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Armenians in Tbilisi

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Armenians in Tbilisi

View of Tiflis by a prominent Russian-Armenian artist Ivan Aivazovsky, 1868

The [1]

Tbilisi or Tiflis (as most Armenians call it) was the center of cultural life of Armenians in the Russian Empire from early 19th century to early 20th century.

History

The Armenian history and contribution to the capital city of Tbilisi (known as Tiflis in Armenian, Russian, Persian, Azeri and Turkish) is significant. After the Russian conquest of the area, Armenians fleeing persecution in the Ottoman Empire and Persia caused a jump in the Armenian population until it reached about 40% of the city total. Many of the mayors and business class were Armenian, and much of the old city was built by Armenians. Until recently the neighborhoods of Havlabar and the area across the river were very heavily Armenian, but that has changed a great deal in the last two decades.

An Armenian community has been known to have existed in Tbilisi since at least the 7th century, however a large Armenian community was not formed until the Late Middle Ages.[2] By the late Middle Ages, there were some 24 Armenian churches and monasteries in and around the city.[2] According to Tournefort, Armenians constituted three-quarters of the population of Tiflis in the 18th century, and owned 24 churches.[3]

Under the Russian Empire, the city of Tiflis became the center of Russian rule for the whole viceroyalty of Caucasia. During the 19th century, Tiflis became the center of the Eastern Armenian cultural revival and an Armenian cultural hub second only to Constantinople.[2]

Until recently, the neighborhoods of Avlabari (Havlabar) and the area across the river were very heavily Armenian. The older Armenian neighborhood of Tbilisi, on both sides of the river between Freedom Square and Havlabar carry Armenian names, including Tumanyan, Abovian, Akopian, Alikhanian, Sundukian, Yerevan, Ararat and Sevan.

The Diocese Church (the Sayat-Nova. In Havlabar, the other Armenian Church of Echmiadzin is undergoing renovation and reconstruction. The Armenian Pantheon of Tbilisi has the tombs of many famous Armenians including writers Hovhannes Tumanyan and Raffi.

Armenian sites

Churches

According to Tournefort, Armenians constituted three-quarters of the population of Tiflis in the 18th century, and owned 24 churches.[3] Ten of the churches were destroyed in the 1930s, and as of 1979, fourteen were still standing.[4]

There are still two working Armenian Churches in the city, and an Armenian Theatre. The Armenian Pantheon, where prominent Armenians are buried has the tombs of some of Armenian's favorite personalities ever, including Raffi and Hovhannes Tumanyan. The adjacent Armenian cemetery was taken over by the Georgian Church and their new national cathedral was built upon it. The remaining space in between the Pantheon and the new Georgian cathedral is now the construction site of what appears to be a Georgian Seminary. Again, the Armenian tombs here are being ignored, and human bones are being moved around like dirt.

A number of Armenian churches have been confiscated by the Soviet state and then passed to the Georgian Church in the post-Soviet era. According to the United States [5]

Petros Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre

Pedros Adamian Armenian Theatre

Petros Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre was established in 1858 by the Armenian theatre figure George Chmshkian. The first staging was "Adji Suleyman" performance. From 1922 through 1936 before building of the new current theatre building the theatres name was "Artistic theatre". In 1936 was built a new theatre building which was named Stepan Shahumian Armenian Theatre, after Bolshevik Stepan Shahumian. The first performance was Mkrtich (Nikita) Djanan's performance "Shahname". Here worked Petros Adamian, Siranoush (Merobe Kantarjian), Vahram Papazian, Hovhannes Abelian, Olga Maysourian, Isaac Alikhanian, Mariam Mojorian, Artem and Maria Beroians, Artem Lusinian, Babken Nersesian, Darius Amirbekian, Ashot Kadjvorian, Emma Stepanian, Armenian directors: Arshak Bourdjalian, Leon Kalantar, Stepan Kapanakian, Alexander Abarian, Ferdinand Bzhikian, Hayk Umikian, Mickael Grigorian, Ivan Karapetian, Roman Chaltikian, Roman Matiashvili, Robert Yegian. Music for theatres often was written by Aram Khachaturian, Armen Tigranian, Alexander Spendiarian, and others.

Nowadays Peter Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre is the main spiritual and public center of Georgian-Armenian community.[6]

Nersisyan School

Freedom Square

Once formally known as Paskevich Yerevanski Square, then Lenin Square, it was commonly called Yerevan Square. Ivan Paskevich was a Russian general and was called Paskevich of Yerevan (Yerevanski) in honor of his taking of Yerevan for the Russian Empire. Abutting the north side of Freedom Square is a small open space with a fountain. Buried between the bust of Pushkin and the fountain is the Bolshevik revolutionary Kamo (Simon Ter-Petrossian). His grave has been paved over and is unmarked.

Armenian Street Names

The heavily Armenian old neighborhoods of Tbilisi still have many Armenian street names, though some have been changed over time. Leselidze Street was once called Armenian Bazaar Street.

Vera cemetery

Vera cemetery was used by local Armenians before the Soviet takeover. Now its used by Georgians.

Notable Armenians from Tbilisi

Pre-Revolution

Soviet era

Post-Soviet

See also

References

  1. ^ ETHNIC GROUPS BY MAJOR ADMINISTRATIVE-TERRITORIAL UNITS Statistics Georgia
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^ U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report 2005
  6. ^ http://amtheater.gq.nu
  7. ^
  8. ^
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