Nargile and books: the connection?

Do you know there is an old bookshop in Yerevan that originally used to be a cigarette shop? Here is a story from Lilly Minasyan, one of the most loyal followers of Streets of Yerevan. Lilly is a runner and belongs to the group of people who are obsessed with books and everything connected with them. Bookstores and libraries in Yerevan are sacred place for her, where she connects with books, can touch and smell them. And, here is her story of how she discovered this particular shop in Yerevan.

Author: Lilly Minasyan
Photos: Anna Khachatryan

Many times I saw this particular bookstore located at the intersection of Mashtots Ave. and Sarmen Street downtown Yerevan. I would pass it daily and each time I would tell myself that tomorrow will be the day that I will go inside and see what they have. Since I can be a good procrastinator a few days passed, then followed by weeks, thank God not years! One day I needed a bookmark, since the bookstore didn’t look new, I thought that they might have interesting bookmarks. From outside, the bookstore itself doesn’t look anything special.

View of Bookstore in Yerevan
View of the Bookstore (Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan).

The moment I came inside, I was shocked to see that this bookstore wasn’t like anything I had ever seen. I was transfixed with the beauty, the unique furniture, the old books, that pleasant smell and employees, who were so kind.

Books Yerevan
How the bookstore looks from inside.

I was blown away with everything; it was too much to comprehend. I think I couldn’t imagine that I would see anything like that in Yerevan. This was a whole new world to me. I was looking around and trying to take as much as I could. Then when the employee saw how mesmerized I was he told me the unofficial story of this bookstore:

This was first a place where one could buy tobacco back in 1936. The whole furniture was built and designed by Hovhannes Naghashyan. There was even a designated armchair, where people would come and smoke nargile.

nargile armchair Yerevan
The armchair where people would seat to smoke.

Well, you cannot seat on the armchair and smoke, but can seat and look at the second to none ceiling, the uncommon lamp and daydream. The employees would only be happy to see their customers enjoying the zen moment inside their shop.

interior of the bookstore
Interior of the bookstore.

The employee, who you could tell was as much into books as I was, proceeded to tell me that around the 1950’s the place became a store which sold musical notes and only in 1987 became a bookstore.

By the way the bookstore is open from 10:00-18:00, every day, except on Sundays. The books are very affordable; you could find both old and new books about Armenia and not only, and different types of vintage postcards.

vintage postcards and books

Books Yerevan

This isn’t just any other bookstore, if you want to feel the spirit old Yerevan; this is the place to visit. I can write all day long about how beautiful and unique this place is, but I want you to go and see it with your own eyes.

Leave a comment and let us know, if you had any such experiences with bookstores, which took your breath away. If by any chance you visit this bookstore and buy a book or two, I would love to know what you got.



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