Sev Berd or Black Fortress is an abandoned Russian imperial fortress in Gyumri, Shirak Province, Armenia. The fortress, which lies 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from the Turkish border, was built in response to the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829. It is a national cultural heritage monument in Armenia.

Gyumri, which lies on the border with Turkey, became part of the Russian Empire after the Treaty of Gulistan. Gyumri was renamed Alexandropol in 1837 after the visit of Tsar Nicholas I, in honor of his wife, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna.

The fortress was built on top of a hill, and the full fortification took a decade after the first stones were laid in 1834. The fortress is a 360-degree round structure made of black stone, from which it gets its name. After Russia’s loss in the Crimean War, Sev Berd was upgraded and designated a “first-class” fortress. It never underwent a siege, but was of strategic importance in victories over the Turks in subsequent wars that lasted through 1878. The fortress was downgraded to “second-class” status in 1887, after the final Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 that saw Russia gain strongholds in Kars and Batumi.

The Russian 102nd Military Base was built in the 1940s next to Sev Berd. The base remains active today for the Russian military, which provides national defense support for Armenia.

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What to do in Shirak

Shirak Province is named after the Shirak canton of the historic Ayrarat province of Ancient Armenia, ruled by the Kamsarakan noble family between the 3rd and 8th centuries.

According to Movses Khorenatsi, the name Shirak is derived from Shara, who was the great grandson of Hayk the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. However, according to the Shirak Regional Museum, many historians assume that the name is derived from the name Eriakhi found in an ancient Urartian cuneiform, where king Argishti I narrated about his invasion of the land of Eriakhi.