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Gyumri is the second largest city in Armenia with population of around 150 000. It is also considered as the cultural center of Armenia and is known for its hospitality, people with great sense of humor, Olympic champions, famous actors and beloved poets. Though the traces of catastrophic earthquake of 1988 are still visible in the city, and it is still being rebuilt, you will meet history and rich culture, accompanied by old good joyful stories in every corner of this beautiful city of Armenia. So here are the best things to do and the top sights in Gyumri that every visitor should explore.
You can start your journey in Gyumri from Vardanants square. This square is the heart of the city and is named after famous historical figure general and commander-in-chief Vardan Mamikonyan and those who lead the people during Avarayr Battle in the 5th century. In the center of the square you can find the Memorial devoted to them. The square is surrounded by Gyumri city Hall, Seven Wounds and Holy Saver’s churches, Cinema, many cafés and restaurants.
Constructed in 1872 by a wealthy trader, todays Dzitoghtsyan Museum once was a house for more than 20 families. In 1984 Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life opened in this building, today it exhibits furniture, carpets, handicraft and other items typical to wealthy people of the 19th century. This house is unique not only by its exhibited collection but also by the fact that it was never re/constructed, as the both earthquakes in this region never caused even minor damages to the building.
This two churches located near the Vardanants square are facing each other in a distance. Both are built in the mid-19th century and are the symbols of the city. Seven Wounds belongs to the cruciform type of Armenian churches and is built by black tufa. While as Holy Savers Cathedral the highest in Armenia, is made of black and orange tufa similar to Cathedral of Ani (west Armenia, Turky). Both were badly damaged during the 1988 earthquake and you will see the fallen domes of the churches in their yards.
Other Gyumri attractions are these two historic monuments, that are located close to each other. Black Castle was built in 19th century after Russo-Turkish war to serve Russian troops as shield, later it played an important role for the victory over Turkey. The sculpture of Mother Armenia is located on top of the hill, it has a huge stairway and fountain complex at her feet. In the bottom it continues through the Victory park and alley with large blocks with the names of all Soviet capitals.
Similar to Yerevan N2 Market, Gyumri market is plentiful with local goods. Here you can find everything depending on the season; fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, seeds, spices, tea made of wild flowers and so on. Gyumri is well known for its textile fabric shops, offering a wide range of locally made clothing. Here you will also find a range of handmade and eco-friendly eyewear made in Armenia. Gyumri shopping is always fun and joyful, as people here are open hearted and ingenious.
“Gyumri Beer” was founded in 1970 but the brewery factory was constructed in 1898. Having one of the best tastes in Armenia, Gyumri Beer factory also has a unique history to discover. The building of the factory is a part of Gyumri Cultural Heritage. Here you can try different types of beer in different stages of production.
If you are a foodie, then Gyumri is one of the best places in the world for you. Here are located many beautiful and esthetic cafes and restaurants that will fulfil your expectations and beyond. So here are some of them to guide you; right next to Gyumri Brewery is located Poloz Mukuch restaurant, where you can find traditional Armenian cuisine made by local chef. While in this restaurant don’t forget to “order” some anecdotes of famous Gyumretsi Poloz Mukuch.
Chaikhana restaurant and bar offers its visitors to taste classic alcoholic drinks. To taste the most appetizing fish in the region you should visit Cherkezi Dzor (also a Fish Farm, where you can watch 5 types of fish in beautiful little lakes). For donut lovers Ponchik-Monchik is the best place to visit, here people come with their children as this restaurant is kid-friendly.
At Noon Lunch you will find healthy and indescribable tasty food. Herbs and Honey is a tea shop and restaurant serving healthy food from local farmers. Kilikia Fast Food Restaurant has the tastes lahmaju in Gyumri. To taste different types of wines, you should visit DarVino Wine House. To taste one of the symbols of the city and also traditional desert Yaghli visit Yaghli House. Vanatur restaurant is the best place to taste Georgian food especially khinkali.
Gyumri is located 150km north from Yerevan. There is a small airport located in Gyumri however number international flights are very limited. So to reach this wonderful city you can rent a car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car Armenia and have a pleasant drive from Yerevan which will take about 2.5 hours. You can also pick-up or drop off the car at Gyumri if you have a flight via Gyumri airport. You need to book the delivery service in advance at www.enterprise.am.
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