Gyumri is the second largest city in Armenia and one that doesnt get as much attention as it deserves. So to place Gyumri in the limelight, here’s a little background to entice you to visit and help you discover Gyumri.
A brief look at history reveals that the roots of this city date back to the 8th century B.C., which competes with Yerevan’s age (turning 2800 in 2018). Gyumri has changed names over the centuries as it has also changed hands from one kingdom to another. Originally it was known as Kumayri during the Urartian period. However in more recent times it was known as Alexandropol in the late 19th century and Leninakan during the Soviet period. Gyumri now stands as the capitol for the Shirak province.
In 1988 the city suffered a massive earthquake. The earthquake epicentre was in the city of Spitak, which itself took a great toll, but unfortunately Gyumri was also hit badly. This, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the start of the neighbouring war meant that Gyumri took many years to rise from the ashes. Today the city presents itself as a Phoenix risen, offering a depth of history and many stories to tell its visitors. Hence giving you even more reason to discover Gyumri.
So you are keen to discover Gyumri! You may ask what is there to see and the answer is: plenty! Here’s a few suggestions of places to visit and things to see in Gyumri:
The oldest part of Gyumri city is known as the Kumayri district. This area is where the city settlement dates back to 5th Century. However most of the buildings today, boasting impressive structures, date to the 1800’s.
Famous for being the center of arts and crafts in Armenia, Gyumri boasts several museums housing the work of different renown Armenian artists. You can find a list of museums here. For instance The Aslamazyan sisters House Museum, pictured below is not only the home of over 700 amazing artworks but the building itself is amazing. Make sure to take note of its highly decorated balconies with intricate wooden lace work.
Another museum worth visiting is the Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life which will also give you a glimpse of lifestyle and culture from the 1800’s. This Museum is right next door to the impressive and newly constructed Cathedral of Holy Martyrs.
There are numerous churches across Gyumri. After all, Armenia being the first Christian nation you wouldn’t expect anything less. Each have there own history and uniqueness. Some have withstood the earthquakes the city has tolerated over the decades and some have been reconstructed like the Church of the Holy Saviour pictured below. This church also has a memorial honouring the victims of the 1988 earthquake.
Another amazing church is the Yot Verk (literally meaning Seven Wounds) refers to the wounds endured by Jesus Christ.
Statues and Monuments
Gyumri is the home to many significant statues and monuments. Some of the significant ones include Vardanants Statue, Bagratunyats and Zoravar Andranik Statue, the later depicted below.
Also you will spot many statues of heroes as well as famous poets and artists throughout the city.
The city market is always a colourful and lively place to visit any time of the year. Tailored to the needs of the locals, this is not a tourist market. As a result you are likely to get a glimpse of the life of the locals. A visit here is sure to result with some amazing photos so make sure you take your camera!
Getting to Gyumri
Gyumri is approximately 120 km from Yerevan. So if travelling from Yerevan the options include:
Catching a local minibus (known as a ‘Marshrutka’) is an experience to do at least once in your travels in this region. From Yerevan, minibuses leave from Kilikia bus station. There is no set schedule. Instead the minibus leaves once it is full. Equally, the last stop is the bus station in Gyumri. The ride costs 1500 AMD per person each way. This ride will take around 2+ hours not including the waiting time for the minibus to fill up.
If you prefer to reach Gyumri from Yerevan with the fastest option, this will be one of your best choices. Shared taxis leave from the same point as the minibuses. The ride takes around 2 hours and the cost is 2500 AMD per person each way.
Car / Driver Hire
If you are time poor or if maximum comfort is a criteria then you may choose to hire a car with driver. Rather than hiring a random driver, the best choice is to make arrangements through your accommodation provider for a reliable rental or driver service. Pricing will vary depending on number of people, type of vehicle and length of stay.
This is the cheapest option to reach Gyumri from Yerevan. 1000 AMD each way is not only a bargain, but you get to enjoy some of the countryside that you wouldn’t see otherwise in a soviet era train. Simply memorable! However this option will take a leisurely 3 hours due to the frequent stops it makes, so take that into account when planning your trip. On the other hand if you are travelling on the weekend, there is a fast train! Price of tickets are 2500 AMD and the ride is only 2 hours.
If you are travelling from Russia or Ukraine, you have an option to arrive by flight to discover Gyumri. The local airport is only 7 km away from the city center and flights are typically cheaper than arriving via Yerevan.
Discover Gyumri in Photos