The second largest city in Armenia, Gyumri has a dynamic history that in the 19th century made it one of the most populous cities in the region. Visited by Xenophon, Alexander Pushkin, and Czar Nicholas I, Gyrumi has been a lynchpin of Armenian culture and politics for thousands of years — an urban settlement with Greek or Achaemenid origin going back to the fifth century BCE. Today, in addition to being home to some of Armenia’s most impressive museums, including the more than 700 works at the Aslamazyan Sisters Gallery, but Gyumri continues to play a pivotal role in Armenian folk music, considered the heart of the tradition throughout the nation. The pride of Gyumri is the imposing Black Fortress (Sev Berd), a curious, round fortification meant to protect from 19th century Russians and Ottomans.


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Black Fortress

Sev Berd, or Black Fortress, is a round structure made of black stone and sits upon a hilltop. It lies five miles from the Turkish border, built in response to the Russo-Turkish war. Today the imposing fortress can be observed from the outside as it is under renovation to become a concert hall.

Kumayri Historic District

This small district is the oldest part of Gyumri, composed of over a thousand buildings dating back to the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. The history of the district can be seen across the various architectural styles from Neoclassical to modernist and immense Soviet boulevards and squares.


Gyumri’s open-air shuka, market, is worth a look for those in town. It is among the largest in Armenia, crammed with stalls hawking piles of fruit, coffee grinders, cognac bottles, cheeses and cured meats, bread, and more. Along the pedestrian-only Ryzhkov street, local artists sell their paintings, wood carvings, and tufa stone carvings, while art and jewelry can be found at the gold market on Aragats street.

Victory Park and Mother Armenia

It is hard to miss the Mother Armenia statue which stands proudly in the western part of the city, yet can be seen from anywhere in Gyumri. Built of bronze in 1975, this statue holds aloft a bushel of wheat in contrast to the similar Mother Armenia statue in Yerevan which wields a sword.

Vartanants Square

This large central town square features several fountains, statues, and benches for people watch. The square is ringed by numerous buildings including Gyumri City Hall, the Church of the Holy Savoir, and the October Cinema Hall, as well as a handful of restaurants and cafes. Notably, Pope Francis delivered a Holy Mass at the square in 2016.

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