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Giumri 12: Freedom Square: Surb Mair Astvatsatsin (Yot Verk), Surb Amenaprkich.

Freedom Square: Surb Mair Astvatsatsin (Yot Verk), Surb Amenaprkich

50. In front: Surb Mair Astvatsatsin Yot Verk (7 wounds) Church, 19th c. The city's place of worship, Yot Verk is the unofficial name of the church used by the citizens parishioners named for the seven wounds of Christ. Note the two tower domes outside the building. These fell during the 1988 earthquake, and far from being examples of the destruction wreaked on Giumri during the earthquake, they actually performed as they should have. In addition to the ringing of bells, the towers also served a specific purpose in the event of earthquakes, absorbing some of the shock. They also served as a counter-balance to the shaking in the church. The domes were meant to literally “pop off” their base, taking the shock waves with them, preventing severe damage.

The domes over the main building were engineered in much the same way; a dome might be lost, but the remaining structure would survive mostly intact, making reconstruction easier. The domes in front of you did their job and Yot Verk was saved. Opposite the square, Amenaprkich Cathedral shows a different story: in the 1970s the domes were “glued” to the base of the church in an attempt to reinforce the building, and rather than performing their intended job to cushion the earth shocks, they added to the shockwaves, collapsing the building.

51. Opposite on square: Amenaprkich Cathedral. Constructed between 1850s and 1870s, the cathedral is based on the 10th century cathedral of Ani, which was destroyed in the Middle Ages. The structure is one of the few large churches in Armenia, and standing next to it, one can imagine just how amazing the original was in Ani, towering as it did over that ancient city to the south. Chronicles write that the cathedral in Ani was the crowning point of 1001 other churches in a city of 100,000. Giumri has always compared itself to Ani, this cathedral one example of its obsession.

During the Soviet period the cathedral was converted into a concert hall. Most of the building was destroyed during the 1988 earthquake. Reconstruction is ongoing, carefully rebuilding the building to its former glory.

Turn L and continue up Rizhkov, the diagonal pedestrian walkway.

The text for this walking tour was edited by the Kumaiyri Preserve-Museum.