Yerevan: 12th World Book Capital


By Rima Khalatyan

Education and books have always been essential in every Armenian’s life. According to witnesses, wherever possive, the survivors of Armenian Genocide would take with them books, rather than other possessions. Thus they rescued hundreds of manuscripts and with this, the Armenian script. It is not an accident that Arabs dubbed Armenia a “land of books”, because when theyconquered Armenia, they saw thousands of books, and witnessed the love of people towards these books.

The biggest event of this year was the crowning of the capital of Armenia-Yerevan – as the 12th World Book Capital. The fact that Armenia’s 12th capital has become also the 12th World Book Capital in 2012 is quite inspiring. The Great Britain and China were the two other contenders. The fact that Armenia is celebrating the 500th anniversary of print in Armenian has contributed to the victory of Armenia as well.

On April 22 Yerevan was officially declared the World Book Capital 2012.The grand opening ceremony took place at Matenadaran, the museum of ancient manuscripts, where the Mayor of World Book Capital 2011 Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri presenting the title to Yerevan’s Mayor Taron Margaryan. A statue of a climbing man in the design of different letters of 19 alphabets was installed on Mashtots Avenue in Yerevan. The event featured Argentine tango dancers, Armenia’s national dance ensemble, and a national dance group from Bangkok, which will take over the Book Capital title in 2013.

Festivities dedicated to the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Armenian print complement this event. Delegations from more than 30 countries of the world and more than 50 honorary guests from all over the world arrived to Armenia to participate in these events.  

Within the scope of the programYerevan: The world book capital 2012 in the National History Museum features an exhibition An eternity of writing. For the  first time ever the exhibition jointly presents seventeen exhibits from the Museum of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, fifteen exhibits from the History museum, thirty-seven manuscripts from the Matenadaran, thirty-four early-prints from the National library. The archeological, lithographic and documental valuables comprehensively demonstrate the various aspects of the national culture and its peculiarity.   

One hundred and three exhibits present the history of formation of the Armenian writing: the original sources of writing (prewriting period – from B.C. 3rd millennium to the 9th century), Urartian writing (Urartian period – from B.C. 9th century to the 6th century), pre-Mashtots period (from B.C. 6th century to 301 – converting to Christianity), the invention of letters (from 405 to the 8th century, models of early Armenian letters), the kinds of letters (models of the earliest letters), manuscripts and miniature painting (manuscripts from 9-15 centuries), the beginning of printing (the beginning of Armenian print, the first printed books, 1512-1699), early printed Armenian books (metallic double book-covers, 1700-1799 and 1800-1899).

More eevents dedicated to books were organized in early summer. An Open-Air Reading Festival was held at the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden on June 21.  Here Donate a Book campaign took place, during which people had an opportunity to donate books to libraries in need, especially near the borders. Then a massive open air reading and a concert marking the opening of the Festival started.

Within the framework of Yerevan – the 2012 World Book Capital and the 500th Anniversary of Armenian Print, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts co-organized a three-day Book Festival. In keeping with its mission by supporting such important initiatives, the Cafesjian Center for the Arts continues its efforts to present the best aspects of world and Armenian culture, which, in this case is the Book.

Yerevan: 12th World Book Capital”… This is atitle that has made us  feel closer to the book. The book exhibitions, fairs and  donations make the connection between people and book tighter. Today we can walk in the parks and gardens of Yerevan and see people of different ages reading in the open air.

This event also gives an opportunity to Armenia to show a new image to the international community. Today Armenia is regarded a country which glorifies literacy and books. The events which are organized abroad are a great chance for foreigners to get acquainted with Armenian books and literature.

It is indeed encouraging that in the framework of this program new bookstores and temporary open air book fairs will open in Yerevan, and the book will become more visible for everyone. Taking into consideration the fact that today it is much easier to search and find a book on the web and that the youth spend much time on computers and TV, discussions will be organized to discuss the relations between books, students and libraries.

The message we can take from these events is to continue reading and to teach our children to love and read books. With the book you can transport to another world, you can develop your imagination, enlarge your world view and finally travel and fly without wings. Without a country rich in resources we should have a society that is  rich in knowledge and intelligence. This is our  salvation, our future, our bread and water. In Armenia celebration of the book can’t start and end in a framework of a single program. The book is with us every single day, in every season. Here we are! Armenians! A nation that had no statehood for centuries, but has managed to live on with the help of its, language and faith.

Yerevan will hold the title of World Book Capital till April 23 2013. The date is not random: April 23 is celebrated as the World Book and Copyright Day. On this day a closing ceremony will take place and the title of World Book Capital will be transferred to Bangkok.

Yerevan crowned as World Book Capital, http://www.panarmenian.net/eng/news/104227/

Gohar Abrahamyan,  An exclusive exhibition in the RA History museum, http://www.kamartert.am/index.php?lng=eng&include=static&page_id=86

An Open-air Reading Festival will be held at the Cafesjian Sculpture Garden, http://www.cmf.am/An-Open-air-Reading-Festival-will-be-held-at-the-Cafesjian-Sculpture-Garden



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