Gyumri is the second most populous and cultural city in Armenia, located 126 km from Yerevan. Gyumri was originally called Kumayri, later until 1840 - Gyumri, in 1840-1924 - Alexandropol, in 1924-1990 - Leninakan, in 1990-1992 - Kumayri. And already in 1992, it was renamed Gyumri.
Gyumri has been and always will be one of the most visited tourist places in Armenia. That is why this time we decided to refer to the mysterious Gyumri to present it to you with all its charm and cool sights.
Vardanants Square is the central square of Gyumri. Abovyan, Gay, Shahumyan, and Vahan Cheraz streets are adjacent to the square. The square was formerly called the "May Uprising" Square in honor of the failure of the Bolshevik uprising against the First Republic in May 1920. The square was opened in the 1930s, according to Alexander Tamanyan and D. Chislyan's revised plan.
The square is surrounded by several important buildings: Gyumri Municipality, St. Amenaprkich Church, St. Seven Wounds Church, "October" cinema. On the other hand, the square is decorated with fountains and a bronze statue dedicated to the "Battle of Avarayr" erected in 2008.
The Holy Savior Church in Gyumri was built in the 1860s, and the construction was completed in 1973. The architect of the building is Tadeos Antikyan. The church was built in the likeness of the Mother Cathedral of Ani. In 1882, with the help of the Dzitoghtsyans, a small vestibule was built next to the northern front. There was also an Armenian parish school next to the church. The school building was demolished during the Soviet years. In 1932, they tried to demolish the belfry with tanks and then tried to blow it up.
The bell tower was rebuilt in the 1960s. During the Soviet years, it served as the Philharmonic Hall. The church was partially destroyed during the 1988 earthquake. The Church of the Savior was not allowed to be restored for a long time. The goal was to turn it into an earthquake monument. Only in 1995 did they get permission from the former governor of Shirak Ararat Gomtsyan to restore the church together with the great conductor Loris Tchgnavoryan, the architect who restored the church, and Rafik Yeghoyan. And already on June 21, 2014, Garegin II consecrated the crosses of the church, placed them on the dome and the bell tower.
St. Astvatsatsin Church was built in 1874-1886 and is located in the city's central square, called Vardanants. The church is the diocese of Shirak. The church's official name is St. Astvatsatsin, but it is known to the locals as the Seven Wounds in honor of the painting of the Virgin Mariam, which was moved here from Surb Nshan Church. The icon depicts St. Mariam with her seven wounds. The author of the icon is Ghukas the Evangelist.
In 1832, the leader of the monastery is Archimandrite Poghos Janlatyan moved the Icon from Hasankala fortress to Marmashen Monastery. Taking into account the fact that Marmashen Monastery is located near the border, it was decided to move the icon to Harichavank, but upon arriving in Gyumri, the locals did not allow the icon to be taken to Harichavan, so it remained in Gyumri.
The church is made of stone. There was a wooden chapel in the former place of the church, where the above-mentioned picture was once found. The seven wounds in the picture are as follows:
When crossing the street from Vardanants Square, you will immediately find yourself in Khachkar’s Park. The Park was built in 2010 next to the Church of the Savior. Khachkars are carved, the main element of them is the cross, and they often contain additional elements - geometric ornaments, signs of eternity, plant and animal images. Khachkars are typical of medieval Armenian Christian art. These khachkars in Gyumri are placed here in memory of the hundreds of Armenian khachkars destroyed by Azeris in Jugha.
Since 2010, khachkars, their symbolism and mastery have been inscribed on the UNESCO list as intangible cultural heritage.
The Aslamazyan Sisters’ Gallery was opened on November 6, 1987, in the "Kumayri" historical-architectural reserve in Leninakan, on the occasion of the Aslamazyan sisters, donating their works to the city of Leninakan. The gallery is located on Abovyan street, and it is included in the list of immovable cultural monuments of Gyumri history and culture.
The "Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan Sisters’ Gallery" houses a complete collection of the sisters' paintings, graphics, and pottery. About 620 original works donated by the sisters are preserved here. The gallery building was provided to the homeless after the 1988 Gyumri earthquake and reopened in 2004.
Moreover, "Mariam and Yeranuhi Aslamazyan Sisters Gallery" organizes educational programs through training, art therapies, the goals of which are to create an art field in the gallery area, in which the society will be an active participant, regardless of age or gender.
The Black fortress was built in 1834 and is located near the city of Gyumri, Shirak region. Underground roads were built for this fortress. The roads led to the Red Fortress and the monument of Mother Armenia. This fortress is included in the list of historical and cultural monuments of Gyumri. Initially, it was a defense structure of Alexandropol. Moreover, it also served as a military prison.
Numerous excavations and studies were carried out in the area of the fortress. The first studies were made in the second half of the 19th century. As a result of the studies, it became clear that this fortress was the oldest residential part of the city. On the other hand, a small settlement with a sanctuary, a small statue, a bull, a mausoleum of antiquity was discovered. Inside the courtyard are tombs from the 6th-8th centuries BC. In addition, in the area of the fortress, there is a rich cultural heritage, dating from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age.
Beer lovers will find their favorite place in Gyumri, as Gyumri, Ararat, and Aleksandropol beers are produced in the Gyumri beer factory. It was opened in 1970, it is the second-largest beer factory in Armenia. In this area, you can see the historic building of the brewery, which is part of the cultural heritage of Gyumri. Tourists can try the beer at different stages of production, and see how Gyumri beer is filtered and bottled. This place includes many other historical monuments, such as:
Cherkez gorge, which is located next to the historical Russian Red Fortress, has always been a favorite place of rest for the people of Gyumri, but after the earthquake, it was abandoned and forgotten. Only in 1999, architect, businessman Hmayak Gorgyan founded the "Cherkez Gorge" company intending to restore the gorge's former reputation. Ponds were built here; a fish farm was established using the cold water of the springs flowing in the gorge. Visitors taste the fish right next to the pools, enjoying the nature of the gorge, the fresh air, and the cold water.
There are two historical opinions about the toponym of "Cherkez" gorge. According to the first, the name of the gorge is connected with the events of bringing Eastern Armenia into Russia. In the Russian Empire, the Circassians fought against the Russian state for independence, to emigrate to the Ottoman Empire, they pitched tents in this gorge before their organized relocation. According to another version, one of the two Russian regiments that took part in the Russian-Turkish war of 1826-1829 was called Circassian.
Gyumri is famous for its unique culture and way of life, which attracts tourists. Visiting Gyumri, it is definitely worth organizing a visit to the Museum of Folk Architecture, Urban Life and National Architecture, Dzitoghtsunts Museum, where the daily life, culture, and history of Gyumri are presented. The museum is located in the center of the city. Moreover, it is included in the list of immovable monuments of the history and culture of Gyumri.
The Museum of Folk Architecture and Urban Life of Gyumri was founded in 1984. The four Dzitoghts brothers migrated from the village of Dzitogh in Western Armenia, and in 1872 they built this mansion, significant for that time, in Alexandropol.
The museum's exhibition halls show the Alexandropol Autonomy, the most widespread crafts, public life, and caring culture of the period from the 1960s to the 1920s. The interior of the apartments of a certain class of craftsmen from Gyumri has been restored in the exhibition halls of the museum.
The "Hill of Honor" was built in 1856 by the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Caucasus Corps, General Nikolay Muravyov.
In 2010, the "Hill of Honor" was renovated and the Russian Orthodox Church-Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel was reopened. After the renovation, a 13-meter-high monument was erected in front of the wall, on which the names of 155 victims are engraved, entitled "In memory of the victims of the capture of Kars Fortress" (sculptor Boris Mikesh). This is a copy of the monument erected in Kars in 1910, except for the Turkish crescent flag.
The church is named after the Archangel Michael. The church was built of locally hewn stone. The clock is also known as "Plplan Zham" due to its shiny tin dome. The church was consecrated in 1886 by Archbishop Poghos of the Greek-Russian Orthodox Church in Georgia. After the establishment of the Soviet regime in 1920, the chapel was closed. Later, it served as a museum of Armenian-Russian friendship in the 1980s. The structure was damaged by the 1988 earthquake, the exhibits were destroyed. In 1997, the chapel became a Russian Orthodox church named after St. Michael the Archangel.
The Maxim Gorky Park in Gyumri is located in the central part of the city, where Gay Street begins. This is a beautiful, green, spacious area with parks and playgrounds for children. In addition to playgrounds, there are many statues and monuments. The beautiful arched monument built in the Greek style is the best place to take a break from everyday worries, to take photos, and admire the monument of Mother Armenia, which is located near the hill.
The theatrical square of Gyumri is formed by a large yard with sculptures of writers and actors. Tall deer make it more attractive in all seasons. Walking along the avenue, you will see the building of the Academy of Arts and Independence Square.
For centuries, Gyumri has been called a city of crafts and arts. The people of Gyumri are really leaders in the field of theater and cinema. The first opera ever staged, "Anush", was performed in the old building of the Gyumri Theater, which is located in the central park. The modern Gyumri Drama Theater is named after Vardan Achemyan, a famous Armenian director and actor. The latter is located on Sayat-Nova Avenue.
Sergei Dmitry Merkurov, a famous Soviet sculptor, is of Greek-Armenian descent. He was born and educated in Gyumri. His house-museum was opened in Gyumri in 1984 at his father's house. The house was built in 1869 by Merkurov's ancestors. The museum is located on Victory Avenue in Gyumri, next to the Museum of Folk Architecture and Urban Life in Gyumri.
Merkurov's most famous collection is the masks of people who died during his lifetime and world leaders. He is the author of more than 300 masks. The collection of the museum is supplemented with sculptures of famous people: Lev Tolstoy, Hovhannes Tumanyan, composer Nikolay Skryabin, Lenin, Georgi Plekhanov, etc. 30 posthumous masks and 13 sculptures are shown here.
Before his death, Merkurov gave his house to the city as a gift, requesting that it be used for art. The house was damaged by the 1988 earthquake, and although it was restored with the support of the Lincy Foundation in 2003, it is unfortunately in poor condition due to groundwater.
The high value of Gyumri is represented by the famous people who were born here in Gyumri. The most famous actor of all time Mher Mkrtchyan was born in Gyumri. Famous writers Avetik Isahakyan and Hovhannes Shiraz were also born here. That is the reason why a whole street in Gyumri is dedicated to them, it is called Varpetats Street. Moreover, the houses-museums of these famous people are located in this area as well.
We have singled out some of the many museums that are definitely worth a visit. In these museums are preserved samples of ancient times, which will make you feel the breath of those times.
Hovhannes Shiraz House-Museum was founded in 1983 and has been operating since September 2003. It is included in the list of immovable historical and cultural monuments of Gyumri.
The house was dedicated to the great Armenian poet Hovhannes Shiraz in July 1983. However, the poet did not live in this house. He died in March 1984. The building was built in 1886 and was the home of a wealthy merchant. To perpetuate the memory of the poet to preserve the heritage, by the decision of the Armenian government, this house was to become a memorial museum.
The museum preserves Hovhannes Shiraz's personal belongings, manuscripts printed works. The works of famous artists donated to the poet or the museum (Martiros Saryan, Sergey Parajanov, Ara Shiraz, Sipan Shiraz, etc.) are of great value.
The museum has 6 rooms. The first presents information about the poet's childhood. The second room is furnished as it was during Shiraz's lifetime. The other 4 rooms contain the author's creative works, paintings, etc. It is also presented a painting by John Steinbeck, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who thanks Shiraz for the hospitable attitude in Yerevan.
The museum of Mher Mkrtchyan, People's Artist of the USSR, great comedian of the Cinema and Theater, was founded in 2004. On December 20, 2006, the opening took place in a building of historical and architectural value, built in the late 19th century.
The museum displays the costumes and items of the great actor, props used in various films ("Orchestra Boys", "Tango of Our Childhood", "Mimino", "Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves", "Song of the Old Days", "Aybolit-66"). The commode from the movie "Tango of Our Childhood", the barrel from the movie "01-99", the gallon from the movie "The Boys of the Orchestra" are of great value in the museum's collections. Here you can see the great actor's gifts and presents, photos, books, personal belongings about him. There are more than 270 (two hundred and seventy) photos in the museum related to the life and creative activity of the great artist. Caricatures, pictures, letters, samples of documents made by Mher Mkrtchyan have been preserved.
In 2007, Mher Mkrtchyan's granddaughter Iren Terteryan handed over about 1,500 new exhibits to the museum.
Avetik Isahakyan House-Museum has been operating since 1975, in the paternal house of the great lyricist, which was built in 1828 by the poet's grandfather, Nikoghayos Isahakyan.
The poet's office, the Isahakyan living room, the bedroom, the kitchen, the cellar, and the bakery have been restored in the museum.
The furniture of the museum has been preserved as it was during the author's lifetime. Here you can see Isahakyan's rich personal library, the ancient desk, where his first work was born, the wooden children's crib, etc.
Here is the embroidered tablecloth, pillow, the author's favorite coffee pot, a rather large European-style mirror, a 2m high wooden sculpture, which is a sculpture of a famous writer. In the museum, you can get acquainted not only with the relics of the great poet but also with the life of another resident of Gyumri in the last quarter of the 19th century.
The Yuzbashyan residential house is built by the famous Yuzbashyan wealthy family in Alexandropol in the 1880s at the intersection of Tumanyan and Jivan streets. It is a one-and-a-half-story, finely hewn tuff stone structure, a unique structure implemented in the classical architectural style adopted in Alexandropol at that time. It has a large basement. The house has a large yard with a wooden balcony and a fence. The first floor of the building was used as a residential area for different families, and the basement belongs to the Kumayr reserve. The Yuzbashyans' house is impressive due to its excellent architectural solutions and sculptures.
Well, how can we talk about Gyumri without mentioning Poloz Mukuch? Poloz Mukuch was one of the most famous and popular comedians in Gyumri. His jokes and tales have become a symbol for the city, a real source of joke and pride for the inhabitants.
Poloz Mukuch was called "Poloz" because of his height. It is said that he used to park his cart in different parts of the city, selling fruits and seasoning the shop with his endless sweet jokes. Improvised fairy tales based on real events quickly make him famous in Gyumri. He is so dear to the people of Gyumri that countless jokes, sometimes posthumous, are attributed to him.
On October 7, 2012, a bronze statue of Poloz Mukuch, the author of which is Narek Samvelyan, was unveiled in the yard of the Holy Savior Church in Gyumri.
It is also worth noting that Harichavank is also located in the Shirak region. So, during your visit to Gyumri, you can also visit here. Harichavank is located on the rocky promontory at the western foot of Mount Aragats. It is one of the ancient medieval Armenian monasteries. The oldest building was built in the 7th century. It is St. Gregory Church. The main church and the vestibule of the complex were built in the 13th century. The main church of the monastery was built by the order of Zakare and Ivane brothers in 1201, it is a large cross-domed structure. In the 19th century, the monastery became the summer residence of the Catholicos. Of particular interest is the small chapel not far from the monastery complex, built on a rock, which was separated from the general rock mass during the earthquake and in an oblique position, has reached our days almost harmlessly.
The monastery was a center of science. Avetik Isahakyan studied at the famous school operating there in 1887-1889.
According to one of the legends, one of the ruling girls, fleeing from the Seljuks, took refuge in a chapel built on a rock. When the Seljuks tried to take the girl, the rock split in two. The Seljuks, frightened by such a miracle, stepped aside and the girl was saved.
Marmashen monastery complex is located about 2 km northwest of Marmashen village of Shirak region, on the left bank of the Akhuryan river. The monastery was one of the famous religious and cultural centers of medieval Armenia. He had a large Matenadaran, a well-known school.
The monastery consists of two buildings. The monument is based on structures typical of Armenian national architecture. According to the studies, the main church was built by the patriotic prince Vahram Pahlavuni in 988-1029.
There are cave settlements and tombs nearby. About 2 km west of Marmashen on a natural rock are preserved the record of Urartian king Argishti I about his achievements in Shirak. The ruins of Marmashen Fortress are preserved at the height of that rock.
Finally, the Positive Day Tour always organizes tours to the most beautiful, mysterious places in Armenia. Hurry up to register and we will ensure your unforgettable summer vacation.