Old Gyumri Tour

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


Folk House

85.       Left: Folk House  (formerly Mravian Dramatic Theater, Culture Club, “Shirak” TV company). This Aleksandrapol theater is one of the oldest theaters of Eastern Armenia, conceived by the Tsarist officer A. Melik-Haykazyants.  The first performance took place in 1865.  In the beginning performances were made at the house of Khachatur Hovhannisyan.   It was later that the current structure was added to the park and an amateur troupe began performing.  

The theater played an important part in the cultural life of the city, with performances by both the amateur troupe and Aleksandrapol’s professional players touring the Transcaucasia. In 1868 the first performance of Goethe's “Faust” was performed and in 1873 a number of women joined the theater, among them the local actresses Yeranuhi Tigranian and Zaruhi Gulumian. About the same time a Russian troupe was formed, which gave the first performance of Nikolai Gogol's “The Inspector General”.

On August 4, 1912 the theater hosted the premier of the first Armenian opera “Anush”, by the composer Armen Tigranian. On July 8, 1922 an open air performance of “Sasuntsi David” (producer Armen Armenian) featured 150 actors, who played for more than 10,000 spectators. Many of these performers were orphans from the Near East Relief orphanage of Alexandrapol (the orphanage was the largest in Transcaucasia, finding homes for more than 35,000 orphans).  It is said that the play was filmed but after the closure of the orphanage the footage was taken to the United States, where it disappeared.

In 1924 the city formed the first Armenian opera/operetta theater which developed into the Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet.  Its repertory included such famous operas and operettas as “Anush”, “Silva” and the operas of Guno, Rubinstein and Bizet.  On May 25, 1933 the doors opened for the Youth Theater, followed in 1935 by the first Soviet Armenian Puppet Theater (dir. Hasmik Giozalian), at present, Stepan Alikhanyan state puppet theater.  On September 29, 1972 a new V. Ajemyan drama theater building was opened on Sayat-Nova Street. It continues to host performances.

Proceed into the park and notice the two busts on you right:

86. The bust of Hovhannes Shiraz, a famous Armenian poet (2004, sculptor: Kamo Sarikyan), a 20th century writer of classic Armenian Poetry. His poems relate to Ararat, Motherhood and the Armenian Homeland: 

"As long as you never have a hut in the fatherland,

You are just a forgotten orphan under a foreign moon."

87. Facing the Hovhannes Shiraz bust is one of Armenian poet Avetik Isahakian, Among his more famous works are "Yerger u Verker" (Songs and Wounds), "Abu Lala Mahari," "Eternal love", “Usta Karo”, epic novel and others.

Turn around and proceed uphill towards the rotunda:

88. Right: Wooden statue “There is a Man and a Man”, carved from a dead tree.  The poem is by immensely revered poet Paruyr Sevak, who died in a car crash in 1971 under mysterious circumstances.  The poem begins:

There is a man, who the world carries on its back,

And a man, who carries the world on his back…

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

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The Honorary Consul for Italy in Gyumri


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