Family & Descendants of Alexander Tamanian

We believe that family history must be known and passed on from one generation to the other because we would not be the people we are today without those who came before us. We often inherit some of the personal traits of character or talents of our ancestors.   It is also interesting to know how the renowned people have lived.

We are happy to share with you some personal accounts of Alexander Tamanian's family members and tell you more about his wife and worthy descendants, who have inherited a portion of his artistic talents.

Alexander Tamanian's personal life was overall a happy one. He was blessed with a beautiful, loving wife and talented children. He was a wonderful, kind and friendly person with many talents and a great sense of humour.

The Tamanian family was surrounded by wonderful and talented people. However there were two sorrows in Alexander Tamanian's life from which he could not fully recover.

Zara and Gagik Tamanian will be very happy to hear from you and can be contacted via email:

Outstanding architect Alexander Tamanian

If I hadn't become an Architect, I would become an Orchestra Conductor."Alexander Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian (also known as Tamanov, Tamanyan) was born in Ekaterinodar (Krasnodar) in the Russian Empire to a large Armenian family of bank worker Hovhannes Tamanyants and his wife Maria Popova (Terteryan) on the 4th of March, 1878. He was a much loved member of the family. Hovhannes' ancestors were originally from Trabzon in Western Armenia and fled to Russia because of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire.

From the Memoirs of Magdalina Tamanian-Shausen, Alexander Tamanian's younger sister

(extract, 1950s)

Little Sasha Tamanov, 1886

The Tamanian family in Yekaterinodar, Russia, 1888s. Little Alexander is on the left stanidng next to his mother Maria

My brother Alexander was the fourth son in our family, and there were 12 of us children, 8 of whom grew up: five boys - Miron, Gregory, Sergey, Alexander and Emmanuel and three girls - Magdalina, Evgenia and Olga. I do not recall a single case when any of Alexander's actions had upset our parents. On the contrary, he was set as an example to other children. He was two years older than me and a very meticulous person. He loved when our mother gave him some tasks to do and he always completed them with great accuracy. From an early age his studies proceeded smoothly. Sasha was a very resourceful and friendly child and could explain the most difficult things in a very clear manner. He was my first teacher and taught me to read and to write. From an early age, brother Alexander drew very well, which caught the attention of his drawing teacher Alexander Kurochkin, who cultivated his artistic talent.

Like everyone in our family, my brother was very fond of music and was very musical. At the elementary school he played the cornet in the school's brass band. In adulthood he had a nice baritone voice and often during his work loved to sing various opera arias. He was very fond of the following composers - Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Grieg and many others. Alexander was a very cheerful, witty, sociable person with a wonderful sense of humour and was "the life of the party". He was very kind to everyone. He always helped everyone. Our mum and dad loved Shurochka, as they called him, very much and he always treated them with love and respect. Despite the fact that they lived in different cities, he always managed to make them happy and every month he took care of them financially.

Alexander Tamanian with his mother Maria, 1910

Alexander Tamanian with his father Hovhannes, 1930

Young Alexander Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian, drawing by his friend Ludwig Schreter during their student years

Brother Alexander went to study in St Petersburg and there he achieved everything by himself because of his talent and hard work. Nobody was helping him. One evening at home while looking through his book about ancient Armenian architecture, Sasha said to his friend Eugene Schreter: "You will see, I will live in Armenia and create there". These words came true later on. Alexander loved architecture as well as music with all his heart. He used to say: “Architecture is stone music”. He always found time to attend classical concerts. And he danced the polka with such grace and ease, it was a great pleasure for me to dance with him! I also remember that he liked to drink very sweet tea from the samovar. (* Samovar is a traditional metal container used to heat and boil water in Russia). Alexander was very fond of literature, especially loved such authors as Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Griboyedov and Ivan Krylov. In St Petersburg, my brother lived at 3/41 Bolshoy Prospekt, Vasilievsky Island! This building has survived to this day.

In 1903-1908 Alexander Tamanian lived in a house next to the Academy, which belonged to the outstanding botanist Mikhail Stepanovich Voronin. (Address: St Petersburg, 4 Akademichesky Pereulok, 1/5th line Vasilevskiy island).

During a tea break. Alexander Tamanian is standing third from the left with his talented friends at the Academy of Fine Arts studio of professor, architect Leon Nikolaevich Benois, St Petersburg, 1903

Alexander Tamanian wrote this note to himself about his desire to build a theatre. The description of the theatre includes fountains, colonnades, statues, gardens

I would like to build a classical Theatre."Alexander Tamanian wrote in St Petersburg in 1911

Alexander was very busy in Armenia, working until late at night and never taking any vacations. He was extremely dedicated to his work and was also a very devoted brother. He asked his three sisters, myself included, to move to Yerevan and live with his family in their small apartment. Friends came to visit the family every Thursday night. The Tamanians always welcomed everyone. Despite Alexander being an important asset for the country - building and creating for it day and night, he lived extremely modestly. When people asked him why he did not have a comfortable home, he would say "Such are the living conditions now in Yerevan". The government allocated a plot of land and was going to help with the construction of a house for him but this did not happen.

My brother did not have time to think about himself. He was all absorbed in his work and looked completely exhausted. His eyesight became very poor. When only a layout draft of the Opera House existed, Alexander said "Maybe I will not get to walk past the theatre”. Those words came true. He passed away just before his 58th birthday and sadly he did not live to see his masterpiece Opera House complete. His coffin was brought and placed on the wall of the theatre, which had only reached the height of one metre. It is painful for us that Alexander is not with us and he did not live to see a thriving Yerevan. At every step we can see the results of his creativity."

Camilla Edwards - Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian's beloved Wife, granddaughter of Nicholas Benois

Alexander Tamanian's wife Camilla Matveyevna Tamanian (nee Edwards) comes from two very distinguished artistic dynasties - The Benois family of French origin and The Cavos family of Italian origin. 

Camilla Matveyevna Tamanian (nee Edwards)

Camilla Tamanian's grandfather on her mother's side was Nicholas (Nikolai) Leontievich Benois (1.7.1813 - 11.12.1898) - state councillor, renowned Russian architect, academician and professor of architecture at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts, chief architect of Peterhof (since 1850). He studied architecture at the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in St Petersburg from 1827 to 1836. Eight years later, he was appointed court architect to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and oversaw several projects in the town of Peterhof, notably the Principal Imperial Stables (1847–1852). He was quite notable in 19th-century Russia for adhering to the Gothic Revival style of architecture and decoration.

Portrait of professor of architecture, chief architect of Peterhof, Nicholas Leontievich Benois, grandfather of Camilla Tamanian. Painting by Viktor Dumitrashko

Nikolai Leontyevich Benois married Camilla Albertovna Cavos, who was the daughter of Alberto Cavos (22.12.1800 - 22.05.1863), an Italian architect living and working in Russia, best known for his theatre designs, for designing and building The Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg (1859–1860) and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow (1853–1856). Nikolai and Camilla Benois had 9 children: 3 girls and 6 boys, two of whom sadly died in infancy.

Camilla Edwards-Tamanian's grandfather Architect Nikolas Leontievich Benois (1813-1898), his wife Camilla Albertovna Cavos (1828-1891) with their children in 1867. Camilla's mother, also named Camilla, is sitting on the right

Alexander Tamanian's future wife Camilla Edwards (04.07.1885-21.12.1964) was born in the family of an Englishman Matthew Yakovlevich Edwards (1847-1917) and Camilla Nikolaevna Benois (1849-1920), the daughter of architect Nicholas Benois.

Matthew Edwards came to live in St Petersburg and became the English language tutor of the young Camilla Benois in 1874. Camilla and Matthew immediately fell in love and got married in 1875. Matthew Edwards was a typical British person - tall, strong, good-natured man with ginger hair and beard. He was a very skilful organiser and soon became a respected and wealthy owner of a rope factory in the Okhtinsky suburb of St Petersburg. When he passed away in 1917 during the Russian revolution, his loyal workers carried his coffin from his home to the cemetery for 3 km and grieved his loss like of a family member.

Matthew Edwards' wife Camilla Benois-Edwards was a quiet, kind, gentle woman, a loving wife and mother of four children. She learned to cook English food such as roast beef, roast turkey, roast duck and pies for her beloved Matthew and the children. She skilfully ran her household and a happy and relaxed atmosphere reigned in their family life.

To this day, the descendants of the Edwards, Benois and Tamanian families keep a wonderful tradition of naming one of the daughters in each generation Camilla. Thus Camilla Tamanian's mother and grandmother were both named Camilla!

Camilla Edwards-Tamanian's father Matthew Edwards is on the right, mother Camilla Benois is next to him, little Camilla, her siblings and grandparents- architect Nikolas Benois and Camilla Cavos

Alexander Tamanian graduated from the local Kuban school in 1896. He brilliantly passed the entrance exams and enrolled to study architecture at St Petersburg's Higher Art School of the Imperial Academy of the Arts in 1898. There he was educated by great masters, amongst them legendary architects brothers Alexander and Albert Benois. They were Camilla Edwards-Tamanian's uncles. Amongst his art school friends were Camilla's cousins Nikolay and Eugene Lanceray and Ludwig Schreter.

Alexander Tamanian graduated from the Art School with the title of artist-architect in 1904. Being a talented architect, he was working at the studio of architect Leon (Leonty) Nikolaevich Benois. So in many ways, Alexander Tamanian and Camilla Edwards were meant to meet each other and it happened at the house of Ekaterina Nikolaevna Lanceray, Camilla's aunt. They soon fell in love with each other forever.

Beautiful Camilla Edwards - Tamanian

During our first meeting, Alexander made a huge impression on me - tall, handsome, with interesting facial features, beautiful white teeth and black hair that distinguished him so much from his Russian friends. Young Tamanian was the life of our parties with his lively and cheerful character."

Alexander exchanged letters with his father in the Armenian language. I still remember my father-in-law's small beautiful handwriting."

From the memoirs of Camilla Tamanian

Albert Nikolaevich Benois (1852-1936) - Russian painter, architect, academician. A. Tamanian's teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts. The son of architect Nicholas Leontievich Benois. Camilla Edwards - Tamanian's uncle.

Leon (Leonty) Nikolaevich Benois (1856-1928) - academician of architecture, professor, outstanding lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts, head of the Academy's studio. Lecturer of A.Tamanian. The son of architect Nicholas Leontievich Benois. Camilla Tamanian's uncle

Alexander Nikolaevich Benois (1870-1960) - famous painter, art critic, historian, stage designer for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, founder of the "World of the Arts" society and its magazine in 1898. The uncle of Camilla Tamanian

Sir Peter Ustinov (1921-2004) - famous English actor, writer, and filmmaker. He was the son of the famous British painter Nadia Benois, Camilla Tamanian's cousin

Alexander Tamanian with his beloved wife Camilla

Between 1904 -1906, Alexander Tamanian worked on the reconstruction of The Armenian Apostolic Church of St Catherine on Nevsky Prospekt in St Petersburg. Alexander wed Camilla in that beautiful church in 1908!

The Armenian Apostolic Church of St Catherine

The happy couple had four children. Maria, the eldest daughter, was born in 1908, son George (Gevorg) was born in 1910, daughter Varvara was born in 1916 and youngest son Julius (Yuliy) was born in 1922.

Alexander and Camilla with their daughter Maria and son George (Georgiy, Gevorg) in 1914

The Tamanian family was united by great love, which helped them live through and overcome many difficulties. Major life-changing and challenging events included two Revolutions of 1917 and living under the rule of the Provisional Government in Russia. Fearful about his family's safety, Alexander Tamanian moved them to Anapa, a town in Krasnodar area on the Black Sea coast in September 1917, while himself remaining and working in St Petersburg.  In 1919, he went to Anapa to join his family and then left for Armenia to assist the developement of his Motherland, the First Armenian Republic. He worked tirelessly on the design of the master plan of Yerevan, the capital of the independent Armenia and on many other urgent tasks.

A change of government took place in Armenia in 1919 and the letters from Anapa were not reaching Alexander Tamanian. He did not know anything about his family. Meanwhile in Anapa, his wife Camilla did not know anything about him and to support her family baked pastries for sale. One can only imagine how tough the years of the separation were for the Tamanians. Interestingly, one letter which was sent by Alexander to his family in 1919, miraculously appeared in 1962, but this is another interesting story.

At last, brave Camilla Tamanian decided to go to Yerevan to join her beloved Alexander (she called him Shurochka). With great difficulties which took months, having sold everything they had, the family of the great architect traveled to Armenia independently, without anyone's help on a cart with horses and by train, through Krasnodar, Baku, Georgia... Finally having reached the city of Alaverdi in Armenia, the family huddled for three days in a nook under the stairs at the railway station!!! They no longer had any hope of someday seeing their beloved husband and father. Only ten-year-old Gevorg spoke Armenian which made things even more difficult. As fate would have it, Mr Levon Shant, one of the leaders of the First Armenian Republic, arrived by train to Alaverdi. The man in charge of the station told him all about Alexander Tamanian's family's poverty-stricken situation and Mr Shant immediately invited Camilla and the children to his carriage. Incredibly Alexander Tamanian was at the time in the town of Alexandropol (later called Leninakan, now called Gyumri) for work, when this particular train approached the train station. Out of curiousity Alexander went to see who had arrived on the train and... hugs, tears, joy, happiness! The Tamanian family was reunited in 1920.

The political situation in Armenia was very dangerous and in April 1921, the Tamanian family moved to the city of Tabriz in Iran. On the way to Iran, great architect's skills were utilised and thanks to him, a raft was built to ferry Armenian troops in the Julfa region from one bank of the fast Araks River to the other!

Alexander Tamanian with his daughter Varvara (Arochka) and youngest son Yuliy

In Tabriz, Alexander Tamanian established a successful workshop and worked tirelessly to support his family, hoping that better living conditions would improve the health of his dear ones. Tragically, soon after the move, the family suffered a great loss when the eldest daughter Maria fell ill and passed away. She was only 13 years old. How to go on, because no parent should outlive their child... It was a heartbreaking time for the Tamanian family. As life would have it, a happier time followed when their son Yuliy (Julius) was born in 1922.

Meanwhile the Armenian Soviet Government had sent numerous official invitations to Alexander Tamanian, urging him to return to Armenia to work in his field of expertise. The Tamanian family returned to Armenia in March 1923. The capital city Yerevan was a blank canvas where Maestro had the freedom and scope to build from his imagination a new Yerevan, a "garden city" for future generations to enjoy! And create it, he did!

Portrait of Camilla Tamanian by Eugene Lanceray, Yerevan, 1927

Camilla Tamanian nobly endured all the hardships and tribulations that befell her family. The European luxury and splendour of St Petersburg must have stayed in her dreams. However she embraced the life in Yerevan with strength and determination and created a welcoming home for her family and many visitors - artists, writers, architects, singers. A close friend and renowned Armenian poet Avetik Isahakian wrote in his  memoirs titled "In memory of the incomparable Tamanian":

The Tamanian couple were famous for their warm hospitality. They turned their home into the most attractive meeting and conversation place in Yerevan. The guests usually left with a feeling of deep satisfaction and looked forward to such an evening again. What unforgettable moments, what sweet memories!"

Translated from Russian by Zara Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian with his beloved daughter Varvara

In 1934, another huge sorrow struck the family. Varvara, the beloved daughter, who was a wonderful pianist and a lovely 18 year old lady with her entire future ahead of her, got sick and passed away. This enormous blow was too much for the family and friends to endure. Alexander Tamanian's health deteriorated, his eyesight got worse and he looked much older than someone his age. Everyday and in any weather conditions he went to the cemetery to visit the graves of both of his daughters. It was a devastating time for the family.

A trip to Moscow was organised to shake up grieving Alexander Tamanian out of his half-alive state and it seemed that while he was in Moscow, he was full of ideas about renovations of Sherbatov's House. However on his return to Yerevan,  he went to visit the graves of his daughters on a cold winter's day. He got very sick and could not recover from pneumonia. Alexander Tamanian passed away too soon and too suddenly on February 20, 1936, leaving his family and friends absolutely devastated and his important work unfinished. Many of his plans and dreams were carried forward and realised by his architect sons Gevorg and Yuliy Tamanian and the architects of "The Tamanian School" of architecture, graduates and colleagues, who worked with the Master throughout the years.

Camilla Matveevna outlived her husband by three decades and died in 1964, surrounded by her two sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She did see her husband's buildings dreams realised.

More information about the Benois Family can be found on our Links page

From the Memoirs of Virginia Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian's niece, his brother Emmanuel's daughter (extract, 1990s)

My dear uncle Shura (Alexander Tamanian) was a very loving, very kind man. He was a great patriot of his nation. When I arrived from Russia to Yerevan in 1931, Yerevan only had a handful of nice buildings. At 4 pm the wind would start to blow and the dust would be flying everywhere. My uncle Shura used to say that the climate will change when there will be many parks in Yerevan and he was right.
Uncle Shura wanted all his siblings to come and live in Yerevan. My father Emmanuel brought us to Yerevan in 1931. I worked in the office at the Kanaker Hydroelectric power station's construction site. I improved my Armenian language at the workplace. My uncle's three sisters came to Yerevan in 1932. They lived with uncle's family and everyone worked and came home in the evenings very tired. My uncle worked extremely hard.

Uncle Shura was a great dancer. I remember when I danced with him, it was such a joy. All the other dancing pairs would stop and stand there just looking at us.

My aunt Camilla was a remarkable woman. Just imagine what it would be like for a woman, who grew up and lived in comfortable and beautiful surroundings in St Petersburg to move to Yerevan, Armenia, a town and country in great need of rebuilding after years of poverty and war! She never complained and stoically remained her family's rock throughout the years.

Camilla and Alexander Tamanian

I remember that my aunt Camilla spoke English with her friends and later with her grandchildren. She was a very kind and caring woman with fantastic needlework skills and also a great cook. All the daily cooking duties for the family as well as the laundry were her responsibilities. My uncle loved to drink tea with a teaspoon of cream with family and friends while sitting in a deep armchair in the evenings. He loved music very much and my cousin Arochka (Varvara, daughter of Alexander Tamanian) and I would play and sing for him. He was always delighted and encouraged me to not be so shy. He would always joke as he had a great sense of humour. When leaving home, uncle Shura always said “Goodbye” in English to his wife.

The Tamanian household was very hospitable and on Thursday evenings the doors were open to all the wonderful friends: Avetik Isahakian (famous writer), Martiros Sarian (famous painter), Marietta Shaginyan (famous writer) and her husband Jacob Khachatryants (translator) and many other intellectuals. They all came to Armenia to help rebuild the country from ruins. The goal of every single person there and collectively was to make Armenia great! There was a wonderful, creative and intellectual atmosphere at the Tamanian home and Varvara and I loved serving tea to every guest.

A lovely photograph of Camilla and Alexander Tamanian from the family archive

My cousin Gevorg was a very handsome young man and he loved photography. He had a private tutor to learn the Armenian language while the family was living in St Petersburg because of the great patriotism of my uncle Shura! My cousin Yuliy as a child was a very funny boy, always joking and teasing everyone. He and I developed a close bond for life, he was a very kind and caring person.

Young Gevorg Tamanian on his motorcycle

My cousin Arochka was the soul of the family and when she suddenly got sick and passed away, it was a huge tragedy for everyone. Especially distraught was my uncle Shura. He was never the same after the great loss and every day he went to the cemetery to be close to his daughters.

I have so many wonderful memories of our remarkable family. I want all the future generations to be proud of Alexander Tamanian and praise His great surname!

Architects Gevorg and Yuliy Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian's sons

The Tamanian Brothers

Article written by N. Kazarian during Soviet times in 1978.

Translated from Russian to English by Zara Tamanian

They followed in their father's footsteps. Why did they take the baton from him and are now passing it on to the next generation? Did they feel the wonderful excitement of a captivating dream in their youth, did they understand the power of creation and the satisfaction of the Creator? Or maybe it is a family tradition: the father is an architect, the maternal grandmother is the daughter of the famous Russian architect Nicholas Benois, and her sister is the wife of the sculptor Eugene Lanceray. Or did their father's high profile title of the "People's Architect" oblige them to continue what he started? Most likely, the whole atmosphere of the family played a role.

In their childhood Gevorg and Yuliy showed an interest in what their father was doing and his passion fascinated them as well. He was a remarkable man, their father - Alexander Tamanian. He was multi-talented with a good ear and musical memory, played in a brass band, had a beautiful baritone voice, danced with grace and elegance and he was gifted with a sense of wit and humour. But most of all, he loved architecture and devoted his entire life to it. The boys listened to his stories about his creative plans, saw the layouts of future buildings and witnessed them rising in reality.

The Opera and Ballet Theatre in Yerevan, Armenia, designed by Alexander Tamanian, completed by Gevorg Tamanian

Before their eyes, the buildings of the Yerevan Hydroelectric Power Station, Government House, People's House (Opera and Ballet Theatre), Veterinary Institute and many other buildings were built. Martiros Sarian (painter) came to their house, as well as Toros Toramanian (architect), Gevorg Yakulov (painter), Marietta Shaginian (writer, activist), Aleksander Spendiarov (composer, conductor), Avetik Isahakyan (poet, writer, activist), Aitsemic Urartu (sculptor), many other notable architects, painters and artists. All of them discussed their projects, debated and expressed their opinions. Gevorg and Yuliy listened to their conversations, looked at the Master Plan of the development of Yerevan drawn by their father and were carried away by a dream of the future…

Both sons graduated from the faculty of Architecture of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute and both decided to continue and develop what their father had started but had not completed due to passing away. First of all, Gevorg Tamanian took on the task of continuing the building projects of the Government House and the Opera and Ballet Theatre. Yerevan residents owe their gratitude to him for The Great Concert Philharmonic Hall (Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall). Maybe not all students and researchers who study the books at the Myasnikyan Republican Library and Book Depository are aware that father and son Tamanians have designed these buildings.

Gevorg Tamanian

While continuing to work on his father's projects, Gevorg simultaneously developed his independent creativity. He designed the Institute of Drafting "Armgos-Project", a complex of residential buildings at the end of Lenin Avenue, the residential house Gumussoy HPP, the music school Sayat-Nova and the Music Conservatory. Everyone who has visited the town of Jermuk, of course, has admired the mineral water drinking gallery and the bathing building, also created by Gevorg Tamanian.

Travellers, having quenched their thirst at many springs - monuments in the regions of the Republic, utter words of gratitude to their builders. But they hardly know that many of them were built according to Gevorg Alexandrovich's designs. In Ashtarak, Artashat, Oktemberian and other districts of the Republic and beyond, many club buildings have been built and the author of them is also Gevorg Tamanian. We won't list everything he has built. For his fruitful work, he was awarded the title of the Honorary Builder and during the celebration of the anniversary of our glorious capital - the title of Honorary Architect of Armenian SSR. Gevorg Tamanian, a modest and tough on himself architect, is full of creative power. He still has a lot to do. He has new plans coming up…

Yuliy Tamanian

Yuliy Tamanian inherited from his father a great love of antiquity. Alexander Tamanian, as the Chairman of the Committee for the Protection of Historical Monuments, had done a lot of work in studying and restoring monuments. He taught others not only to create new things but also to carefully protect the creations of the past centuries, those carved and sculpted by the skillful hands of the masters unknown to history. He admired their creations and learned from them. He became a great disciple of the nameless teachers. He urged not to imitate them and copy but to develop them and improve the elements of folk art.

Yuliy Tamanian has visited almost all regions of Armenia and got acquainted with the preserved ancient monuments. He studied them, measured them and fixed them. He made restoration plans and supervised the restoration work. Goshavank Monastery in Ijevan region, Mshkavank Monastery in Noyemberian region, fifth century cathedral in Ashtarak and many other buildings of the Armenian nation were carefully restored with the participation of Yuliy Tamanian. Now (in 1978) he is engaged in the restoration and improvement of the Shengavit archaeological monument on the territory of Yerevan.

The Tamanian brothers, faithful to their father's precepts, continue to study his creative legacy, learn from him and improve their knowledge, applying it to solve modern architectural problems. The Tamanian family still thrives in a creative environment with many books, projects and conversations. Now their children are drawn into these conversations and decide what directions to follow in life.

Gevorg Tamanian's daughter, a young, fair-haired Gayane Tamanian (married name Karamyan), is a fifth-year student of the faculty of Architecture at the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute. Like her father, she will soon receive a diploma from this Institute, with the honorary title of Architect. What will Gayane build and how she will build it, only the future will tell but there is already a big responsibility resting on her delicate shoulders - she needs to justify the surname Tamanian, much loved by the Armenian people and so dear to them.

The Government House and The Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia 

A Worthy Descendant - Gevorg Tamanian

Article was written in English by Margo Ghoukassian, Kroonk Magazine, 1985

The far-famed spas of Jermuk are of magnetic attraction to thousands of people from the remotest corners of the Soviet Union. Apart from placing its spas of varying temperature and composition at the disposal of patients three times a day all year round, the health resort is at the same time a living example of the building art and architecture of the Armenians.

Gevorg Tamanian (Tamanyan), now 75, has devoted half a century of his life to architecture. The spa hall of Jermuk is but one of those structures, designed by the architect, to be admired within the towns and villages of our republic. Traceable in all his major and minor works is his loyalty to Armenian architectural traditions, his love for and devotion to the roots of his art.

Gevorg (George) Tamanian

Gevorg Tamanian was a student of his father, Alexander Tamanian, an architect of genius. Brought up in a family, where each member cultivated an all-absorbing love for art, kindness and hardwork, Gevorg was pervaded with that atmosphere as he made his first steps in his father's atelier. Our people are the owners of an exceptional fortune which bears no comparison to any material value. That fortune is the crafts, transmitted from one generation to another: builders, masons, railwaymen, doctors, families of musicians and architects. Their legacy and devotion to their trade have been the best educators of the succeeding generation.

At this point, a bright page from the history of the Armenian scriptorial art came to my mind. Hovanes Mangasarents, born in 1419, who lived to the age of 86, was the most fruitful scribe. He copied 132 manuscripts that form the pick of the Matenadaran (repository of ancient manuscripts in Yerevan). Karapet, his son, took up the trade of his father and in turn, Hovanes, the junior son of Karapet, followed in the footsteps of his father.
Achievements of Gevorg Tamanian

  • Honorary Architect of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR)
  • Honorary Builder of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR)
  • Laureate of the State Prize of the Armenian SSR for The Republic Square, 1971
  • Laureate of the State Prize of the Armenian SSR for the reconstruction of the  Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Alexander Spendiaryan, 1980
  • Certificates of Honor of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR (1945, 1953, 1971, 1978)
  • Associate Professor of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute 
  • Laureate of the USSR Creativity of Young Architects competition, 1947
  • Laureate of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic's "The best building of the year" competition, 1953

State Conservatory named after Komitas, Yerevan. Komitas is considered to be the founder of the Armenian national school of music

Five centuries later history repeated itself in another domain of art: Alexander Tamanian, the pride of Armenian architecture, erected a good deal of gorgeous buildings in Moscow, St Petersburg... During the thirteen years that he lived in Armenia he conceived so many masterpieces that most of them remained incomplete. This pleasant yet strenuous task of achieving A. Tamanian's unfulfilled mission and bridging the gap, fell on his son's shoulders. Gevorg Tamanian designed a great number of buildings in our capital: The Armenian State Design Institute, the Sayat-Nova Music School, the apartments on Kievian Street. 

Everything devised by father and his own personality were reared in adoration. The scrupulous attitude to every fragment of the Opera building during the latter's reconstruction comes as a testimony of the above statement. An added proof of his tender love was provided by the sumptuous interior decoration of the Opera Theatre and the Government House. The spectators, whose eyes now feast on the foyers, the columns, the marbled sculptures of the Opera House, the Grand Concert Hall and the Government House are the product of Gevorg Tamanian's architectural gift. A descendant worthy of his father. Decent, honest and virtuous. Those are Gevorg Tamanian's merits so generously lavished on his fellow workers, which can be shared by the rising and coming generation of architects.

Biography of Gevorg Tamanian

Gevorg Tamanian was born in St Petersburg on 26.02.1910. As a young child living in Russia, he had a private tutor, who taught him the Armenian language because his father, Alexander Tamanian, was a great patriot. The Tamanian family moved to motherland Armenia a few years after the Russian Revolution of 1917. Gevorg studied architecture and graduated from Yerevan Polytechnic Insitute in 1932. He worked at the studio/workshop of his father and learnt from him, which gave him the knowledge to continue the projects of Alexander Tamanian such as the Opera and Government House.

Gevorg Tamanian has designed Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall. You may know Aram Khachaturian's popular, rhythmically stirring Sabre Dance from the ballet Gayane (1942). Gevorg Tamanian has also designed residential neighbourhoods in districts Ajapnyak, Nor-Zeytun and Nork; the scientific town of the Institute of Physics in Ajapnyak. In Yerevan he has designed the Nairi Cinema with residential building, School 55 named after Chekhov, Sayat-Nova Music School, Komitas State Conservatory, residential building at 31 Moskovyan Street and all the residential buildings on Kievyan Street, multiple monuments, Mineral Water Drinking Gallery in Jermuk, the residential building of The Gyumush Hydro Power Plant (also known as Argel Hydro Power Plant), House of Culture in Matuni and a club in the village of Chartar in Artsakh and much more.

Gevorg Tamanian and his wife Eleonora had three children: Alexander Tamanian (renowned physicist), Gayane Tamanian-Karamyan (talented architect) and Kamilla Tamanian (prominent botanist). Among their descendants, who became architects are grandson Haik Tamanyan (born 1965) and great-grandson Areg Petrosyan (born 2000).

Gevorg Tamanian sadly passed away in 1993 but his creations and legacy live on.

More about Gevorg Tamanian (in Russian) can be found here

National Library in Yerevan. Architects Alexander and Gevorg Tamanian

School 55 named after Chekhov, Yerevan

Timeless Creations of Gevorg Tamanian

  • Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall, Yerevan
  • Nairi Cinema with residential building, Yerevan
  • Sayat-Nova Music School, Yerevan 
  • Monument of Khachatur Abovian - Armenian writer and national public figure of the early 19th century, Yerevan. Sculptor S. Stepanyan, architect G. Tamanian, 1950

(please click on each image to enlarge it)

Residential Building at 31 Moskovyan St, Yerevan

According to experts, Gevorg Tamanian's residential building located at 31 Moskovyan street in Yerevan, is one of the most architecturally distinguished buildings. Throughout the years it has been enjoyed by its high-profile residents and locals passing by. The beautiful facade has featured in a very popular comedy called "The Men" released in 1972. It has a great cast, including the famous Frunzik (real name Mher Mkrtchyan), who was one of the greatest actors in the Soviet Union.

Beautiful facade of the building

It is said that before the filming of "The Men" began, film's director Edmond Keosayan was sent photographs of the best buildings in Yerevan. He immediately chose the building at 31 Moskovyan Street as it is very beautiful, located in the centre of the city, has large balconies facing the street and there is a park in front of it. The building was also convenient in the sense that the characters in the film were taxi drivers and there was a famous taxi stop nearby. Now there is a famous monument in the park, dedicated to the comedy's main characters.

"The Men" monument in Yerevan

Mineral Water Drinking Gallery in Jermuk, Armenia

Jermuk drinking gallery

Jermuk mineral water drinking gallery

Jermuk town has a long history as a leading Armenian spa resort with cold and hot healing mineral springs. The water is used for drinking. The name of the resort Jermuk translates as "hot spring". The beautiful colonnaded Mineral Water Drinking Gallery was designed by Gevorg Tamanian and built in 1956.

Dringing mineral water is very enjoyable in such a beautiful Gallery. There are five stone urns with mineral water of different temperature flowing into them by pipes set in the wall. Temperature of the water ranges from 30°C to 53°C and each is said to hold different healing properties.

This is a must-see place in Armenia Jermuk for the tourists and locals alike.

Jermuk drinking gallery

Architect Yuliy Tamanian

Alexander Tamanian's youngest son

Written by Yuliy's eldest granddaughter Zara Tamanian, 2021

Yuliy Tamanian (1922-1993) was born in Tabriz, Iran while Alexander Tamanian's family temporarily lived there. He was the youngest child in the family. Yuliy was only 13 years old when his father passed away. Straight after school, Yuliy was conscripted (compulsory drafting) to serve in the Soviet Army in 1939 and he fought in WWII until August 1945. During the war he was in the artillery in Manchuria, in Northeast Asia, fighting against the Japanese. He was a commander of the artillery platoon and a Lieutenant. He was awarded the Medal "For Military Merit" and the Order of the Patriotic War of 2nd degree! Like many other war veterans, he almost never talked about that time of his life but words cannot express how proud I am of him and grateful for the victory he fought for! He came back to Yerevan and graduated as an architect from the Polytechnic Institute in 1953. He married a lovely woman Knarik Tamanian (nee Mnatsakanyan) and they had two sons, Gagik and Gregory. Gagik, the eldest, is my father.

Knarik’s brother, Gurgen Mnatsakanyan (1936-2014) was a prominent Armenian architect, Laureate of the State Prize of the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR (for the high quality of the construction of the theatre named after G. Sundukyan in Yerevan, 1970).

Yuliy Tamanian with his eldest granddaughter Zara

From his famous father Alexander Tamanian, Yuliy had inherited not only his architectural talent but also his love towards classical music. I remember him working at home in the evenings, while listening to famous operas and whistling along.

Yuliy Tamanian worked as a Senior Architect at YerevanProject Institute, one of the largest drafting organisations in the Soviet Union. He was the author of reconstructions of the Theatre for Young Audiences and the Pioneers House in Yerevan, as well as the architect of hospitals and schools. He participated in the reconstruction of the Yerevan Opera House and Аram Khachaturian Concert Hall with his brother Gevorg Tamanian and niece architect Gayane Tamanian (Karamyan). Yuliy also served as the Vice-Chairman of the Armenian Society for the Protection of Historic Monuments and as a Director of that Society’s restoration workshop. Yuliy, in fact, committed his whole life to continuing his father’s legacy in the task of historic architectural conservation and restoration.

Yuliy Tamanian at Teghenyats Vank, 1957

Yuliy Tamanian and his team restored over 40 historical sites of architecture such as churches, monasteries, bridges around Armenia, without making any changes or improvements to their original historic appearance. Many churches were in an awful state of neglect, damage from earthquakes and their antiquity. The Armenian Society for the Protection of Historic Monuments launched its work in all corners of the country with the involvement of students and young people in 1964. My grandfather’s work involved travelling to remote places, studying every valuable monastery, church and bridge carefully and holistically, taking photographs, taking the measurements, sketching, creating architectural plans for buildings' restorations, overseeing the restoration work and protecting the monuments for the future.

Yuliy Tamanian’s hard work, dedication, talent and love for his country is an inspiration to us all. By "breathing new life" into old ancient monuments of architecture, my grandfather and people like him, have preserved them for us and future generations to enjoy and have made a valuable contribution to our society. The memories of my dear grandfather live on in my heart and in the restored architecture that I know still adorns Armenia today."

Zara Tamanian is a creative graphic and web designer in Melbourne, Australia and is happy to collaborate on design projects. Zara can be contacted via email:

Biography of Yuliy (Julius) Tamanian is in Russian here  or in Armenian here

Books written by Yuliy Tamanian

Yuliy Tamanian was a member of the Union of Architects of Armenia and published books in Armenian and Russian languages about the restored Armenian monuments. I am so proud of my grandfather!  He firmly believed in the importance of conservation and restoration of architectural monuments as a legacy for the Armenian people.

(left) "Restoration of Stone Chronicles". Yuliy Tamanian. Published in Armenian with a few pages in the Russian language, Hayastan publisher, 1981
(middle) "Breathing New Life into Ancient Monuments". Yuliy Tamanian. Published in Armenian with a few pages in the Russian language, Hayastan publisher, 1988
(right) "Armenian Architecture in Crimea". Yuliy Tamanian and A. Yakobson. Published in the Russian language,  Hayastan publisher, 1992

Some of the masterpieces respored with the participation of Yuliy Tamanian:

  • Measurements and excavation plans of prehistoric man (5000-3000 BC) in Yerevan
  • Gndevank Monastery, built in 936 near Jermuk resort
  • Church of St Sarkis, east of Bjni fortress, 7th century
  • Astvatsatsin Church in Areni, built in 1321 by architect Momik on the edge of the  canyon of the river Arpa
  • Amberd Church also known as Vahramashen Church and Bath in the Amberd   Fortress
  • St Karapet Church and Voyskovaya Church in Alayaz, 8th century
  • Jukhtak Vank monastery in Dilijan with two churches - St Gregory 12th century and Astvatsatsin, built in 1201 by master Sargis
  • Church Astvatsatsin in Vahanavank, built in 1086 as a two-storey church
  • Astvatsatsin Church in Voskepar, a cruciform plan building, dating 7th century
  • Monastery Ayrivank, 4th-13th centuries, in Kamo district, built on a rocky shore of Lake Sevan
  • Church in Christopher Monastery, 7th century, Talin district
  • Zvartnots Temple and complex, 7th century, reconstruction works
  • Goshavank Monastery, 12th-13th centuries, Ijevan region 
  • Mshkavank Monastery, 12th-13th centuries, Noyemberian region
  • Shengavit archaeological site's reconstruction projects in Yerevan
  • Church in Ddmashen village, 7th century, Sevan district
  • Makravank Monastery, 13th century, Hrazdan district
  • Temple Targmanchats in Aygeshat village, Echmiadzin region
  • Marine Church, 13th century in Ashtarak
  • Church of Artavazdik (Artavazik), 7-8 centuries, Ashtarak region, Byurakan village
  • Haghartsin Monastery, 10-13th centuries, near Dilijan; Holy Virgin Church, 1281; St Gregory Church, 10-11th centuries, restored in 1981-1982
  • Several projects for the archaeological site of Zvartnots in the 1950s-1960s

Memorial dedicated to Khrimyan Hayrik, in the yard of Etchmiadzin Cathedral, 1982.
Sculptor: Getik Baghdasaryan, Architect: Yuliy Tamanian

From the Books written by Yuliy Tamanian:

Restoration of Amberd Church, Armenia

The Amberd fortress, built in the 10th century on the slopes of Mount Aragats, has played a major role in the fight against foreign invaders. A Church was built in 1026 to the south-east of the palace, on the territory of the fortress, and it reached us in a highly dilapidated condition. The church is known as Amberd or Vahramashen Church. Restoration project of Yuliy Tamanian in 1970 provided for a partial relaying of the facade with addition of new stones and masonry of caved stones and restoration of the dome without disassembling.

Photographs Before and After Restoration

From book: "Restoration of Stone Chronicles". Yuliy Tamanian. Published in Armenian with a few pages in the Russian language, Hayastan publisher, 1981

Beautiful Amberd (Vahramashen) Church, Armenia

A very interesting Video of Amberd

Restoration of St Sarkis Church, Armenia

St Sarkis Church is located on a rocky outcrop to the east of Bjni fortress. It was built in the 7th century and reached us in a neglected condition. The restoration plan was drawn up by Yuliy Tamanian and S. Azatyan in 1969, based on the measurements of 1956.  The restoration work began in 1969 and was completed in 1970.

Photographs Before and After Restoration

From book: "Restoration of Stone Chronicles". Yuliy Tamanian. Published in Armenian with a few pages in the Russian language, Hayastan publisher, 1981

St. Sarkis Church, Armenia

Restoration of Artavazdik Church, Armenia

Artavazdik (or Artavazik) Church of 7th-8th centuries is located in the village of Byurakan of Ashtarak region. Restoration of this church began in 1958 and was completed in 1959.

Photographs Before and After Restoration

From book: "Breathing New Life into Ancient Monuments". Yuliy Tamanian. Published in Armenian with a few pages in the Russian language, Hayastan publisher, 1988

Artavazdik (Artavazik) Church, Armenia

Restoration of Gndevank Monastery, Armenia

Gndevank monastery, built in 936 occupies one of the most picturesque gorges of Arpa River near the resort of Jermuk. The monument reached us as a ruin. The restoration work began in 1963.

Photographs Before and After Restoration

From book: "Restoration of Stone Chronicles". Yuliy Tamanian. Published in Armenian with a few pages in the Russian language, Hayastan publisher, 1981

Gndevank Monastery, Armenia

Dr. Alexander Tamanyan - Grandson of Alexander Tamanian

Dr. Alexander Tamanyan (1942-2005) was a great patriot of Armenia, just like his father Gevorg and his grandfather, brilliant architect Alexander Tamanian (senior). Just like them, he was honest and noble. Those who knew him, remember him as a very intelligent, brave, kind and compassionate man. Alexander had three children and was a beloved grandfather and a wonderful friend.

Alexander Tamanyan (1942-2005)

Alexander was a talented, renowned physicist with a PhD in physics and mathematical sciences, the author and co-author of 75 scientific works, the head of the underground low-background laboratory at Yerevan Institute of Physics, founder of the laser laboratory at the same institute in the late 1990s. He always worked to propel Armenia forward.

Alexander was also a war hero, fighting heroically in Artsakh (Karabakh) war (1991-1994). He showed enormous bravery and heroism while fighting in the Liberation army. For his bravery, Alexander Tamanyan was awarded a medal "For Courage" and a commemorative medal "The Eagle".

Is there an "Alexander Tamanian Museum" in Yerevan?

Alexander's mission in life was to see a house-museum for his grandfather become a reality. The way in which house-museums in Armenia are created varies but usually the renowned person has a house where they have lived during their life and it can operate as a museum later. Another way is through the government's allocation of a suitable place for a museum. During architect Alexander Tamanian's lifetime, the government officials had a desire to build a house for him and he even created a design for it. Funds were even allocated but being a great patriot, architect Tamanian said that the project of the Opera House needs the funds more then him. He was a very modest and humble person and never demanded any special treatment. His large family of 8 people lived in a tiny 1 bedroom flat. Since then and untill now, there is no family home in Yerevan which could become a museum of Alexander Tamanian!

The previous Alexander Tamanian Museum-Institute operated from 2001-2016

Alexander's father Gevorg and uncle Yuliy, who were both renowned architects, did not live to see their dream of a museum for their father become a reality. They left this world with a sense of injustice and powerlessness. Decades later, mainly due to Alexander's huge effort, the government of Armenia passed a resolution to open an Alexander Tamanian Museum in Yerevan. The Alexander Tamanian Museum-Institute operated from 2001-2016. Although the museum's funding was very limited and the hall provided was not entirely convenient, the Museum was very popular with locals and visitors alike. Alexander Tamanyan became the first Director of the Museum and worked tirelessly to present his grandfather's works to the public. Upon Alexander's death in 2005, his son architect Haik Tamanyan took on the enormous responsibility as Museum-Institute's Director and successfully continued to preserve and showcase the vast archive of Alexander Tamanian.

However in 2016 the museum was closed. The explanation was that it has been joined with the general museum of architecture, they even named this formation after Alexander Tamanian. However, in reality, the vast material of Alexander Tamanian Museum-Institute cannot be accommodated in the general museum of architecture. Not only that, Alexander Tamanian just like all other significant cultural greats of Armenia - poets, musicians, writers, painters, composers, artists, sculptors - deserves to have his own museum! His creations are symbols of Yerevan, the capital city was planned by him and it would be appropriate for the government to provide or build a House-Museum to justly honour his memory.

Thus currently there is no Alexander Tamanian Museum in Yerevan and this is a great shame. We live in hope.

Dr. Gagik Tamanian- Grandson of Alexander Tamanian

  Gagik Tamanian (b. 1953)

Dr. Gagik Tamanian is the eldest son of Yuliy Tamanian. He holds a PhD in Physics and Mathematics from Moscow State University and has successfully taught at Yerevan State University, high schools in Australia and the UK before retiring.  From his famous grandfather, Gagik Tamanian has inherited a love of classical music, singing and a passion for serving the community. For eleven years Gagik was a member of the Armenian State Academic Choir, conducted by the legendary maestro Hovannes Chekijian. After immigrating to Melbourne, Australia, Gagik had volunteered as a conductor of Zvartnots Armenian Church Choir with his wife Takouhi Tamanian (nee Vartanian), who supported the choir as the piano accompanist for 9 years. Serving the Armenian community and organizing concerts and events has been a huge part of Gagik's life. Zvartnots Choir achieved great success and had the honour of performing with Hovannes Chekijian himself, whom Gagik invited to Melbourne specifically for the Choir's annual concert in 2003! Gagik Tamanian has also conducted St Sarkis Church Choir in London for 7.5 years. Since the closure of the Alexander Tamanian Museum-Institute, Gagik has been fighting for justice in honour of his remarkable grandfather.

Gagik Tamanian has made it his life's purpose to re-open the Alexander Tamanian Museum. Since 2016 he has been vocal, active and tireless in fighting for justice, writing many articles and speaking out on the radio and television in Armenia. With family and community support, Gagik has been urging the Armenian Government to pass a resolution to establish a new Alexander Tamanian Museum. There is still no answer but we remain hopeful that the day will come when there is a dedicated House-Museum for Alexander Tamanian, a great Master, Person and Patriot. Alexander Tamanian and his buildings will always remain loved by the people.

 Gagik Tamanian can be contacted via email:

Gayane Karamyan (nee Tamanyan) - Granddaughter of Alexander Tamanian

Gayane Tamanyan (1944-2005)

Gayane Tamanyan was the daughter of Gevorg Tamanian and granddaughter of Alexander Tamanian. Inspired by their work, she chose architecture as her profession and devoted her whole life to it.  She was a talented architect in her own right, who graduated from the Polytechnic Institute in Yerevan in 1969 and worked under her married name - Gayane Karamyan.

Major projects:
  • Reconstruction and overhaul of the Government House's building No. 1 in Yerevan
  • Reconstruction and re-equipment of the Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Alexander Spendiaryan in Yerevan
  • Overhaul of the Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall in Yerevan
  • Extension to the building of the Choreographic School in Yerevan
  • Extension to the department store building in the Leninsky district of Yerevan
  • Club in Sosa
Gayane was a loving wife of doctor Samvel Karamyan, a great mother of two sons and a beloved grandmother.

The beautiful Opera and Ballet Theatre, Yerevan

Interiors of the Opera and Ballet Theatre, Yerevan

Aram Khachaturian Concert Hall, Yerevan

Exquisite interior of the theatre

Beautiful side view of the Opera and Ballet Theatre, Yerevan

The stunning chandelier at the Opera and Ballet Theatre, Yerevan


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