Ah, Gyumri. Armenians love this city and its witty inhabitants. It's the country's 2nd largest city, home to well-known Armenian artists, writers, and artisans. Devastated during the earthquake of 1988, the city managed to recover from ashes and shake the dust off. You'll still hear the locals refer to themselves as "Lennakantsi" alluding to the Soviet name of the city - Leninakan.
Some interesting facts about Gyumri: the area of the modern-day Gyumri name was known as Kumayri in the ancient Urartu kingdom 8th century BC. In 1837 the city was renamed to Alexandropol, after the Russian emperor Nicholas I's wife Alexandra. It was one of the largest cities of Russian-ruled Eastern Armenia with population comparable to that of Yerevan. During the Soviet era the city was renamed to Leninakan and was renamed again to Gyumri after the fall of USSR. The Old Town, called Kumayri, is a national reserve-museum founded in 1980.
Located 5 km (3 mi) from city center, Shirak International airport (LWN) serves low-cost flights to and from Russia. The main direction is Moscow (Pobeda Airlines)։ Pobeda Airlines offers two-way transfer service Gyumri - Yerevan - Gyumri called Fly&Bus. The bus stop is near the airport terminal. The bus stop in Yerevan is near Hrazdan stadium.
Black Fortress (Sev Berd)
Once Russian military base, Black Fortress currently belongs to the municipality of Gyumri. It has a unique architecture built of black stone which lends its name to this edifice. Built in 19th century, the fortress has a circular shape and was meant to protect the city from Turkish invasions. The second floor was built in the recent years by preserving the architectural style of the original building. Sev Berd was opened to the public last year. The interior hall with fine acoustic qualities hosts various events and concerts once in a while. There's a museum and deep well on the basement floor. The well has functioned as a water supply source in case of a siege.
At the beginning of 20th century Gyumri roughly had the same population as Yerevan did. When the Soviet rule started to roll out in Armenia starting from 1920, Yerevan got more attention in as a capital city. As a result the city changed its face dramatically whereas Gyumri kept its own architectual touch and traditions from the late 19th century which can be observed to this day. Here are some modern-day shots of the bustling city:
Gyumri is also famous for being the birthplace of several notable figures, including the beloved Soviet-Armenian actor Mher 'Frunzik' Mkrtchyan, lyrical poet and writer Avetik Isahakyan who is depicted on AMD 10 000 banknote; internationally reknowned jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan who regularly makes appearances in jazz festivals and concerts worldwide; and the Olympic champion in wresting Arthur Aleksanyan.
In contrast with wine and brandy production of other regions, Gyumri is more popular with its beer breweries with one of those being the city's namesake. The Gyumri beer factory is open for tours.