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Visit the "closed bazaar," a football stadium-sized indoor market brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables displayed like gleaming jewels.

You'll also find a gregarious woman at one of the spice tables, with mounds of saffron threads, finely ground cinnamon and piles of cardamom pods.

And if you want an unforgettable treat, try crushed walnuts wrapped in a thin sheet of candied fig, or the hazelnuts dipped in sticky cherry or apricot puree.

See the rare document museum, the Matenadaran, which houses ancient manuscripts, some dating to the ninth century. An English tour guide - $2.50 above the regular $4 admission fee - will heighten your experience by explaining the relevance of what you're seeing. Located at 53 Mesrop Mashtots St.

Highlight: a huge 15th-century book relaying Armenia's history. It was ripped in half and smuggled out of the country by two peasant women during the 1915 genocide. Both women, and both halves of the book, survived.

Make time for the Sergey Parajanov Museum, 15/16 Dzoragiugh St. Parajanov, a 20th-century film director often called a master of modern cinema, was imprisoned during the Stalin era and suffered for his art.

Learn the difference between brandy and cognac, and how to rate the amber liquid's transparency, viscosity and aroma at the Yerevan Brandy Company, which offers free factory tours.

Stroll through the Vernissage, a festive outdoor market that operates each weekend near Republic Square. Here you'll find accordions, old toasters, Russian nesting dolls, obscure car parts, compasses, jewelry and strolling musicians.

Visit Tsitsernakaberd, the somber site of the Genocide Memorial, and the Museum of the Armenian Genocide.

Tens of thousands of Armenians make a pilgrimage here each year on April 24, the national day of commemoration and mourning. The memorial can be visited at any hour of the day. It comprises an obelisk surrounded by 12 inward-leaning stone blocks (to symbolize the providences of western Armenia that were emptied of their populations) that protect an eternal flame.

Dallas Morning News , TX
Nov 11 2005

Added: Saturday, November 12, 2005
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