10 must-do things in Gyumri

10 must-do things in Gyumri

First of all, Gyumri is famous all over the country for its people – highly talented, incredibly witty, friendly and hospitable. There are so many things to do and see in Gyumri, that it’s quite hard to sum it all up in one article. Here is our list of 10 things one should do in the city first of all.

Text: Armen Mouradian / Photos: Pan Photo, Arnos Martirosyan, Hripsime Garunts, Arshak Manukyan, visitgyumri.com 


Soviet Video Game Arcade Zone

There is another place in Gyumri, where time seems to be frozen. While kids and grownups around the world play in highly modernized gaming clubs with huge monitors, using online-platforms and futuristic gadgets, here you can still find vivid examples of the Soviet Union gaming industry – including world-famous Tetris. There’s no place for good old Mario here, but instead you can play some games that kids were playing back in the early 80’s – shooting games, basketball, racing games – it’s up to you. Oh, and the pixels are so huge, that sometimes it’s quite hard to distinguish what are you driving – Formula 1 car or a few boxes attached to each other. Again, the atmosphere and interior have almost been left untouched since 1981 – the year when the place first opened.


Tasting ‘Qyala’ Dish

Qyala is Gyumri’s traditional meal made from lamb or beef head. The dish is so popular in Gyumri, that any visitor can taste it at almost any restaurant. The dish is served with onion, lemon, salt and greens. Traditionally the dish is eaten with hands – without a knife and fork. Yes, it may sound a little weird, but well prepared Qyala with the right garnish and a shot of vodka (why not) will alter your perception of the taste. In Gyumri there are a lot of places where you can taste Qyala, especially if you are invited to a family dinner or some kind of celebration. But the most famous Qyala-place is at ‘Araik’ place, where Araik’s son is now in charge of preparing the tastiest Qyala – using a secret family recipe. The locals call it ‘Araik’s Oven’.


75 Years Old Barbershop

Men’s barbershop, on one of the oldest streets in Gyumri has retained its original appearance since the time it was founded. Here, you never know when retro barbershop ends and museum begins – every single interior detail hasn’t been changed for ages – including some of the hairdressing supplies. Eighty-five year old Khanayev Aristakesyan is one of the oldest barbers in Armenia, and he still works at the oldest active barbershop in the country. Among his clients were many famous Gyumretsis, including legendary movie actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan. Here you can feel the past of the city and get an awesome haircut by old-school professionals.


Black Fortress

Sev Berd or Black Fortress was built between 1834-1847, (8 km away from the Turkish border) soon after the Russo-Turkish War. It is considered a national cultural heritage monument of Armenia and is situated on the hill, just 10 minutes from Gyurmi’s downtown. The 360-degree round-Fortress is made from black stone, which provides the structure with a unique appearance. The interesting part is that the fortress has never experienced a siege, but strategically it was of huge importance for the main victories of the Russians against the Turks.


Cherkez ‘Fish’ Gorge

Cherkez gorge is one of the most picturesque places around Gyumri. The gorge was famous among locals and visitors since the 19th century for its unique nature, surrounded by shady trees and green hills. But the place is a must-visit not only for the nature, but also for the best fish you can taste around Gyumri. The locals used to call it Fish gorge instead of the official name. All credits go to ‘Cherkez Dzor’ restaurant with its own fish farm. It’s quite a difficult challenge to find someone, who wasn’t delighted with trout and sturgeon – barbequed, braised and boiled. Here you can choose a particular fish, which will be caught and cooked especially for you. It’s one of the famous places for celebrations and rest for Gyumretsis. If you love fish, then don’t miss this chance!


The Aslamazyan Sisters’ Art Gallery

There’s a black tuff building on Abovyan street with a door leading into a garden with porches on two sides, featuring lovely wooden lattice work constructed between 1880-1900. Here you can find The Aslamazyan sisters’ art gallery. Yeranuhi and Mariam Aslamazyans were painters and sisters, who had a big influence on the Armenian fine arts of the second half of XX century. The museum also highlights pottery by Yeranuhi Aslamazyan. Some works of Mariam Arshakovna are stored in the State Tretyakov Gallery, including ‘Armenian Still Life’ (1955) and ‘Red Cactus Flower’ (1957). The collection consists of around 620 works, including paintings, graphics, and ceramics. You can find Yeranuhi’s works on the first floor and Mariam’s works on the second floor. The sisters created together, but if you look closely, you’ll see a completely different personality.


Sergey Merkurov’s House Museum

Sergey Merkurov was a prominent Armenian sculptor and the creator of many monumental sculptures and more than 300 ‘death masks’. His first death mask was made for the Catholicos of all Armenians Mkrtich Khrimyan, who died in 1907. Merkurov was regarded as one of the most influential sculptors in the whole of the USSR. The museum opened in 1984, but after earthquake of 1988 it was inhabited by people who were left homeless. In 2003, the museum was renovated and reopened. Today one can not only find a large collection of masks, but also Merkurov’s letters, publications in press, photos, etc. The death mask museum – is there any other chance to visit this kind of place in another city?


‘Style’ Gallery

‘Style’ gallery was established in 1991 based on the ‘Style company’s’ personal collection of Armenian fine arts. Since then, the gallery has curated personal exhibitions in 28 countries throughout the world. In 2000, however, the gallery changed its basic collection. Today’s collection consists of 3 sections – Armenian graphics, Soviet collections of the 1950’s and a collection of 1950’s Soviet glass. Here you can also find the largest collection of 18 and 19th century European engraving arts. Style Gallery also periodically exhibits the works of different painters and sculptors.


Alexandrapol Beer Factory

Written evidence of ancient beer production in Armenia can be found in Xenophon’s work Anabasis (5th century BC). But if we speak about modern times, the Alexandropol Brewery in Gyumri is considered the oldest beer factory in Armenia.It was built in 1898 by Hamazasp Tsaghikyants but in 1988 it was devastated by the earthquake. Only in 2008 it was fully reconstructed. Today Alexandrapol Factory (which produces famous ‘Gyumri’ and ‘Alexandrapol’ beers), opens its doors to visitors – offering guided tours of the factory cellar and beer tasting. Also, you can take a workshop and master-class on beer brewing and one shouldn’t miss that chance.


Frunzik Mkrtchyan House Museum

One of the famous Armenian movie-stars of the Soviet period, also known as one of the main actors in the legendary Soviet movie ‘Mimino’, Gyumri born Frunzik (Mher) Mkrtchyan’s house museum was opened in 2004. The museum covers the life and activities of the great actor, by leaving the great art values to the future generation. The purpose of the museum is to provide its visitors with a closer look at the life and works of the great Armenian actor. The collection and research on gathering materials associated with Mher Mkrtchyan is consistently enriching the museums fund.