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The “Vernatun” Center

History

In 1899, Hovhannes Tumanyan founded Armenian literary group. The meetings of Armenian intellectuals were organized in the garret of Tumanyan’s house on 44 Behbutyan Street in Tbilisi (Vernatun means garret in Armenian). Permanent members of the Vernatun once or twice a week gathered in Tumanyan’s house for discussions. During those meetings great writers discussed the works of new authors and classic works of world literature, brought their own works for discussion. Vernatun had existed for 7-8 years, in 1908, in connection with absence and departure of the members the union ceased to exist.

The house of the great Armenian writer, Hovhannes Tumanyan, is located on Amagleba street, 18 (former Davitashvili St.), where the writer lived from 1904 to 1923. In 1952 the writer’s personal belongings were taken to Yerevan. 4 rooms out of 6 where turned into a library. The rest belonged to heirs. After Georgia’s independence, the City Hall of Tbilisi has transferred the ownership of the part of the library to a Georgian citizen. That part later had to be acquired again.

 

The “Vernatun” Center at the Armenian Diocese in Georgia

The part of the house (150sqm), which is now turned into a library, was acquired for the Armenian community in Georgia by Levon Ananyan the late former chairman of the Writers’ Union of Armenia thanks to the financial support provided by the Mayor of Gyumri, Vardan Ghukasyan,. The Diocese was responsible for the purchased part of the building.

In 2015, on the basis of the application filed by the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia and thanks to the funds provided by the St. Gevorg Reconstruction Project, the rest of the house was purchased and entirely transferred to the Diocese.

On June 8, 2015, the house hosted a symbolic meeting of the Chairman of the Writers’ Union of Armenia and the Chairman of the Georgian Writer’s Union.

The Chairman of the Writers’ Union of Armenia, Edvard Militonyan handed the keys to the Primate of the Armenian Diocese, His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan. The house is called the “Tumanyan Vernatun of Culture and Art”, the purpose of which is the development of the cooperation and mutual relationships between two Christian nations, the organization of book presentations and different cultural events. The building will include a hall, a library providing sources in four languages, AGBU Virtual College and one of the rooms will carry the name of Levon Ananyan.

On the same day the Chairman of the Writers’ Union of Armenia, Edvard Militonyan, the Secretary of the Georgian Writer’s Union, Makvala Gonashvili, the “Vernatun” Armenian Writers’ Union of Georgia, the “Hayartun” Center, and NGO “Kamurj” for the Armenian-Georgian Literary Relations signed a memorandum of cooperation.

The building is named the “Vernatun” Center and is being reconstructed at present.

Tbilisi Pantheon “Khojivank”

Also is known as the Pantheon of the Armenian Writers and Public Figures in Avlabari. It was founded in the 17th century on the area granted by Georgian king Rostom to his Secretary, “enlightened and educated” man Ashkharabek Beybutyan. He was called by Georgian king Rostom - Khoja Beybut (Big Beybut). A church (Vanq) was built there, subsequently because of sound alternations the cemetery was called Khojivank. The vicinity of the church at one time had turned into Armenian cemetery, where more than 1000 prominent public figures and writers were buried.

In 1930’s the cemetery was destroyed, and only due to scene-painter Grigor Sharbabchyan’s efforts it was possible to preserve a tiny part of remains and create the Armenian Pantheon of Tbilisi near Raffi’s tombstone.

The pantheon was designed by Ruben Agababyan, opened in 1961, reconstructed in 2002, under the patronage of Yerevan City Hall and Tbilisi City Hall, with the support of RA Embassy to Georgia the Union of Armenians of Georgia. The “Hayartun” Center at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia conducts maintenance of the Pantheon.