The name of the city has been changed many times in history. It was first known as Kumayri or Gyumri, then Alexandropol (also, Alexandrapol, Alexandropol’, Aleksandropol’, Alek’pol, Alek’sandrobol, and Alek’sandrapol, 1840–1924), then Leninakan (Armenian: Լենինական , 1924–1990), then again as Gyumri.
During the Middle Ages Gyumri was known as a great settlement, and the center of Armenian rebellion against the Arabian regime (733-755).
Gyumri continued to develop in the 19th century, when, along with its surroundings, it became part of Russia, as a result of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813). Gyumri came under Russian control in 1804 around 25 years earlier than the rest of eastern Armenia. During this period it was one of the best-known cities of the Trans-Caucasus region. In 1829, on the heels of the Russo-Turkish War there was a major influx of population as about 3000 families from the western Armenian cities of Kars, Erzurum, Doğubeyazıt and other places in the Ottoman Empire settled in Gyumri.
In 1837 Russian Czar Nicholas I arrived in Gyumri and renamed the town Alexandropol. The name was chosen in honor of Czar Nicholas I's wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, who had changed her name to Alexandra Fyodorovna after converting to Orthodox Christianity. A major Russian fortress was built on the site in 1837. In 1840's, Aleksandrapol (a town since 1840) was quickly growing. It was an important outpost for the Imperial Russian military in the Transcaucasus, where their military barracks were established (Poligons, Severski, Kazachi Post).
Alexandropol was considered to be the third most important trade and cultural center in the Trans-Caucasus after Tiflis and Baku (Yerevan would not rise to prominence until being proclaimed the capital of the independent Republic of Armenia in 1918 and Armenian SSR in 1920). At the end of the 19th century, the population of Alexandropol reached 32,100 residents, mostly Armenians. From 1858-1876, St. Prkich (Saviour) church was erected, designed to resemble the Cathedral of Ani. The first rail link to Alexandropol was finished in 1899, which was the Tiflis-Alexandropol railway. The rail line was then extended from Alexandropol to Yerevan, Jolfa (in 1906), and Tabriz. As a result, Alexandropol became an important rail hub.
During the Turkish-Armenian War, Turkey attacked Gyumri and occupied the city on November 7, 1920, after winning the Battle of Alexandropol. After the battle, the Turkish forces were headquartered in Gyumri. From this city the Turks presented the Armenians with an ultimatum that Armenia was forced to accept -- otherwise Turkey would have invaded Yerevan, Armenia's capital, from their headquarters in Gyumri. Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Alexandropol to stop the Turkish advance towards Yerevan, the capital of Democratic Republic of Armenia, thus ending the Turkish-Armenian War. Turkish forces withdrew from Alexandropol after Treaty of Kars.
In 1924 the name was changed to Leninakan after the deceased Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. Leninakan was a major industrial center for the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and its second largest city, after Yerevan, the capital. The city suffered major damage during the 1988 Spitak Earthquake, which devastated large parts of the country.
The current name of the city was chosen in 1990, at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Russian 102nd military base is located in the city. Today, Gyumri is Armenia's second largest city.
Gyumri is also considered as the capital of Armenian humour.
Gyumri is served by the Shirak Airport, located about 5 km from the center of town. The airport offers regular flights to Moscow, Sochi and Rostov-on-Don. It also serves as an alternate airport to Yerevan's Zvartnots International Airport.
Shirak airport was closed for renovations from June 20th til October 20, 2007, during which time the runway was repaved and work was done on the airport lighting and the main terminal.