You will find a rich heritage of Arts in the Caucasus ranging from the fine craft of carpet weaving to startling modern experiments in painting and theater. Petroglyphs beckon from cliffsides revealing the life of prehistoric man, while ancient churches carved into bedrock testify to ingenuity, spirituality and sheer love of beauty. Museums and galleries display collections of abstract or figurative art, with both traditional and modern influences.
In Baku, Azerbaijan, the newest addition to the arts and culture scene is the YARAT centre. Located in a renovated Soviet era building overlooking the Caspian Sea, it is now a locus for innovative arts in the Caucasus, Central Asia and other neighboring countries. If tradition is more to your taste check out the carpet museum—a striking, modern building that aecho texturally resembles a rolled up carpet, and housing a dizzying collection of gorgeous carpets along with exhibits explaining the history and craft of carpet making.
If you want to see how a museum can become part of the heartbeat of a city, visit the Cascade Complex and the Cafesjian Center for the Arts in Yerevan, capitol of Armenia. The late Mr. Cafesjian was determined to help his country get to its feet after the Soviet exit, and one of his great gifts was renovating this massive, neglected complex into a cultural center for sculptures, installations and rotating shows. It is also a favorite social hang out in Yerevan. From the huge to the intensely personal, a visit to the Parajanov museum showcases the extraordinary creativity and singularity of the Caucasus’ greatest pioneer of cinema, Sergei Parajanov. Going from being a darling of the Soviet film schools, he plummeted to persecution in prisons and labor camps, (even while being lauded by the European critics) but never stopped creating.
The Republic of Georgia has over 100 museums. The National Museum in Tbilisi has an exceptional collection of ancient gold jewelry a fabulous display of Georgia's ages-old tradition of fine metal work. Like Azerbaijan, Georgia has also made significant investment in cutting-edge architecture. The Tbilisi Public Service Hall is a stellar example of the architectural arts in the Caucasus, with its petal-like upper tiers and linked areas reflecting the elimination of formerly endless bureaucracy. The Peace Bridge and the Presidential Palace dome both use light and glass to create symbols of transparency and hope.
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