The history of ancient Yerevan begins with Arin-Berd hill in the southeast part of Yerevan where archeologists restored the ruins of Erebuni, the ancient fortress, which gave city its life. This fortress was founded during the 8th century BC by the Urartians, the predecessors of the Armenians.
As a fortress, this settlement was an important military center, the first of its kind built by the Urartians in that area. In addition to that, the Erebuni Fortress was one of the Urartian Kingdom’s most important political, economic, and cultural centers.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the fortress had a rather clear-cut layout, similar to other settlements of the Urartian Kingdom. A town was built at the foot of the hill, whilst a citadel was built on top of the hill where it commanded a full view of the town below as well as the Ararat plain, its settlements, and the roads leading to the fortress. Due to the configuration of the hill top, the citadel’s plan was triangular in shape. The fortress was constructed in various stages, and remains of structures such as walls, palaces, and temples are still visible today.
The entrance to the citadel was on the southeastern side, where the hill has a gentler slope. Additionally, the entrance was identified by the fact that the walls at the entrance were erected in three rows. There was also a six-column portico that stood to the left of the road leading to the entrance of the citadel. This portico was painted with colorful frescoes and the stairway which led up to it was flanked by bronze figures of winged bulls with human heads.
In addition to the palace, another important structure within the Fortress of Erebuni was the temple of Haldi — the main god in the Urartian triad of Haldi, Teisheba, and Shivini. This structure was located in the southwestern part of the citadel’s square, and was a large hall with an open 12-column portico.