Area: 2,680 km2
Population: 251,941 (2011)
Shirak region is situated in the north-west of Armenia and borders on Georgia and Turkey. The administrative centre is Gyumri.
Trchkan waterfall is one of the most beautiful places in Armenia. It is located between Shirak and Lori provinces. Once you see this waterfall you will fall in love with it forever. Trchkan is the highest waterfall in the country (23 metres) which was included in the list of the natural monuments of Armenia in 2008.
The villagers who live near the waterfall gave it the name "Chran" (Ճռան, Squeaky, Noisy) because of the sounds the falling water makes. The waterfall is also called Chichkan waterfall as it is on the Chychkan river. The river was once famous for its trout fish, which actually gave the name of the Trchkan river. The thing is that the river used to be full of fish, which during the breeding season swam upstream and jumped over the waterfall. Therefore, people named the waterfall "Trchkan", as it means “jumping” in Armenian.
Marmashen monastery is another attraction in the Shirak region. It is located 10 km away from the city of Gyumri, in the picturesque surroundings of Marmashen village. The temple was built in the X-XIII centuries and consists of five churches built of the Armenian red ‘tuff’ stone.
The Yererouk basilica is one of the earliest surviving Christian monuments in Armenia. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 1995.
The Basilica is located on a plateau near the Akhurian River, about 5 km southeast of the ancient city of Ani. Yererouk is a three-nave Basilica, which was built in 4th-5th centuries on the site of a pagan altar. It is built of red tuff stone from the ancient capital of Armenia - Ani.
The word ‘yererouk’ means quivering in the Armenian language. They say that the name is related to the fact that the church was built on six columns and from a distance, it seemed that the structure was quivering.
Shirak International airport was built in 1961. It has regular flights to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Since 2014, Gyumri airport has been exempt from air tax to make it more attractive for low-cost airlines.
The railway junction of Gyumri is the oldest and the largest one in Armenia. It was formed in 1897 and connected Alexandropol with the city of Tiflis. The rail line was then extended and Alexandropol became an important rail hub.
Currently, the Gyumri Railway Station operates regular trips to Yerevan, Tbilisi and Batumi. The Gyumri-Yerevan train runs every day. This is a very convenient mode of transport, especially in winter when the roads can be impassable due to weather conditions.
According to the census of 2011, 251 941 people live in Shirak, 99.13% of them are Armenians. Locals are known for their sharp sense of humour and hospitality.
The climate in the Shirak region is characterized by cold and snowy winters (the minimum temperature reaching up to -40 °C), while summers are relatively hot (36 °C) with frequent rains.
History of Gyumri
Gyumri is located in the northwestern part of the region and is the second-largest city of Armenia. The city has changed its name several times: in the 19th century it was known as Alexandrapol, then was renamed Leninakan during the Soviet period, and in 1992 when Armenia, at last, became an independent country, the city was renamed Gyumri.
Unfortunately, on December 7, 1988, the city suffered a terrible earthquake. 15.000-17.000 people died and 25.000 were injured. The earthquake destroyed not only houses and apartment buildings but also the most important industrial factories of Leninakan. Many years have passed since the devastating earthquake but one can still feel the pain of the city.
Of course, those who could survive the horrible earthquake stood up again and started rebuilding the city. Now Gyumri is becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Armenia.
Gyumri has long been considered the cultural capital of Armenia. The city is unique as it somehow managed to preserve the atmosphere of the 19th century. The Kumayri historic district of Gyumri is one of the few places in the Republic of Armenia with an authentic historical urban Armenian architecture. Luckily this district has survived two major earthquakes. It has over one thousand 18th and 19th-century buildings, which represent the traditions and culture of Armenian architecture.
The city is rich with historical and cultural monuments. It is home to many churches including the Cathedral of the Holy Martyrs which is the seat of the Ordinariate for Armenia, Georgia, Russia, and Eastern Europe for the Armenian Catholic Church.
Other churches of the city are the Church of the Holy Saviour or Surp Amenaprkich (1859–1873), Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God: also known as Seven Wounds of the Holy Mother of God (1873–1884), Surp Nshan Church of 1870 and many other churches and chapels.
The Architectural Museum of Gyumri is one of the most interesting and visited museums in the country. The building of the museum used to be the house of a famous merchant Petros Dzitoghtsyan and was founded in 1872. It is built of red Tufa stone.
The city is home to the house-museums of the great Armenian poets Avetik Isahakyan and Hovhannes Shiraz and the great actor Mher Mkrtchyan. They are all located on the same street in Gyumri.
The Aslamazyan Sisters House-Museum, built in the 1880s, is home to more than 700 drawings, paintings and other works of the Aslamazyan sisters who were the Soviet-era artists.
The House-Museum of the prominent Armenian sculptor Sergey Merkurov is located in Gyumri.
In 1912, Gyumri was home to the first opera show ever staged in Armenia, when composer Armen Tigranian presented Anoush to the public in Alexandropol. In 1923, the first Armenian opera theatre was opened in Gyumri, while the Vardan Ajemian State Drama Theatre was founded in 1928.
However, Gumri is first of all known for its talented people, who highly contributed to the cultural and sport life of the country. Many Olympic and world champion wrestlers, weightlifters and boxers are from Gyumri. No wonder that throughout centuries Gyumri was considered the "city of crafts and arts".
The Architectural Museum of Gyumri is the most attractive and the most visited museum in Gyumri. This museum is the old house which has represents Gyumri’s history, local culture, and everyday life.Read More