The city of Gyumri, the second-largest city of Armenia, is located in the north-east of the country. It is the administrative capital of Shirak marz. There are many places of interest in Gyumri and in its vicinity. The amazing 19th century Saint Seven Wounds Church, the Black and Red Fortresses, House-Museums of famous Armenian writers Hovhannes Shiraz and Avetik Isahakyan, and of the great actor Mher Mkrtchyan. Also, here one may see the symbol of Gyumri - “Klklan Mushurba” (the goblet called “Mushurba”, with a strange sound), and statue of Sayat Nova, Armenian poet and musician.
One of the most interesting places in the vicinity of Gyumri is the Jajur village, where one may see the murals of talented Armenian painter Minas Avetisyan. His mural depicting the Marmashen Monastery and the picturesque Arpi Lake can be seen on the wall of “Zvartnots” airport’s new terminal.
The city of Gyumri is located in the fertile Shirak valley, on the left bank of the Akhuryan river, on territory that is 1560 meters above sea level, crossed by the gorges of Jajur, Cherkez and others. The climate here is mainly cold. The annual average temperature is +5.80C, in August - +190C, in January- -9.80C. The lowest temperature recorded was -41 0C, the highest - + 360C. Winter here is usually snowy, however there are many days of sunshine and star-filled nights. The weather is especially pleasant in spring and autumn. The air here has curative powers - it is pure and free from dust. There are significant reserves of natural building materials (tuff, basalt) in the city and nearby.
There are fields of fertile black soil here which are excellent for agriculture. Shirak has always been particularly known for the cultivation of grain.
Gyumri has a history dating back to remotest antiquity. The artifacts unearthed during archaeological excavations in the 1930s indicate that 3-4 thousand years ago there was a large agricultural settlement here. In the period of the Armenian Kingdom of Van, in 9th-6th centuries BC, the country located on the area of present-day Gyumri is referred to as Eriakhi (or Eriani) in cuneiform inscriptions. And in the 8th century BC the settlement is mentioned as Kumayri; later it was renamed Gyumri. Then, for centuries, Kumayri-Gyumri did not develop significantly, remaining a typical settlement. Only in the 19th century, when Eastern Armenia became a part of
the Russian Empire, Gyumri developed into a very important city. In 1837 a black fortress was built near the city, which became a major Russian fortress protecting the Russian Empire from the Ottoman Empire. The same year Russian Czar Nicholas I visited Gyumri and renamed the town Alexandropol, in honor of his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna.
Within a short period Alexandropol developed and grew to become not only a frontier post, but one of important trade and handicraft centers.
When in 1898 the railway connecting Alexandropol and Tiflis was built, which in 1906 was extended from Alexandropol to Yerevan, the city became an important railway hub, which also contributed to the economic development of the city.
In 1924, the name of the city was changed to Leninakan. During the period of Soviet rule Leninakan was further constructed, expanded and flourished. Within a short period of time the population of the city increased several times, and it was more than 200 thousand before the earthquake.
The economic development of the city reached extremely high levels. However, on 7 December 1988 the devastating earthquake centered in Spitak destroyed Leninakan within a few minutes. The entire industrial capacity of the city was destroyed. The earthquake took more than 17 thousand human lives.
After the earthquake, reconstruction began, but with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Armenia's economic blockade, progress was seriously impeded.
In 1991, after Armenia gained independence, Leninakan was again renamed Gyumri. However, the process of reconstruction was quite slow, and until recent times Gyumri was known as a "disaster zone". Reconstruction was mainly supported by the benefactors from the Armenian Diaspora. Through hard and dedicated work the Gyumri of today is a reconstructed, modern and comfortable city, almost without ruined buildings.
Cultural centers, theaters, libraries, museums, sports complexes, schools, parks, playgrounds have been constructed and reconstructed. Life has returned to its normal course.
Today Gyumri has become an important educational and cultural center of Armenia. There is a State Pedagogical University named after Mikael Nalbandyan. There are branches of the Yerevan State Architectural University, of the Armenian State University of Economics.
There are also non-state vocational institutions and centers of creativity, trade schools, libraries, House-Museums. Gyumri is the birthplace of many cultural workers, writers, such as actor Mher Mkrtchyan, writers Avetik Isahakyan and Hovhannes Shiraz and others.
The city of Gyumri, known for its rich tradition of sports, has made major contributions to the success of sports in Armenia. Gyumri is one of the world’s most athletic cities. It is well known for producing many prominent weightlifters, such as World and European weightlifting champions Yurik Vardanyan and Oksen Mirzoyan, world champion Tigran Martirosyan, World Champion in weightlifting Nazik Avdalyan, world champions in wrestling father and son Levon and Arsen Julfalakyan, Artur Aleksanyan and others. Also, one of the strongest football clubs in Armenia, the Shirak Football Club, was founded in the city of Gyumri. Several times the Shirak Football Club has become the champion of Armenia, and has also been successful on an international scale.
The color of Gyumri is varied and interesting. Modern Gyumri is a mixture of old and new. There are many 19th century houses in the center of the town - the city’s historic district now under architectural protection.
Traditional cuisine has a special place in Gyumri. Its delicious diversity will not leave anyone indifferent. In 2013 one of the symbols of Gyumri, the statue of Mushurba, was constructed in the city. Mushurba is a water goblet that keeps the temperature of water cool. It has become a tradition for the people in Gyumri to give mushurba to each other as a present.
The people of Gyumri are famous for their sense of humor. Gyumri has always been the capital of humor.
Poloz Mukuch, who lived in Gyumri in the beginning of the last century, became known for his jokes and tales, which were spread around the country and became well known fables and anecdotes.
Gyumri has always been a very important transportation hub. The highways and railroads connect various parts of Armenia and the northern part of Armenia with Georgia.
“Shirak” airport in Gyumri is the second international airport of Armenia.
There are also a number of high quality modern hotel complexes which will satisfy even the most demanding visitors.
Rich history, interesting sites, clean air, immeasurable hospitality of local people, and high quality modern hotels will make for an unforgettable trip to the northern part of Armenia.