Alexandrapol Era Architecture
Alexandrapol used to be an important fortified city at the crossroads of Caucasian, Russian and European civilizations. This is reflected primarily in the city’s culture and architecture. A variety of house plans were available in Gyumri, including single wing, double wing, and corner or “L” shaped plans. Several had blueprints with a central wall and rooms that led from one to the next with backrooms looking onto a garden. Homes were substantial, made of stone, and were built around central courtyards that included stables and areas for communal activities, gardening, and rest. Courtyards featured wooden balconies with elaborate balustrades and porch cornices. The houses themselves often used patterns and symbols from Armenian Khachkars (stone crosses) or pre-Christian carvings in the cornices, above windows, or at the top of walls.
One famous pattern was a diamond effect on walls that were made from red and black tufa, Armenia’s most abundant stone.
Buildings built between 1860-1880 favored the black and red tufa patterns that became known as the “Alexandrapol style”. During that period, a type of white concave masonry called “Ghaiytan darz sharvatsk” was used.
From 1880, black tufa became the predominant color, with arches above windows and doors and white joints, until around 1890 when the white joints were joined by a type of masonry called “S’rbatash sharvatsk”.
In the late Russian period, some buildings were painted over in bright hues of blue, pink, and yellow. Their original colors were restored in the 20th century, though some buildings are still covered with this Russian Imperial style of paint.
According to one story, when architects arrived in Alexandrapol from St. Petersburgh, they walked around the city and said that local architects and craftsmen made one big mistake with their work. They did not build their city on wheels so that they could roll it all over the world and show everyone how wonderful a city it is.