GUM is the largest covered market in Yerevan, where local farmers offer their products. The unconventional name GUM comes from the Soviet era and stands for “main universal store” (in Russian “Glavnyy Universalnyy Magazin”), which was the name for large department stores in the cities of the former Soviet Union. While most of them were closed after the fall of the USSR, the Yerevan GUM survived and still attracts locals and tourists.
The market is divided into different sections, each offering a different assortment. The front part is dedicated to dried and candied fruits, nuts and spices.
One of the most significant items is sujukh, a delicacy made of walnuts soaked in fruit juice jelly. Of course, you’ll also find the most famous fruit of Armenia – dried Armenian apricots.
Vendors are active and often invite you to taste their products. Many goods are sold by weight, so it’s a good idea to ask for the price before buying. Especially with dried products, the weight can be significantly higher than you might estimate.
As you go further, you’ll encounter meat, fish and cheese vendors. When I visited the GUM market, there were high temperatures in Yerevan (around 37 degrees), so I wasn’t too eager to try exotic things. However, the vendors offered, for example, a very interesting cheese made from goat or sheep milk, which is buried in a clay pot underground in the mountains for about half a year. I’ll taste the delicacy called “Horats Panir” (in Armenian “Հորած Պանիր”) next time.
The market also offers a wide range of dried and smoked meats, pickled vegetables and spices.
You’ll also find many vendors offering dried herbs, such as the renowned Armenian teas (I gladly brought back wild mint tea, but packaged, see the separate article “What to bring from Armenia?“).
Of course, there’s also a section with fresh fruits and vegetables. The prices of all products are lower than in supermarkets. In the Yerevan GUM market, it’s not possible to pay by card (there might be exceptions, but I didn’t come across any), so it’s recommended to come in the morning when the offer is the widest. It’s an interesting place that everyone should visit in Yerevan.
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