Tsitsernakaberd (Armenian: Ծիծեռնակաբերդ, Russian: Цицернакабéрд) is a memorial dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide; it is located on a hill overlooking Yerevan, Armenia. Every year on April 24, hundreds of thousands of Armenians gather here to remember the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide that took place in the Ottoman Empire carried out by the Turkish government.
Ծիծեռնակաբերդ (Swallow's fortress) is an agglutinative compound noun in Armenian composed of the roots ծիծեռնակ (swallow) and բերդ (fortress) with the agglutinating infix <ա>.
History of the Site
The memorial sits on one of three hills along the Hrazdan River that carry the name Tsitsernakaberd, and was the site of what was once an Iron Age fortress. Most of the above ground traces at this peak have since disappeared, but upon the smaller hill are still traces of a castle. Archaeological surveys took place in 2007, and excavations uncovered a wall that is hundreds of meters long and may still be seen in many places above ground. An alter cut from stone sits in the middle of a square at the edge of one of the hills, and large stones that weigh approximately two tons are still visible that cover graves from the second millennium BC. Apartments were later built along the hills during Roman times, and were built over with other structures during medieval years. Nearby are also the remains of a very large building with a cave.
Construction of the memorial began in 1966 (during Soviet times) in response to the 1965 Yerevan demonstrations during which one million people demonstrated in Yerevan for 24 hours to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Genocide. The memorial is designed by architects Arthur Tarkhanyan, Sashur Kalashyan and artist Ovannes Khachatryan. It was completed in 1968.
The 44 meter stele symbolizes the national rebirth of Armenians. 12 slabs are positioned in a circle, representing the 12 lost provinces in present day Turkey. In the center of the circle, at a depth of 1.5 meters, there is an eternal flame.
Along the park at the memorial there is a 100 meter wall with names of towns and villages where massacres are known to have taken place. On the rear side of the commemoration wall, plates have been attached to honor persons who have committed themselves to relieving the distress of the victims during and after the genocide (among others: Johannes Lepsius, Franz Werfel, Armin T. Wegner, Henry Morgenthau Sr., Fridtjof Nansen, Pope Benedict XV, Jakob Künzler, Bodil Biørn).
As an act of commemoration of the victims, an alley of trees has been planted.
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