Sightseeing in Armenia’s second city

1047 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

Sightseeing in Gyumri

Product country


Product city


Travelled with


Reasons for trip


Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city, was devastated by an earthquake in 1988 which crushed parts of the city, killed 50,000 people and made many homeless. Whilst Lonely Planet suggests it is now on the ‘upswing’, judging by the lack of tourists, there is still a long way to go.

There are two major attractions.

The first was Dzitoghtsyan Museum or Museum of National Architecture and Urban Life. Here a brilliant guide with excellent English guided us through several rooms with exhibits coving the cultural, architectural and religious aspects of the city. Some of my favourites included: musical instruments including the duduk featured on the soundtrack of the film Gladiator, intricate party invitations, and puppets hung from the ceiling with seven feathers for the seven weeks of Lent. Gyumri was famous for arts and crafts, with rooms dedicated to traditional trades using tin, silver and gold, with jewellers, joiners and dressmakers also featured.

For some inexplicable reason, a terracotta warrior greeted us at the entrance to the Gallery of the Aslamazyan sisters, Mariam and Eranuhi, born near Gyumri in 1907 and 1910. Mariam painted in darker, brighter colours and was often referred to as the ‘Armenian Frida Kahlo’, whilst Eranuhi preferred paler tones. Both travelled extensively, unusual for Russian females at the time, and there were portraits of people from Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka etc. as well as of the nearby Mount Ararat during various seasons.

In the historic area, the pedestrianised Abovyan Street began with a 12-foot bottle of red Armenian wine, and a statue of a national hero, Kirk Kerkorian, an Armenian-American investor and philanthropist. Many of the restored buildings had delicate iron grills covering windows and doors and intricate gutter tops.

Amenaprkich or All Saints Church, built in black and apricot tuff (a type of rock made of volcanic ash), towered over Vardanants Square. It had been heavily destroyed in the earthquake and photographs showed ‘before’ and ‘after’ whilst a statue commemorated the earthquake and fallen roof. Inside we could see that the restoration had just finished, although the church has yet to be reconsecrated.

Below the church was a small park with fountains and a colossal statue of the Armenian hero, Vartan Mamigonian. He sat astride his horse, holding a cross and sword, leading the Armenians against the Persian Empire. Our guide told us that the position of the horse’s legs indicated whether the person died in battle, of wounds incurred afterwards or of natural causes.

Gyumri is often regarded as the ‘capital or city of humour’ and in 2021, the youths of Gyumri decided that as there was the Wailing Wall in Israel, and the Happy Wall in Denmark, there should be an Anecdotes Wall in Armenia. A wall on Central Square had several boards full of jokes and sayings in both Armenian and English – for example, a pilot from Gyumri writes his will: ‘When I die, do not open my black box’.

Horses and carriages around the square waited in vain for tourists and the only other thing of note was that my husband spent 1000 Dram or £2 on a haircut in the Lux Barber Shop. It opened in 1941 as a place for local men to relax, read the newspaper, and talk with friends, while having a shave all in the company of caged budgerigars. Despite the passing of time, and the earthquake, it still stands and is Gyumri’s, if not Armenia’s oldest barbershop.

Helen Jackson

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.