement when the Nagorno-Karabakh War was promoted to the most important military event in 1994. We had to ask the ladies form the museum staff if we could decent to see the exhibition. One lady walked ahead of us to switch the lights on in the room we entered en the lights off in the previous room. Visitors pay no entrance for the museum and there is clearly a cash shortage, so do visit the museum and make a donation when you are in Yerevan. The exhibition kept its 1970s format and is still quintessential Soviet, lets hope it will stay like this for a long time. Famous Armenian generals who were awarded the Heroe of the Soviet Union title including Baghramyan, Isakov, Babadjanyan and Khamperyants are honoured.
The Outdoor Exhibition is located around the monument so can be visited any time of the day. The exhibition includes Soviet military hardware dating from World War II to the 1980s. The museum entrance is guarded by two ZiS-2 57mm anti tank guns from World War II. The two most famous Soviet weapons of World War II, the T-34 tank and Katyusha Rocket launcher are present as expected.
Also present are a BTR-152 armoured personnel carrier used from 1950 to 1993 and a BMP-1 amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle, that was produced between 1966 and 1982. There is one aircraft on display; a MiG-19, the first Soviet production aircraft capable of supersonic speeds in level flight. The most recent item is the S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missile, the most widely-deployed air defense missile in history.