Armenia's second-largest city was almost levelled in the 1988 Spitak earthquake, and reconstruction works are still underway. It's not a particularly attractive place, but its bustling market and location on one of the main routes into Georgia means that it is visited by a reasonable number of tourists.
The townsfolk of Gyumri have a distinctive accent with hints of western Armenian, and a famously ridiculous sense of humour in tandem with conservative social mores. Other Armenians like to tease Gyumritsis about local delicacies such as kalla (cow’s head) and the particularly rich stew of khash made here in the cold seasons (made from animal parts). The winters last longer here than in Yerevan, until April or May.