The northern capital of Armenia, Gyumri, is called the city of crafts and humor. Its flavor can be noticed even while walking around the city. Here you can see houses made of tuff, ride on a phaeton, or look into the Frunzik Mkrtchyan Museum, the memory of which is anxiously kept by the locals. So here are 5 magical reasons why rent a car in Gyumri and go to discover this amazing city right now!
The first thing you notice about Gyumri is its striking architecture. Churches, municipal buildings, and houses all look as if they’ve been blackened by fire. The carbon color is in fact the natural tone of volcanic tuff, stone quarried outside Gyumri and used to construct most of the older buildings. Orange-gold tuff stone is often used to detail windows, doors, and arches. It’s a color combination I’ve never seen before.
1. See tuff houses
It is better to explore Gyumri on foot. Every brick here smacks of history, every door is a work of art. And even the gutters are unusual here. And also the people of Gyumri call their city a small “Armenian Hollywood”, because on these streets many films were shot that is well known to the Soviet audience – “Triangle”, “Piece of Heaven”, “Merry Bus” and “Tango of Our Childhood”.
Almost all houses in Gyumri are made of tuff or, as many Armenians call it, the philosopher’s stone. The outskirts of the city are very rich in this volcanic rock. Perhaps it is thanks to him that the city is famous for its unique buildings, created in the 19th century. According to the director of the Kumayri Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve Stepan Ter-Margaryan, tuff can be red and black, but since its reserves were very limited, this stone can mainly be seen on buildings of the 60-80s.
Over the millennia, the appearance of Gyumri has changed more than once. The last and most devastating earthquake was the 1988 earthquake. But since then, the city has risen from its knees and has been greatly transformed.
2.Visit the Frunzik Mkrtchyan Museum
The popular Soviet actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan was born in Gyumri in the 30th year of the last century, then in Leninakan. From the age of 15 he worked in a textile factory and, secretly from his father, ran to rehearsals for an amateur theater. The actor’s dad has always been against this son’s hobby. However, in spite of everything, Frunzik became an actor. First, he starred in an episode of the film “The Mystery of Lake Sevan” by Alexander Row, then appeared in the film “Thirty-three” by Georgy Danelia, and then played the role of Khachikyan in the famous “Mimino”, which made him a laureate of the State Prize of the Soviet Union.
Everything that you see in the museum belonged to the artist himself – clothes, household items, letters from all over the Union, a toothbrush, and even a napkin from the very restaurant in which Frunzik loved to eat that. Here you will also see a barrel from the film “0199”, for shooting in which Frunzik received the title of People’s Artist of the Armenian SSR, and you can also look at the trumpet from the film “Guys of the Musical Team”. All these things help to preserve the memory of the great compatriot, which every Gyumri resident keeps in his heart.
3. Taste the meat of the bull
A resident of Gyumri Artur Antikyan is known for supplying almost the entire city with kyala – a dish made from a bull’s head. It is prepared only in the northern capital of Armenia. No spices are used in the preparation of kyala because they can spoil the taste. It takes almost nine hours to bake the källah.
It is customary to eat the dish with your hands. It is said that each part of kalla has its own distinct flavor.
4. See the “black” fortress
The Black Tower is considered one of the most important historical and architectural values of Gyumri. It was built in 1834. It was the defensive structure of Alexandropol but was used as a military prison.
After Eastern Armenia became part of the Russian Empire, it became necessary to defend its southern borders. Then, Nicholas, I issued a decree on the construction of a fortress along the borders for 10 thousand officers and soldiers. The former fortress now houses the Kumayri historical and cultural museum reserve. In one of the parts of the exposition, you will see four wells that can still supply the population with drinking water, although they serve only as museum exhibits.
The other part of the exhibition contains documents, photos, and maps of Alexandropol. The hall today serves as a concert venue. Dozens of rooms adjoin it. The roof of the fortress is also worth a visit. It offers a picturesque view of the city. Being here, you feel the full power of Gyumri.