Gravestones with very lifelike depictions of the deceased are very common in Armenia, but nowhere do they leave such a crushing impression as on the Gyumri cemetery. The city, then called Leninakan, was struck by a massive earthquake in 1988. On December 7th at 11.41 the earth shook for 40 seconds, taking the lives of over 25.000 men, women and children and leaving a wasteland for decades to come. Another Armenian tragedy.
Most victims in Gyumri are buried on two large cemeteries just outside the city. Here thousands of hollow eyes are staring at you from the gravestones: many children – who died at school- and (in)complete families. Many graves depict the date 7 XII 1988 and the clock that forever holds 11.41 …
I visited the cemetery for the second time in 2016, almost 28 years after the tragedy. Gyumri has not recovered since.
All pictures are taken by Claudia Venhorst, 16 October 2016.