The official opening of the ice rink and Vernissage took place in Gyumri Friendship Park on February 3.
Winter games, expo-market, master classes, an ice show etc.: the official opening featured a cultural program with involvement of Gyumri residents, guests of the city and tourists.
Now both children and adults will be able to use the public ice rink equipped with innovative solutions and modern technologies in the Friendship Park as an important winter tourism element. The mobile ice rink with the surface of 815 sqm will be equipped with all the skating items, uniquely designed dressing rooms and breathtaking turns.
The 25 wooden pavilions of the Vernissage were made by local artisans and will serve a permanent exhibition-fair for showcasing pieces created by Gyumri craftsmen and artists. Тhe need for having Vernissage in the cultural city of Gyumri was already obvious, so it will be the first one here. The functional pavilions of the Vernissage can modify their structure and application turning to food joints or mobile galleries if needed. With the ornaments of their retractable awnings, the pavilions feature the best traditions of the national tapestry. The ornaments were created by a group of Gyumri artists; the Vishap (“dragon”) rugs – the oldest, most unique, intricate, and exquisite pieces – make the nucleus of these ornaments.
Тhe construction of Vernissage pavilions and ice rink was carried out by the Tourism and Urbanism (TUF) Charitable Foundation with the support of the EU4Business “Innovative Tourism and Technology Development for Armenia’’ project, which is co-funded by the EU, BMZ and implemented by GIZ.
“As we prioritize balanced economic development in Armenia, initiatives like Friendship Park are crucial in bringing prosperity and growth. I have no doubt that this park will act as a catalyst for tourism in Gyumri and breathe new life into the Shirak region. This park is not merely a new public venue for Gyumri. It stands as a testament to the revival of this incredible city, rich in history and culture. I am proud that we, at the European Union, are able to support its creation,” said H.E. Andrea Wiktorin, Ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia.
“This project is already successful owing to numerous partners of TUF, the Armenian Government, international organisations, and philanthropists who make the reconstruction of the Friendship Park come true. The project has brought together many people and it is indeed a result of friendship. We are sure the park will contribute to the development of the city infrastructure and promote tourist attractiveness of and social-economic activity in the region. I am convinced we will have a chance to implement such wonderful programs in Artsakh as well,” says Ruben Vardanyan, the Founder of Tourism and Urbanism (TUF) Charitable Foundation, State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh.
“Shirak region is a very important region for us. The German government has been continuously supporting the implementation of many projects in various fields here. Many of them were aimed at the development of tourism, because the potential of this region is very big. It is enough to walk around the old historical city of Gyumri for a second and be convinced of it at once. I am sure that the renovated park will become popular among both locals and tourists and will contribute to the socio-economic development of the region,” said H.E. Viktor Richter, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to Armenia.
“Gyumri is already a tourist destination. This park gives you the opportunity to visit Gyumri at any time of the year and have fun. I would like to see not only children but also adults on the ice rink. As for the pavilions of the Vernissage, they give the park a unique flavor, as they express the local creative spirit. I am confident that the park will attract more tourists, who will spend time and money in Gyumri and, thus have a direct impact on the local economy,” said Wilhelm Hugo, Team leader of the EU4Business “Innovative Tourism and Technology Development for Armenia (ITTD)” project.
The overall reconstruction project is implemented by Tourism and Urbanism Charitable Foundation (TUF) as a pioneering model of public-private partnership and social-economic development.
The Government of the Republic of Armenia is involved in the renovation of the engineering infrastructure of the park and adjacent streets with the budget of $1.7 million within the framework of the “Local Economy and Infrastructure Development Project” program carried out on a World Bank credit, which is implemented by the Armenian Territorial Development Fund.
“The Armenian Government considers Gyumri development with a special focus on improvement of tourism, culture and economy. And the Friendship Park will become a unique place and nice recreation area both for Gyumri and Gyumri guests,” said Vache Terteryan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of the Republic of Armenia.
“The Friendship Park is the best example of state-community-foundation friendship. The Park was given a new life owing to this very friendship. I am happy that “Winter in the Friendship Park” became a festive event with the opening of the ice rink and interesting fair. I hope that the full restoration of the park will end soon, and it will become a fascinating entertainment venue for both locals and tourists,” said Mushegh Muradyan, Governor of Shirak Marz.
“I am happy to welcome you all on this very important occasion for Gyumri. The opening of a park with green areas and new and modern solutions for leisure was long awaited. The Friendship Park is one of the most important points for Gyumri development. I am sure that the park with its capacities, new and interesting solutions will become one of the best recreation zones in the Republic and will boost tourist flows to Gyumri as well,” said Vardges Samsonyan, Mayor of Gyumri.
The total budget of the park reconstruction project is about $12 million, of which more than $4 million has been invested by the Foundation’s partner organizations and several individual benefactors.
The Park will be ready by 50% this autumn and it will be fully operating in summer 2024.