"Gurdjieff father grave" Gyumri by jorgejuansanchez

Gyumri Travel Guide: 15 reviews and 109 photos

In the year 1987, during Soviet Union times, I was in Erevan ready to travel to Gyumri, even without the appropriate travel permit from the OVIR (Office of Visas and Registration), but in the last moment something happened, out of my control, that spoilt my plan.
The second time, in December 1988, I was exploring the ruins of the millenary Ani Harabeleri, the old capital of the Kingdom or Armenia, just at the border between Turkey and Armenia, but to cross the River Arpa Chai (Akhurian River in Armenian language) was impossible. Besides, Gyumri had just suffered the consequences of a sinister earthquake two weeks earlier that almost destroyed the whole town and killed many thousands of people.
Finally in the year 2007 I was able to visit Gyumri.
The town looked still half destroyed; many buildings had not yet been reconstructed. The cemetery was full with tombs of the victims of the catastrophe.
I visited the Black Church, the Russian round fortress (it looked like a bullfighting arena!) plus several other historical places that were saved from the earthquake.
Arriving the night and having only a few euros left, I found a garden where I wanted to spent the night into my sleeping bag. It was inside the beautiful and most interesting museum devoted to Sergei Merkurov, which I had visited in the morning.
Sergei Merkurov, born in Gyumri, was, apart from an extraordinary man and free thinker, an artist and sculptor of Armenian-Greek descent which specialities were the postmortem maskes. He had prepared those masks and also monuments for important personages in Russia and later in Soviet Union, such as Lev Tolstoy, Maxim Gorky, Mikhail Bulgakov, Lenin, Marx, Stalin, etc.
Soon after I lay down on the grass two men who were working as porters of the museum woke me up. I explained them that I had been despossesed of practically all my money in Batumi, when in a Immigration control they deducted by the stamps in my passport that I had been in Abkhazia entering from Russia, what was considered a crime, and put in jail in Batumi during three days and three nights. The fourth day I was sent to the Judge where, after a fake trial, in the middle of which I was forced to pay a very high penalty, I was released.
Then the men took me to the Berlin Guesthouse, just next door, and after conversing with the director I was given a free night stay with dinner and breakfast.
The Guesthouse Berlin is seen as a humanitarian institurion in Gyumri. Their staffs helped people during the sinister earthquake of 1988, and during those times the hotel was transformed into a kind of dormitory, free of charge, during long time, for those who had lost their houses.
In the morning, after thanking the director of the hotel and the porters of the Museum Sergei Merkurov, and as a sign of gratitude, I went to the old cemetery because I had read during my adolescence a book of adventures, titled “Meetings with Remarkable Men”, where his author, the half Armenian and half Greek Georgi Gurdjieff, cousin of Sergei Merkurov, writes that his father had been assesinated by the Turkish but he had never seen his tomb, and asked the lectors of his book that, in case that any of them ever could find his father’s tomb, in Gyumri, kindly write in the headstone of his grave the following epitaph:
- I am Thou
Thou are I
He is ours
We both are His
So may all be for our neighbor
Thanks to a man who was historian I could find Gurdjieff tomb in the cemetery, but it had already the epitaph written in Russian in the year 1974 by some of Gurdjieff relatives.
The next day I left Gyumri with a feeling of gratitude and undescribable happiness to be alive.
With that high state of spirits I started my long way back home, overland and oversea, experiencing many adventures on the way, until Barcelona, in my dear Spain.

Armenian heroes

Pedestrian street in Gyumri

  • Last visit to Gyumri: Oct 2007
  • Intro Updated Sep 5, 2014
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