Vernissage Souvenir Market, Yerevan
If you’re looking to buy gifts and mementos in Armenia, Vernissage Souvenir Market is the place to go!
Vernissage (Armenian: Վերնիսաժ) is a large local market in Yerevan located at Northern Avenue 6/2, just 500 meters from the Republic Square subway station. The name of the open-air market comes from the French word vernissage, meaning “art exhibition venue”. This flamboyant market displays a huge assortment of Armenian and international carpets, handmade clothing, souvenirs, paintings, old coin collections, books, silver jewelry, musical instruments, household items and other odds and ends that are reflective of Armenia and its people. Although most items are local, you can also find Soviet-era relics from across the former USSR.
Vernissage was formed in the 1980s when local artists began to display their works in the plaza adjoining present-day Charles Aznavour Square and at the park near Komitas State Conservatory. In later years, as this spontaneously-formed "vernissage" began to gain momentum, it was relocated to the opera house grounds. As the market continued to expand, it was moved yet again to Aram and Buzand Streets. Currently, it sprawls across 350 meters between Hanrapetutyun and Khanjyan Streets. In 2016, the government implemented a program to modernize and renovate Vernissage in order to make it more presentable and convenient for the public.
Some of the stalls are open on weekdays, but for the full experience we suggest visiting Vernissage on weekends when it is packed with vendors. Although it is officially open from 10 am until 6 pm, some of the shops remain open until late evening.
When shopping at Vernissage Souvenir Market, remember the #1 rule at bazaars: always bargain! Haggling for an acceptable price for both buyer and seller is an important ritual at such markets, and thus you should never purchase anything at the price the seller first suggests. A good rule of thumb is to give a counteroffer that is lower than you expect to pay, from which you and the seller can agree on a final price somewhere in between the original low and high offers.
Vernissage is not only one of the best places for shopping in Yerevan, but also essentially a small museum representing the works of local artists and craftsmen. An experience in itself, Vernissage is sure to add a splash of color to your Armenia tour.