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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Varpetats Street

Varpetats (Masters) Street: Museums, Bari Luis bldg

45. Right corner: Mher Mkrtchian Museum / Italian Consulate / Khasharan, 1880s.  Originally a khasharan ("hash joint") called “Usta Karo”, the building now houses both a museum dedicated to the life and work of one of Armenia's most beloved actors, “Frunzik” (Mher Mkrtchian), and the future home of the Honorary Italian Consulate in Giumri.  Known for his large nose and comic roles, Mkrtchian nonetheless led a tragic personal life.  An actor in both film and theater, Mkrtchian performed Shakespeare, Western and Armenian plays, but was best known for his roles in the Russian cinema: “Mimino”, “Aibolit 66”, “Kavkaskaya plenitsa” (Caucasus Captive) and perhaps most famously, “Mer Mankutian Tango” (The Tango of Our Childhood) with the actress Galia Novents.

Turn R on Varpetats Street and continue:

Around the corner you can see the full layout of the future home for the Honorary Consulate for Italy and underground khasharan. Once renovated, the building will become a multi-purpose building serving the consul and the community. The Honorary Consul, Antonio Montalto, is an important force for the rejuvenation of Giumri, and a sponsor of the Armenian Monuments Awareness Project. 

46. Left:  Avetik Isahakian Home Museum, 1850s. The home-museum commemorates one of Armenia's most famous poets, known for his lyrical style and political force.  Isahakian (1875-1957) spent his formative years in the house, before embarking on an education and writing career in Tbilisi and travels abroad.  Returning to Soviet Armenia in 1926, Isahakian became a driving force in the revival of Armenian culture in the Soviet Union, recruiting writers and artists from abroad and playing an active role in creating the Armenian Academy of Sciences.  Among his more famous works are "Yerker u Verker" (Songs and Wounds), "Abu Lala Mahari," "Im Hokin" (My Soul), "Maiyrikis" (To My Mother), "Kishehr" (Night), “Usta Karo”,  "Hayrenigits Heru" (Away From My Fatherland), "Tarinehr Heto" (Years Later).

47. Right: Dwellings, 1880-1900, include an unfinished building from the period, basement only, still inhabited.  It was not destroyed by an earthquake, no one knows the reason it was never finished. Look for the one story dwelling, 1900-1920, with red paint from Imperial times, and classic Giumri door and 3 windows. Next door is a small dwelling with arch windows and white grill, same period.

48. Right corner, facing Gorki Street: “Bari Luis” House, 1880-1900. Yegor Drambian had this house built, a beautifully proportioned black tufa building which had multiple functions, serving as home and at the same time as a shop for the family business. The building was built in stages, and the name comes from the distinct emblems on the front façade: the oval carving looks like a towel and mirror set used to shave with in the morning, Giumretsis' quick wit soon dubbed it the Good Morning House. The courtyard is classic Old Giumri, with wooden balustrades ringing the lower yard. The building was divided into apartments during Soviet times, and once housed Giumri Restaurant, which is now closed.  It still houses residents.

Continue S on Varpetats (Generalskaya – 27th) Street:

49. Left:  Shiraz Home Museum, dedicated to Hovhannes Shiraz, a 20th century writer of classic Armenian Poetry.  Born Hovhannes Onnik Garabedian three days after the beginning of the Armenian Genocide, Shiraz grew up on the streets, barefoot and starving. Until his death on March 14, 1984, Shiraz published many books, mostly poetry, but also quartets, parables and translations.  He enjoyed wide recognition both in Armenia and abroad, and is considered one of the greatest Armenian poets of the 20th century.  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."

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

 


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