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From top left:Gyumri skyline with Mount Aragats • Mother ArmeniaCathedral of the Holy Mother of God • Dzitoghtsyan MuseumIndependence Square • Sev Berd FortressVartanants Square and Gyumri City Hall
Flag of Gyumri
Official seal of Gyumri
Nickname(s): Hayrakaghak (Father-city)
Gyumri is located in Armenia
Location of Gyumri in Armenia
Coordinates: Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Country  Armenia
Marz Shirak
Founded 5th century BC as Kumayri
rebuilt in 1837 as Alexandropol
 • Mayor Samvel Balasanyan
 • Total 54 km2 (21 sq mi)
Elevation 1,509 m (4,951 ft)
Population (2011 cenus)
 • Total 121,976
 • Density 2,300/km2 (5,900/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Gyumretsi
Time zone GMT (UTC+4)
Postal code 3101-3126
Area code(s) (+374) 312
Vehicle registration 45 am
Sources: Population[1]

Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found. Gyumri (Armenian: Գյումրի), is the second largest city in Armenia and the capital of the Shirak Province in the northwestern part of the country. It is around 126 km north of the capital Yerevan. As of the 2011 census, the city had a population of 121,976, down from 150,917 reported at the 2001 census. Its name has been changed several times. It was originally founded as Kumayri, later re-founded as Alexandropol (Russian: Александрополь; Armenian: Ալեքսանդրապոլ) between 1837 and 1924 during the Russian rule, then Leninakan (Armenian: Լենինական; Russian: Ленинакан) between 1924-90, then as Gyumri.


Ancient history

File:Old Gyumri 03.PNG
Old Alexandropol with the Holy Saviour Church (1859-1873)

The region of Gyumri is mentioned as Kumayri in the historic Urartian inscriptions dating back to the 8th century B.C. The first settlement at the location of modern-day Gyumri is believed to have been founded during the 5th century BC, ca. 401 BC, by Greek colonists.[2]

An alternative theory suggests that the city was founded by the Cimmerians, based on the fact that Cimmerians conquered the region in 720 BC and that the original name of the city was Kumayri, which bears phonetic resemblance to the word used by ancient Armenian in reference to Cimmerians.[3] Historians believe that Xenophon passed through Gyumri during his return to the Black Sea, a journey immortalized in his Anabasis.[4]

During the Middle Ages, Kumayri was known as a large and important settlement. According to the Armenian scholar Ghevond the Historian, the town was a centre of Armenian rebellion led by Artavazd Mamikonian against the Islamic Arab Caliphate, between 733 and 755. Being controlled by several Turkic tribes and Persian dynasties, the town had lost its significance during the following centuries, until the beginning of the 19th century.[citation needed]

At or just south of Gyumri there was a the Shuragel Sultanate. It is mentioned in various places, but there does not seem to be a good account.[vague] Conform the Russian victory in the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and the outcoming Treaty of Gulistan of 1813, it was ceded to Russia by Qajar Iran.[citation needed]

19th century

Gyumri and the surrounding territories became part of the Russian Empire after the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) and the resulting Treaty of Turkmenchay of 1828. The Russians controlled over the town on 12 June 1804, around 25 years earlier than the rest of Eastern Armenia. During the period of the Russian rule, Gyumri became one of the developing cities in the Transcaucasus. In 1829, in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War, there was a big influx of Armenian population, as around 3,000 families who had migrated from territories in the Ottoman Empire -in particular from the towns of Kars, Erzurum, and Doğubeyazıt- settled in and around Gyumri. The Russian poet Alexander Pushkin visited Gyumri during his journey to Erzurum in 1829.

In 1837 Russian Tsar Nicholas I arrived in Gyumri and changed the name into Alexandropol. The name was chosen in honour of Tsar Nicholas I's wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, who had changed her name to Alexandra Fyodorovna after converting to Orthodox Christianity.

A major Russian fortress was built on the site in 1837. Alexandropol was finally formed as a town in 1840 to become the centre of the newly established Alexandropol Uyezd, experiencing rapid growth during its first decade. In 1849, the Alexandropol Uyezd became part of the Erivan Governorate. The town was an important outpost for the Imperial Russian armed forces in the Transcaucasus where their military barracks were established (e.g., at Poligons, Severski, Kazachi Post).

Alexandropol became one of the major centres of the Russian troops during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78. After the establishment of the railway station in Alexandropol in 1899, the town witnessed a significant growth, becoming the largest city in Eastern Armenia. By the end of the 19th century, Alexandropol was home to 430 shopping stores as well as several workshops and cultural institutions.

20th century and beyond

In 1902, the first bank in the city was opened. Until the sovietization of Armenia in 1920, Alexandropol had 31 manufacturing centres including beer, soap, textile, etc. After the October Revolution of 1917 and the Russian withdrawal from the South Caucasus, the Ottoman forces launched a new offensive capturing the city of Alexandropol on 11 May 1918, during the Caucasus Campaign in World War I. However, the Ottomans withdrew from the city on 24 December 1918, as a result of the Armistice of Mudros.

On 10 May 1920, the local Bolshevik Armenians aided by the Musilim population, attempted a coup d'état in Alexandropol against the Dashnak government of Armenia. The uprising was suppressed by the Armenian government on May 14 and its leaders were executed. However, during the Turkish-Armenian War, Turkey attacked Alexandropol and occupied the city on 7 November 1920, as a result of the Battle of Alexandropol. After the battle, the Turkish forces were headquartered in Alexandropol. Turks presented the Republic of Armenia with an ultimatum that Armenians were forced to accept, otherwise Turkey would have invaded the capital Yerevan from their headquarters in Alexandropol. Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Alexandropol to stop the Turkish advance towards Yerevan, to put an end to the Turkish-Armenian War. However, the Turkish forces withdrew from Alexandropol after the Treaty of Kars in October 1921.[5]

Being under the Soviet rule, the name of the city was changed in 1924 to Leninakan after the deceased Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. The city suffered an earthquake in 1926, when many of its significant buildings were destroyed including the Greek church of Saint George. Leninakan became a major industrial centre in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and its second-largest city, after the capital Yerevan. The city suffered major damage during the 1988 Spitak earthquake, which devastated many parts of the country. The earthquake occurred along a known thrust fault with a length of 60 kilometers (37 mi). Its strike was parallel to the Caucasus range and dipped to the north-northeast. Bruce Bolt, a seismologist and a professor of earth and planetary science at the University of California, Berkeley, walked the fault scarp in 1992 and found that the vertical displacement measured 1 m (3 ft 3 in) along most of the length with the southwest end reaching 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in).[6]

The earthquake had a disastrous impact on the city, as many buildings are still not recovered. According to Armenian government sources, around 3,500 residents of Gyumri remain homeless.[citation needed]

At the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the city was renamed Kumayri between in 1990 until 1992 when it was finally given the name Gyumri. The Russian 102nd Military Base is located in the city.[citation needed]

Gyumri was celebrated as the Capital of Culture of the Commonwealth of Independent States for 2013. Major events took place in the city on 30 June 2013.[citation needed]

On 12 January 2015, Valery Permyakov, a serviceman from the Russian 102nd Military Base, murdered seven members of an Armenian family in Gyumri.[citation needed]

Geography and climate

Gyumri is 126 km north of the capital Yerevan at the central part of the Shirak plateau. It has an approximate height of 1550 metres above sea level. The Akhurian River passes through the western suburbs. The Shirak plateau is surrounded with the Pambak Mountains from the east and Aragats volcanic range from the south. The city of Gyumri is 196 km away from the Black Sea. The surrounding lands of the city are reach with tuff, basalt and clay. Gyumri has a semi-arid continental climate, characterized with cold and snowy winter where the minimum temperature could fall down to −41 °C (−42 °F). On the other hand, summer in Gyumri is relatively hot with temperatures could reach up to 36 °C (97 °F). The annual precipitation averages 500 millimetres (20 in).

Climate data for Gyumri
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 9.2
Average high °C (°F) −3.7
Daily mean °C (°F) −9.5
Average low °C (°F) −14.8
Record low °C (°F) −41.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 23.7

Main sites

File:Old Gyumri by Asbed.jpg
Araks Hotel at the Kumayri historic district
File:Old Gyumri.jpg
Poloz Mukuch beerhouse
Church of the Holy Saviour being reconstructed after the 1988 earthquake
File:Church in Kazachi post 06.JPG
Saint Arsenije Russian church

As an old town, Gyumri has a rich history and a unique style of architecture. Unfortunately, the city lost many of its historical and cultural buildings after the disastrous earthquake in December 1988.

Throughout the centuries Gyumri was labelled as the "city of trades and arts", famous for its schools, theaters, and gusans. In 1912, Gyumri was home to the first opera show ever staged in Armenia. It is also home to the first Armenian opera theatre opened in 1923.

Kumayri historic district

With more than a thousand buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, the historic district of Kumayri represents the old part of Gyumri. The district is one of few places in the Republic of Armenia, and the world, with authentic urban Armenian architecture. Almost all the structures of the Kumayri district have survived two major earthquakes, in 1926 and 1988. The historic district of Kumayri occupies the central part of modern-day Gyumri.

The archaeological excavations during the 20th century have shown that the area has been populated since at least the third millennium BC. Many graveyards and dwellings have been found. The first recorded mention of Kumayri is from 773 and describes the revolt against Arab domination led by prince Artavazd Mamikonian that resulted in the revival of Armenian statehood one century later.

During the reign of the Bagratuni kings of Armenia in the 10th century, Kumayri has developed into a well-built modern town to become a centre of trade for the entire region.

Sev Berd Fortress

Sev Berd or the Black Fortress (Armenian: Սև բերդ; Russian: Чёрная Кре́пость, Chornaya Krepost) is an abandoned Russian imperial fortress in Gyumri built between 1834 and 1847, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of the Turkish border. It was erected in response to the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829. It is a national cultural heritage monument in Armenia.[8]


  • Marmashen Monastery of the 10th century: located 6 km northwest of Gyumri.
  • Church of the Holy Saviour or Surp Amenaprkich, constructed between 1859-1873: designed to resemble the Cathedral of Ani. The church was heavily damaged by the 1988 Spitak earthquake and is currently under reconstruction.
  • Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God: also known as Seven Wounds of the Holy Mother of God, constructed between 1873-1884. Currently, it is the seat of the Diocese of Shirak of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
  • Surp Nshan or Holy Sign Church: built in 1870.
  • Saint Nikolai the Wondeworker Russian Orthodox Church, also known as "Plplan Zham" (the Shimmering Chapel), built in 1879-1880.
  • Saint Arsenije Russian Church of 1910, commonly known as the church of Kazachi Post.
  • Saint Gregory the Illuminator's Church of Gyumri.
  • Saint Jacob of Nisibis Church: or Surp Hakob Mtsbinetsi Church built in 2005.
  • Cathedral of the Holy Cross of the Catholic Armenians (under construction).

Other sites

The restoration process of the damaged buildings of Gyumri has been spearheaded by Earthwatch to preserve the city's unique architecture.[9]


During the pre-Soviet era, Alexandropol was considered the third largest trade and cultural centre in Transcaucasia after Tiflis and Baku (Yerevan would not rise to prominence until being proclaimed as the capital of independent Armenia in 1918 and Armenian SSR in 1920).[10] At the end of the 19th century, the population of Alexandropol has grown up to 32,100 inhabitants, with a majority of Armenians.

The economy of Gyumri is mostly depended on construction sector, tourism and banking services. Industry has a big share in the domestic product as well. The most important industrial activities are the production of building materials (tufa and basalt), hosiery and textile manufacturing, and food industries. Gyumri is home to the beer manufacturers Gyumri Brewery owned by the Sovrano company. The factory produces lager beer under the brands Gyumri and Ararat.[11] The other beer producer in Gyumri is Aleksandrapol Brewery.[12]


Air transportation

Gyumri is served by the international Shirak Airport, about 5 km to the southeast of the city centre. It was inaugurated in 1961 and is the second largest airport in Armenia. It has scheduled flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

At the beginning of 2006, the government of Armenia felt the importance of having a second international airport, when adverse weather conditions meant that many flights had to be diverted from Yerevan's Zvartnots International Airport into Gyumri's Shirak Airport. New air traffic control equipment allowed airport workers to identify planes in a 400 km radius.[13]


The railway junction of Gyumri is the oldest and the largest one in Armenia. It was formed in 1897 and the first railway link to Alexandropol that connected the city with Tiflis was completed in 1899. The rail line was then extended from Alexandropol to Yerevan (in 1902), Kars (in 1902), Jolfa (in 1906), and Tabriz. As a result, Alexandropol became an important rail hub.

As of 2015, the Gyumri Railway Station operates regular trips to Yerevan, Tbilisi and (in the summer season) Batumi. The South Caucasus Railway CJSC, is the current operator of the railway sector in Armenia.[citation needed]

Education and religion

File:St-Hagop gyumri.jpg
Saint Jacob of Nisibis Church

Gyumri has a large number of educational institutions. It is considered the main cultural and educational centre of northern Armenia. The city has the following higher educational centers:

The city is home to 47 public education schools, 23 nursery schools and 7 special schools for music regularly operating in the city. The majority of the population in Gyumri belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God (Sevene Wounds Cathedral) in Gyumri is the seat of the Diocese of Shirak of the Armenian Church.[citation needed]

The Armenian Catholic Church has a tiny community in Armenia headed by the Eparchy of Armenia and Eastern Europe, based in Gyumri.[14] There are around 16,000 Armenian Catholics in the Shirak Province. The seat of the eparchy is the Surp Khach Cathedral in Gyumri.[15]

The presence of the small Russian Orthodox community along with the Russian military base personnel is marked with the church of Saint Nikolai the Wonderworker and the church of Saint Arsenije.[16]


Gyumri has a major contribution in the sports life of Armenia. Many Olympic and world champion wrestlers, weightlifters and boxers are from Gyumri. The city is notable for its worldwide champions in individual sports, such as Robert Emmiyan in long jump, Yurik Vardanyan and Nazik Avdalyan in weightlifting and Ara Abrahamian in Greco-Roman wrestling.

The city is home to the Armenian football club FC Shirak. They play their home games at the Gyumri City Stadium, the oldest football stadium in Armenia, dating to 1924. Shirak are one of the most popular football teams in Armenia, having won the championship of the Armenian Premier League four times, with the most recent one in the 2012-13 season. Shirak have also won the Armenian Independence Cup once. The native of Gyumri and former Shirak player Artur Petrosyan is the all-time leading scorer for the Armenia national football team.

Aragats FC was the second football club that represented the city. However, the club was dissolved in 2002 due to financial difficulties. The Gyumri Football Academy of the Football Federation of Armenia was opened on 13 September 2014. It is home to four natural-grass and two artificial turf regular-sized football training pitches.[17]

Many special sport schools are serving the young generation of Gyumri such as the School of Gymnastics, the School of Athletics named after Robert Emmiyan, the School of Football named after Levon Ishtoyan and other special schools of boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, martial arts and chess.

Gyumri is a hometown to many former and current World, Olympic and European champions in several types of sports, including:


File:Plplan zham.JPG
Saint Nikolai the Wondeworker Russian Orthodox church

The population of Gyumri has gradually grown since 1840 after gaining the status of town. A huge decline of the population was due to the disastrous earthquake of 1988. The residents here have a distinct look and style, and a boundless pride in their city. Their own dialect is very close to Western Armenian.[citation needed]

Population and ethnic groups chart of Gyumri throughout history:

Year Population Armenians (%) Russians (%) Others (%)
1897 [18]
21,771 (71.1%)
5,157 (16.8%)
3,688 (12%): 1,090 Azeris, 415 Jews, 316 Lithuanians, 266 Greeks, 127 Georgians
1926 [19]
37,520 (88.7%)
3,634 (8.6%)
1, 159 (2.7%):
62,159 (91.8%)
4,249 (6.3%)
1,321 (1.9%)
1959 [20]
100,960 (93.1%)
5,630 (5.2%)
1,856 (1.7%)

^a Called Tatars prior to 1918


Gyumri is known as the 'city of crafts and arts'.[21]

The first opera performance in Armenia (Anoush by Armen Tigranian) took place in Alexandropol in 1912. In 1865, an amateur theatre group in Gyumri performed H. Karinyan's "Shushanik". Vardan Ajemian State Drama Theatre was founded in 1928 in Gyumri. Prominent directors Ruben Simonov and Vardan Ajemian, actors Mher Mkrtchyan, Azat Sherents and Varduhi Varderesyan worked in theatre. The theatre's new building was opened in 1972. The artistic director is Nikolay Tsaturyan. Gyumri is known for its 19th century architecture and urban constructions.[21]

The first printing house of Gyumri was founded in 1876 by G. Sanoyan and operated until 1918. It published literary works (including Avetik Isahakyan's first book), calendars, textbooks. Another printing house, Ayg (founded 1892), published historical books and the first periodical of Gyumri, Akhuryan.[22]

Gyumri is home to the Gyumri Biennial, organized by the artist Azat Sargsyan and the Gyumri Centre of Contemporary Art (GCCA).[23] Gyumri was officially declared Commonwealth of Independent States cultural capital in 2013.[24]

Famous natives

International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Gyumri is twinned with[25][26][27][28]

See also


  1. "Armstats : Population" (PDF). Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Gyumri Armenia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 14 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Kumayri infosite". Cimmerian. Retrieved 14 June 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "#1 Internet Site for Gyumri Armenia". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Hovannisian. Armenia on the Road to Independence, p. 198.
  6. Bolt, Bruce (August 2005), Earthquakes: 2006 Centennial Update – The 1906 Big One (Fifth ed.), W. H. Freeman and Company, pp. 65–67, ISBN 978-0716775485<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Climatebase: Gyumri, Armenia". Climatebase. 2014. Retrieved December 2014. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sev Berd or the Black Fortress of Gyumri,; accessed 20 November 2015.
  9. Georgia Brown (2 May 2007). Andy Burnham (ed.). "Rebuilding Armenia". The Guardian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "1837թ. Գյումրին վերանվանվում է Ալեքսանդրապոլ. (պատմություն)". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "GYUMRI BEER". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Aleksandrapol". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "armats". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "The Eparchy of Armenia & Oriental Europe of the Armenian Catholic Church". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Հաղթանակի պողոտայում սկսվել են Հայ կաթողիկե եկեղեցու շինաշախատանքները". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Religious organizations in Armenia" (PDF). Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "ՆՈՐՈՒԹՅՈՒՆՆԵՐ - 2013/08/21". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Weekly - . ". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Ленинаканский уезд 1926". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. 20.0 20.1 "население армении". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. 21.0 21.1 Tatul Hakobyan. "Gyumri has preserved the aura and architecture of the 19th century". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Concise Armenian Encyclopedia, Ed. by acad. K. Khudaverdyan, Yerevan, Vol. 2, p. 763
  23. Art and Asia Pacific Almanac - Volume 5 - Page 92
  24. "Gyumri officially declared CIS cultural capital in 2013". Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Քույր քաղաքներ [Sister cities]. Gyumri Municipality Official Website (in Հայերեն). Gyumri Municipality, Republic of Armenia. Retrieved 26 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Sister cities". Gyumri Municipality Official Website. Gyumri Municipality, Republic of Armenia. Retrieved 26 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Sister Cities". 2013 Gyumri CIS Cultural Capital. Retrieved 27 March 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Oraşe înfrăţite cu Piteştiul ["Twin cities of Pitești"]. Primăria Municipiului Piteşti (in română). Piteşti City Hall. Retrieved 27 March 2015. Invalid |script-title=: missing prefix (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Adrian Room, Placenames of the World: Origins and Meanings of the Names for Over 5000 Natural Features, Countries, Capitals, Territories, Cities and Historical Sites, McFarland, 1997, ISBN 978-0-7864-1814-5 (pbk) p. 192

External links