GYUMRI – THE CULTURAL CAPITAL CITY OF ARMENIA

Gyumri, the second largest city after Yerevan, is located 126 km from the capital of Armenia. The city of Gyumri had several names. Initially it was called Kumayri, then until the first half of the 19th century it was already known to us as Gyumri, under the Russian Empire – Alexandropol, under the Soviet Union – Leninakan. After the collapse of the Union, for a short period of time (1990-1992) it received the name Kumair, but the final settlement was renamed Gyumri.
The city of Gyumri is located in the central part of the Shirak plateau, at an altitude of about 1600 m above sea level, on the left bank of the Akhuryan River. The city borders the Cherkez and Jajuri valleys.

THE HISTORY OF GYUMRI

The settlement of Gyumri has a rich history, because many monuments from the 3rd millennium to the late Middle Ages have been found during archaeological excavations.
Hakob Manandyan associates the first name that the city of Gyumri received, Kumayri, with the Cimmerians. We also received information about the settlement of Kumayri in the works of Xenophon Anabasis.

And for the first time among the manuscripts of Armenian chroniclers, the historian Ghevond provides information about the settlement of Kumayr.
Until the 19th century, the settlement of Kumair did not have a particularly significant role, because for centuries it was under the rule of the Persians, then under the rule of the Turks.
However, everything changes after the first Russian-Turkish war, when, even before the final transition of Eastern Armenia to the rule of the Russian Empire, the settlement of Kumair came under the control of the latter and was named Gyumri.
However, after some time it was again named after the wife of Nicholas I, Alexandria, and began to be called Alexandropol.
Before the establishment of Soviet power in Armenia, Alexandropol was active in revolutionary ideas; the first revolutionary groups and organizations were formed here.
In 1920, after the establishment of Soviet power, Alexandropol was renamed Lenin – Leninakan.
The city of Lenin played a big role during the Soviet Union, and during the Great Patriotic War alone, about 9,000 people took part in the war. Despite the development of the Soviet Union period, Leninakan had one of the painful pages in the history of Armenia, the 9-magnitude earthquake on December 7, 1988, which left a big mark on the architecture and life of the people of Leninakan (Gyumri).
More than 80% of the entire living area collapsed]. The earthquake occurred on a workday, killing many schoolchildren and workers. Gyumri gave more than 17 thousand victims. Being an industrial city of the country, as a result of the earthquake, the 40% of the whole industrial work was stopped, as a result of which Armenia had economic problems for a long time. To alleviate this situation a little, help was organized for us from all over the world, and famous Armenian people were next to us, such as the famous chansonnier Charles Aznavour.
After Armenia gained independence, when Leninakan was named Kumayri and after some time became the final Gyumri, for many years traces of the earthquake were still preserved in the form of ruins, because all restoration work was carried out thanks to the help of philanthropists.

However, since 2013, Gyumri has been almost devoid of ruins and has been improved. The “October” cinema in Gyumri has been renovated and is now operational. The former Kirov Street of the city was landscaped and renamed Ryzhkov Avenue. A new building of the Gyumri municipality was built, located on Vardanants Square. The main streets of the city have been restored.

Vardanants Square is very beautiful at night, because when it gets dark, the lights of the city hall and the Church of the Holy Seven Wounds come on.

 

THE CULTURE OF GYUMRI

Gyumri is a rich cultural and colorful city; It has been considered a city of arts and crafts since ancient times. Thanks to the hands of Gyumri craftsmen, dozens of churches and buildings were built and decorated, many of which have reached us. While walking in the city, you can come across various statues, monuments, parks and beautiful gardens.
Gyumri is one of the unique cities whose architecture was based on the architectural styles of the cities of Ani and Kars in Western Armenia.

Craftsmanship was developed in the city. Each of the crafts came out with a symphony and had its own flag. The Pottery, Forge, and Sewing Industries were developed. The flags of those can be seen in the Museum of Folk Architecture and Urban Life in Gyumri. Gyumri has also been rich in the culture of folk songs.
Famous Armenian cultural figures such as: USSR actor Mher Mkrtchyan (Mimino, The Captive of the Caucasus), poets Hovhannes Shiraz, Avetik Isahakyan, artist Minas Avetisyan and others are born in Gyurmri.

ARCHITECTURE AND CITY PLANNING OF GYUMRI

Gyumri is famous for its unique architecture. Gyumri’s architecture took its style from Kars, and quite similar buildings can be found between the two cities. Most of the buildings in Gyumri are decorated with sculptures, they have windows and entrances bordered by bow-shaped arches. The buildings were mainly built with black and red tuff.
Dprevank, built in the 7th century, is one of the interesting structures from the point of view of architecture.
After Armenia joined Russia, Kumayri was built according to advanced Russian urban planning principles. Between the Gyumri and Akhuryan rivers, a fortress with towers built from black tuff is standing on the hill.
The churches Holy Saviour or Amenaprkich (1858-1876), Saint Astvatsatsin, Saint Nshan, Saint Gevorg, “Hill of Honor” (Russian) churches were built in the 19th century.

Churches, many of which are located close to each other, play a major role in the external appearance of the city. The main church of Gyumri is the Holy Seven Wounds church, built in 1874-1886, located in the central square of the city. Directly in front of the Holy Seven Wounds Church is the Holy Savior Church, which is a complete copy of the Ani cathedral. Other churches in the city of Gyumri are Saint Nshan, Saint Grigor Lusavorich or the Church of Geghtsons, etc.
In addition to the Churches, there are 3 standing fortresses in Gyumri city: the Black Fortress, the Red Fortress and the Horseshoe Fortress.
Buildings of cultural importance are considered to be the rural and urban residential houses, gates, doors of Alexandrapol.

Theater, sports, music, art, education have been developed, which still preserve their characteristics and traditions formed over decades.
No matter how much pain the city of Gyumri has seen, it is considered a city of humor, always having jokes in everyday life. Gyumri, with its unique traditions, way of life and psychology, as well as dialect, patriotism, humor, wit, humor, and “illegal” expressions, has created a unique environment that gave birth and food to entertainment.
The city of Gyumri is one of the must-visit places in Armenia and is considered one of the visiting cards.

The article was compiled based on observations and materials collected by the ArmLand club.

Author of photos: Artyom Martirosyan and Vahagn Grigoryan

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