in Shirak

Did you know that the oldest mention of Gyumri is found in Xenophon’s “Anabasis” or that the first Armenian theater was founded in Gyumri and the first opera was shown? Yes, Gyumri is an amazing city in Armenia, which combines modern appearance, ancient history and centuries-old cultural traditions. Still thinking what do you want to do next Weekend?



Your weekend in Gyumri ․․․ Different, with other features in Gyumri. For such a trip we apply to the “City Research Center” NGO, which has developed unique urban routes. Both in Soviet times and today, the city is one of the brightest cultural centers in Armenia. It stands out with its special cuisine, humor, architecture, traditional crafts.


Phone: +374 94 84 44 25, Ashot Mirzoyan

Facebook: @CityResearchCenter


  • The area of Gyumri has been inhabited since ancient times. The earliest settlements discovered and studied to this date, date back to the the beginning of BC 3rd millennium.
  • The first state formation created in the territory of present-day Gyumri is mentioned in an BC 8th century Urartian inscription, found not far from Marmashen. In the inscription Gyumri is named Irdaniun, and is identified with the ancient site of “Kumayri” in the western part of the city, on the left bank of the river called Cherkez canyon.
  • It has a centuries-old culture, from BC to our days.
  • Gyumri later developed in the 19th century, when it became part of Tsarist Russia.
  • The core of the city is the “Kumayri” historical-architectural reserve, where the 19th century buildings are located. Constructed buildings with their characteristic architectural style, built environment representing urban development integrity: churches, museums, residential houses, buildings.


In 1836 the first plan of Gyumri was approved, according to which the city would look like a tetragon, with streets intersecting lengthwise and widthwise.

The construction of the fortress was completed in the same year. In 1837 visiting Gyumri, Emperor Nicholas I founded a Russian church named after St. Alexandra in the fortress and renamed Gyumri Alexandropol.

During 1860-1880, houses built of red tuff became predominant. Due to the use of red tuff, the facades of the houses became more colorful. The joint use of red tuff is peculiar only to that period, as is the widespread use of the “Ghaytan darz” construction way. It implies the presence of white underlined stones between the stones.

After the 1880s, the use of red tuff abruptly ceased, and the white stitching continued to be used in parallel with the polished stitching. At this time, the construction of two-storey multi-apartment houses begins. The European (Russian) influence of the time has been felt since the 1890s. The eye-catching two-story, three-story buildings that have survived to this day were built during that time.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the facades of many buildings were painted and the city gets a unique variety of colors. Although the facades of most of the painted buildings were later cleaned of paint, some of the buildings still show traces of time.

Let’s just end the first day with a city tour. Why? Because the information you will receive while walking around the city must be digested. Visit the first café to analyze the rich information with a cup of coffee. As soon as you leave the cafe, full of new knowledge, you will notice some small details in Gyumri, which were not visible before.


“The legend is that Artavasdes, the son of King Artaxias, who was chained in the abyss of Masis, was an evil spirit that could come out and destroy the world. For that, the blacksmiths hit the slab and strengthened the chains of Artavasdes. Until the end of the 19th century, popular belief attributed to the blacksmith a supernatural power associated with the worship of metal from ancient times. “Steel has been made in the territory of Armenia since the early Urartian, early Armenian times,” says Gagik Martirosyan, a representative of the sixth generation of blacksmiths and awarded the title of “best blacksmith”.

By the way, his workshop is in the restaurant named “Yerankyuni”, where after the master class you can discover the cuisine of Gyumri.

We eat and go to meet another blacksmith.


Phone: + 374 91 30 12 03, Gagik Martrosyan

Facebook: @ Triangle-Gyumri

-From the first glance it sounds strange, but as much as blacksmithing is a handicraft, it is also a form of art. You are dealing with hot metal, you have to be able to create something in a matter of seconds. “Iron is stubborn, it is not so easy to work with it,” says Tatos’ grandson Garik with a smile. In the end, he assures that in the future his son will also continue this family branch.

This profession, which has been passed down from generation to generation, will continue its life, because it is a way of life. Thanks to these generations of blacksmiths, Gyumri was created, which is adored by each of us today. The meeting with them will change something in you, from now on you will walk around Gyumri with a big smile, because you personally know the masters of works that caused your admiration.


Tel. +374 93 320 643, Garik Papoyan

Day two


Alexandropol was one of the major cultural centers of the 19th century and was famous for its skilled craftsmen. The craftsmen were united in separate unions. The origin of the surname of the families was often connected with the craft, which was the main occupation of the given dynasty. For example, Tarzyan is a tailor, Demirchyan is a blacksmith. In the South Caucasus, beyond, Alexandropol blacksmiths, coppersmiths, masons, jewelers, carpet weavers, lace makers, even confectioners and cooks were highly regarded. To this day, many of these trades continue to be valued. Masters from Gyumri are in great demand in Armenia, Russia and Europe.


Gyumri, the city of crafts… We discover the breath and spirit of the craft with our own experience, and the best option is to get acquainted with the local blacksmiths, and while doing that why not create something small from iron with our own hands. Hovhannes’ grandson Hovhannes told that blacksmithing was a respected craft in Ancient Armenia. It was considered to be the craft of the caring people. For Armenians, forging was a symbol of strength and power.

– I have been in the workshop since I was a child, my grandfather taught me to be careful when working with iron, and everything that is created must have the maximum quality.

The gate of the Dzitoghtsyants Museum, the torch of the Station, the torch of the church on 58th Street and many other works were created by this family.


Tel. +374 93 531 777 Hovhannes Mnoyan

Facebook: @Darbnots

This article was created as part of the My Armenia program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Smithsonian Institution. The contents of this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the Smithsonian Institution or the US Government.

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