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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Rotunda

89. Rotunda. The rotunda is a classically designed and built construction with elegant columns topped by a semi-circular cornice.  It has decorated balusters and looks out over the Akhurian River Valley and the Turkish Border.

The site was popular in Soviet times as an outdoor ballroom, with young and old alike dancing the evening away to the sounds of a live band.  Many a Giumretsi fondly remembers those bygone days, nostalgically wishing they would return. At that time mostly the music was waltz, foxtrot, lindy or tango and people danced all night, many a budding romance cemented on the rotunda dance floor.  There are those who still remember those halcyon nights with tunes like “Sini Platochik” (Blue Scarf), “Serdtsae” (Heart), “Tyomnaya Noch” (Dark Night) and “Utomlyonnoe Solntse” (Weary Sun).

The rotunda is featured in a popular Armenian film, “Tango of Our Childhood”, featuring the Giumretsi comedian and actor “Frunze” (Mher Mkrchian).   See panel #21 for a set location and description of the film.

90. “Mother Armenia”. The statue was constructed in 1973-75. The author was Imminent Artist of Soviet Armenia Ara Sargsyan and the architect the Honored Architect of Soviet Armenia, Rafik Yeghoyan. Due to the author's illness and death, the project was finished by the Honored Sculptor of Armenia Yerem Vardanyan.

The statue is 18 meters tall, set upon a base itself 20 meters high.  Inside the platform is a memorial room where a register set on a table of white marble lists the names of 3,864 Leninakan (Giumri) citizens who did not return from World War II.

91. Sev Ghul and Red Tower. When Eastern Armenia was subsumed into the Russian Empire in 1829, defense of the empire's southern borders (between the Caspian and Black Seas) was of vital importance. In the 1830s Emperor Nicolai I ordered construction of 10 fortified complexes along the borders of the Russian Empire, one of which was at  Alexandrapol. Plans for the city and for a new fortress were made between 1833 to 1837. They showed the influences of 19th century town planning, with the fortress designed large enough to house 10,000 soldiers and officers.

Construction continued from 1837 to 1878, when Kars province was subsumed into the Russian Empire and the fortress became a military storage and artillery base.  The southern fort (“black tower”, in Turkish “sev ghul”) served as a military prison.

92. Giumri Region.  The region is said to be the oldest part of Armenia; archeological excavations in Kumaiyri (old Giumri) district revealed a settlement dating to 3000 BCE that was continuously inhabited to the late 19th century.  In the second half of the 19th century  a portion of the walls of a 7th century church was uncovered, and is described in the book ”Shirak” by  the 19th century historian and clergyman Ghevond Alishan.

Giumri's history can be traced to the Paleolithic era, with the discovery at the “Cossack's Post” of bones belonging to the now extinct mammoth (Elephas armeniacus), a predecessor of the horse (Equus caballus), primitive bison (Bizon priscus), deer (Servuselaphus) and cave bear (Ursus spelacus). 

In 1875, during construction at the Alexandrapol fortress, Colonel Proskurnyakov discovered the so-called “Grave of War”, a set of bronze items dated to the second millennium BCE, which are now preserved at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Soviet excavations showed that the city was made of four settlements, the largest of them on the slope of Cherkezi Dzor (Circassian Gorge).

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


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