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Allowing a nation to be reborn

Following the genocide of 1915, the survivors were dispersed among the five continents. After a short independence of two years, the small Armenian Republic was conquered and occupied by the Soviets in 1920. In 1927, the Armenian diplomat and philanthropist, Boghos Nubar, asked Léon Nafilyan to construct a little Armenia at the Cité internationale at the same moment that Alexandre Tamanian, a talented Armenian architect trained in the Russian Empire, built a new “Mother-City”, Yerevan, to make it the capital of Armenia.

In 1927, Boghos Nubar made a donation of three million francs to the Cité internationale to finance the construction of an Armenian pavilion. He wanted to encourage the emergence of a new elite for his people. The Maison des étudiants arméniens was inaugurated on the 16th of December 1930, six months after the death of its founder. At its inauguration, it represented a nation who, ten years earlier, lost its sovereignty. Such a project was an opportunity for its founder, Boghos Nubar Pacha, a philanthropist and son of a famous Egyptian prime minister, to gather the young representatives of a nation dispersed throughout the world in Paris.

The Maison des étudiants arméniens-Fondation Marie Nubar is managed by the Fondation nationale Cité internationale universitaire de Paris.

A façade decorated with carved motifs

The façades are adorned with bas-relief friezes with geometric and floral motifs, medallions and sundials that are inspired by those of the Zvartnots Cathedral (7th century). The tall double columned arches that frame the window bay are connected at the top by arched friezes that are decorated with vegetable motifs. Another horizontal frieze, composed of foliage motifs and includes representations of various animals in its branches, runs along the façades of the building. All of this rich decoration is inspired by certain medieval churches such as The Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Aghtamar Island (10th century) and Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, known as Tigran Honents (13th century) in the town of Ani.

A style destined to perpetuate the splendour of an ancestral artistic culture

The building is the work of the architect Léon Nafilyan who settled in Paris in the 1920s. He designed the project in a style that continues Armenian architectural traditions by borrowing the main characteristics of sculpted decoration that adorn the pavilion’s façades from religious architecture.

Named after the wife of its founder, this building was originally one of the smallest buildings at the Cité internationale. Its style was intended to continue the splendour of an ancestral artistic culture.

Famous alumnus

The famous former resident, Hovhannes Tchekidjian, born on the 23rd of January 1929 in Constantinople, is an internationally-renowned conductor. Under his leadership since 1961, the State Choir of Armenia, now the National Academic Choir of Armenia, has performed all over the world with 67 symphonic orchestras. He directed the National Academic Choir of Armenia during an expceptional concert on the 13th of November 2019 in the Fondation Biermans-Lapôtre festive hall for the building’s 90th anniversary.