Kim and her family are paying a long-anticipated visit to her father Robert's homeland
Armenia, April 2015
Credit: Splash News Online

They might be multimillionaires and showbiz royalty, but back before the Kardashian family’s forebears moved to the U.S., they lived a much more humble life in their native Armenia.

As Kim, her sister Khloé, cousins Kourtni and Kara, and Kim’s husband, Kanye West, and daughter North pay an emotional visit to their father’s ancestral home, the family can’t help but be inspired by those who came before them.

Visiting the Mother Armenia statue in the capital city of Yerevan, Khloé wrote that the memorial “symbolizes peace through strength,” adding that “it can remind viewers of some of the prominent female figures in Armenian history. Who took up arms to help their husbands in their clashes with Turkish troops and Kurdish irregulars.”

While some of their ancestors might have done just that, a search of their immediate family’s history reveals that the reality stars’ great-great paternal grandparents fled their small Armenian village of Karakale and the town of Erzurum (in what is now Turkey) in the early 20th century, at a time when it was ruled by Tsar Nicholas II – the last ruler of Russia.

Their timely departure meant that they escaped the Armenian Genocide that began in 1915 and decimated their villages, and the Russian Revolution that followed two years later.

Kim’s father, Robert Kardashian – a lawyer who died in 2003 and is best known for defending O.J. Simpson – was the son of Helen and Arthur Kardashian, whose grandparents on both sides left Europe for a better life in America in the early 1900s.

Kim was always close to her grandmother Helen, who had blond hair and light green eyes, which Kim said “was where Khloé gets her coloring from.”

“Nana was seriously so much fun!” Kim wrote in a post on her website in 2008, a few months after Helen died.

“She was your typical Armenian grandmother: always cooking the best Armenian meals, our favorite which was this Armenian breakfast called ‘beeshe!’ ” she remembered, explaining that it was a fried pancake topped with lots of sugar.

It’s no doubt with those memories in mind that Kim Tweeted upon her arrival in Armenia on Wednesday that she couldn’t wait “to explore our country and have some yummy food!”

The reality star and her sisters have often spoken about their Armenian roots. Kim was excited in 2011 when she learned the results of a DNA test on Lopez Tonight that revealed she was 94 percent Armenian and six percent Native American. “That explains all the hair,” she joked.

But she also expressed her dismay when her photo appeared on the cover of Turkish Cosmopolitan magazine in April that same year – the same month that Armenia marks the genocide carried out by the Turks (Turkey does not officially recognize the Armenian genocide).

“My Armenian heritage means a lot to me and I’ve been brought up to be incredibly proud of my family’s background and culture,” she wrote on her blog.

Kim and Khloé have repeatedly expressed their excitement over their long-hoped-for visit to Armenia. And when they met with the country’s prime minister earlier this week, “He expressed how proud they are that we are proud Armenians and we have not forgotten our roots!” Kim Tweeted on Thursday. “#NeverForget.”

We’re guessing those Kardashian ancestors would be pretty proud of their great-great grandchildren, too.

The Kardashian Craze Hits Armenia