Gyumri CIS cultural capital

When a city is called a capital, it is assumed that it enjoys primary status it seats the government and it is the center where people are attracted to come to and to live in. But when a city is called a CULTURAL capital it is something different…

Gyumri, the second largest city of Armenia, has been announced as the 2013 cultural capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The recognition of Gyumri as the 2013 CIS cultural capital has been accepted by the council session of the CIS country leaders in Ashkhabat, Turkmenistan on December 5, 2012. Officially the city will receive its certification on June 30, 2013.

One may ask: Why Gyumri? If you ask Armenians, it is all clear to them, as Gyumri is really the cultural capital of the country. But let’s tell a bit our foreign readers why Gyumri was chosen to be the cultural capital among other cities of Armenia.

“Considering the cultural heritage of the city, everybody accepts and agrees that Gyumri is the one to be called a cultural capital”, notes Hasmik Kirakosyan, Shirak region governor’s adviser, and adds “Gyumri is and has always been a birthplace for art and traditions”. Many outstanding Armenian artists were born in Gyumri, among them painters, poets, architects, actors, sculptors, etc. People from Gyumri are proud of them and never miss the chance to remind the world names such as Mher Mkrtchyan, Hovhannes Shiraz, Minas Avetisyan, Armen Tigranyan and others. Also, the first painters’ and musical studios were founded in Gyumri. Besides, the first national opera, “Anoush” was performed there.

The first event in the under the Gyumri CIS cultural capital project was Renaissance International Contest Festival, which gathered together hundreds of artists from all over the world. The musical event was carried out under the patronage of the first lady, Rita Sargsyan, in Gyumri at the branch of Yerevan State Conservatory. The following event was the gathering and the visit of world poets to Gyumri, which was possible with the help of the Union of Armenian Writers.

From July 1 to July 8, the Gyumri Dramatic Theatre named after Vardan Achemyan will hold the
“Duet” international theatrical festival. 18 theatre from Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and France will participate in the festival. The opening ceremony of “Duet” will take place on July 1 with “Life in Pink Light”  performance of Moscow dramatic theatre headed by Armen Dzigarkhanyan. Many other cultural and artistic events are included in the agenda going forward. A painters’ symposium, sculptors’ symposium, bread fest, etc, which will continue till the end of November.

Over time, Gyumri has hosted and continues to host thousands of foreign guests, who come to the city to share experience, to get acquainted and to participate in different cultural events flavored with Gyumri colors and vibe. Some foreign delegations have already visited the city, among them the Chinese and the Polish, and many others are expected to visit on June 30, 2013.
But is naive to think that Gyumri can become a cultural capital only due to its past heritage. On this note Hasmik Kirakosyan states: “Even after the earthquake we have serious achievements in art. The examples are those international festivals hosted by us. Gyumri retains its color in art and never loses it. Art is in our genes”, sums up Mrs. Kirakosyan.

Gyumri is a city of museums, and the system here works better than in other regions. We have unique museums which amaze guests each time they visit. Here is the list of Gyumri museums and galleries:

Gyumri is also unique by its geographical location. It is surrounded by old churches, natural picturesque sights and historical monuments. Gyumri opens up its doors to visitors and guests. Gyumri people are happy to host foreigners and demonstrate their hospitality.


It has been chosen the 2013 CIS cultural capital, but it has been the humor capital of all times… People here don’t often smile, but always joke…

Watch the video about how Gyumri celebrates becoming a CIS cultural capital:

This post is also available in: Armenian