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My First Visit to Gyumri


Growing up, my ideas about this place were shaped by my father who talked a lot about Gyumri, the second largest city of modern Armenia. My Dad’s stories were spiced with the spirit and soul of Leninakan (Gyumri’s former name).


From the moment I entered Gyumri, I knew that my anticipation of seeing a truly special place was correct. I immediately sensed I was in the native home of our favorite poets and writers Shiraz and Isahakyan, the famous actor Frunzik Mkrtchyan and many other outstanding people. Essentially, I knew that I was in the Fatherland of Armenian Art.


Undoubtedly, my visit to Gyumri was for a very important reason: to visit FAR’s Gyumri office and Gyumri Information Technology Center (GTech) so that I, as FAR’s communication officer for new and social media, could actually see with my own eyes the numerous programs of FAR and meet those who are working on these programs. It is symbolic that the FAR Gyumri office is located at 1 Victory Avenue. The fact that this office has been in operation for 15 years has been a true victory over poverty and misfortune since the horrible 1988 earthquake.


The fact that GTech has been operating in Gyumri for more than five years is a serious effort to make Gyumri a city that leads in Information Technology. Being here I realized that Gyumri is in tune with the modern world developments. GTech’s interim director Amalya Yeghoyan presented the center’s operations with her typical enthusiasm and vigor.


FAR Shirak Department Director Marina Bazayeva and GTech Coordinator Gagik Lachikyan introduced to me their favorite city, presenting each building, street and monument with special devotion and vigor. Gyumretsis love their city. And the Gyumri, with its unique architectural face and Armenian tone, forms in each Gyumretsi a love for art. It is as if here Armenia breathes with some other, indescribable way. The sculptures and architectural features of old Gyumri’s buildings are distinguished. Pink sculptures on black tuff create a unique style. Winding and narrow streets remind us of the Armenian cities depicted in old movies, the ones that remind us of well-known European cities.


There is significant devotion and dedication in a Gyumretsi’s love of his city. That unconditional love is the one that has preserved the Gyumretsi soul and spirit. Gyumri’s modern architecture proves that deep love. Gyumri’s City Hall, constructed in almost the same way as the one built before the earthquake, resembles an opera house that any in a European or North American city would dream of.


My day trip was unforgettable and I am still under the spell of the stories about that city, its people and local customs and traditions are told with such sweet local dialect and tender hearts.

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