Old Gyumri Tour

Visit Kumayri museum, historic houses, workshops, taverns, guesthouses and museums that make up Old Gyumri (formerly known as Alexandropl).

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Belle Epoque of Alexandropol

Alexandropol's Belle Epoque

Nineteenth century Alexandropol (Giumri) was one of the largest centers for Armenian culture in the Transcaucasus, and it was famous for its craftsmen (“ustah”).  The city was divided between guilds (“asnaf”).   The name of the craft often became the family name; for example, “Tarzian” (Tailor), “Demirchian” (Blacksmith), etc.  Blacksmithing, iron craft, metal casting, copper smithy, jewelry, masonry, stone cutting, weaving – even culinary arts —were among the dozens of skills highly prized throughout the Caucasus and beyond.  Many skills have survived and Giumri artisans sought throughout Armenia, Russia and Europe.

Central Square (Freedom Square)

The current square was once a large market area (“shuka”), as shown in the 19th century photograph.  The old market was made of stone and served as both a market and central meeting point.  Giumretsis would gather to shop, meet friends and neighbors and exchange the latest news and gossip, while farmers and craftsmen would display their wares in the covered stalls. 

The market's place as a meeting point also served public gatherings, and it was demolished to create a square commemorating the so-called May uprising of 1920 which Soviet histories wrote began the Sovietization of Armenia.  It was renamed Freedom Square in the 1990s.

From the old area the only 19th century buildings surviving are Yot Verk Cathedral and Amnaprkich (All Savior) Cathedral opposite.  Others include the 1926 Hoktember Cinema, the “Black Box” and the 21st century Mayoralty.

The text for this walking tour was edited by the Kumaiyri Preserve-Museum.

 


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