The city of Ani, also known as the city of 1001 churches and city of forty gates, dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries AD when it became the capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom and gained considerable power and wealth by standing in various trade routes and maintaining its position as an important commercial center. It has been more than three centuries since Ani was invaded and looted by the great Seljuk army, and all its population was killed, and now it is a ghost city. Ani was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2016.
Ani, an Armenian city located in the Turkey province of Kars, has gone through some interesting events in history, and that is why today it has many offers for visitors. With a population of about 100,000, this medieval city was once one of the world’s biggest cities before it was destroyed by a Mongol invasion and a terrible earthquake.
However, even after its decline, the city has left valuable memories. Souvenirs of residential, religious, military structures, palaces, and fortifications are among the most notable examples of Gothic architecture in terms of antiquity and technicality. Therefore, Ani was famous for its splendor and majesty, and today it is still a symbol of the Armenian cultural, religious, and national heritage. Also, it’s a source of pride for this country.
Ani is located in a triangular position and on a sheltered plateau in the northeast of Turkey (45km away from Kars province). Dramatical view and defensive nature are the results of being surrounded by the Akhurian River from the eastern side and the Bostanlar Valley on the western side, creating the closed boundary with Armenia. The site stands at the height of approximately 1,340 meters. Ani can be considered a strong fortress located at the top of the hill and the holder of the Armenian Kamsarakan dynasty.
The structures that Ani has placed on itself come in great and special colors such as creamy yellow, rose_red, and jet black. These structures’ material is also very creative, made of volcanic and tufa basalts that are very quickly carved.
It is also called Surp Asdvadzadzin, meaning Church of the Holy Mother of God. The church was designed by Trdat, the most famous Armenian architect of the Middle Ages, and is a domed basilica. But the dome collapsed in 1319. The interior also has the appearance of Gothic architecture. The pointed arches and cluster piers delight everyone. The construction process began in the year 989 and ended in the year 1001 (there is another view that says in 1010).
The Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents
The church has many extraordinary features, from its plan, which is a domed hall, to its exterior, which is covered in the most impressive way possible. This best_preserved building at Ani was built during the reign of the Zakarids by one of the richest Armenian merchants, Tigran Honents. The construction was completed in 1215.
At first, the entrance of the church surprises you. After, your eyes will be enchanted by the beauty of the stony appearance on the four sides of the church, carved in the form of real and imaginary animals. The interior artistically depicts important and unique paintings that include two main themes.
In the eastern third of the church, you can see the depicted life of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, and in the middle third of the church the depicted life of Christ. This type of extensive mural painting cycle is very unique in Armenian architecture.
The Church of the Holy Redeemer
The construction project of this church was finalized in 1036, and it was mostly unbroken until the storm of the year 1955. The unique design of this church was done by Prince Abolgharib Pahlavi, and it is a house of a segment of the True Cross. This unique design contains 19_sides externally, 8_apsed internally, and also a grand main dome established upon a lofty drum.
The Church of St Gregory of the Abughamrents
This church is a small building from the late tenth century AD. Inside, there are six awesome towers. The main buildings of this church are the tombs of the Pahlavuni family because this building was the private chapel for their family. The dome on the drum in this church is very eye-catching.
How to Visit
If you do not have a personal car, there is no need to worry. Shared taxis are ready to help you, you can request a taxi from any hotel, but if your trip starts at 10:30 in the morning, it’s possible to enjoy browsing by walking in Kars before this time. To fill this free time, choosing a hotel near the Citadel is a smart choice. The Citadel is a dug hill.
If you go inside, you have a chance to visit the ruins of several churches. One of them is the (Church of the Palace), dating back to the 7th or 8th century. It is the oldest building at Ani. If you go to the Citadel, do not forget your camera, a unique viewpoint is waiting for you to see the whole city from above and take good photos with the city view. You can find a small coffee shop near the river located inside a ruin and catch your breath.
The time it takes to get there depends on your hotel location, but if you stay at our recommended hotel near the Citadel, it takes about 45 minutes from the time you take a hotel taxi to reach Ani. You will usually be given 3 hours to see the site, but you should be fast as it’s not enough to take your time.
What Do I Need?
We suggest that you have the following items in your backpack. You may need these things while visiting, so it’d be better if you get ready for everything.
When traveling to Ani, you should have a pair of comfortable shoes so that you can easily walk around and check out the churches and interesting places.
However, when the sun rises, the weather is warm, and with these breathable shirts, you can figure out better times for yourself and enjoy the weather more.
Prepare yourself for wind and rain with a lightweight, portable waterproof jacket so that nothing can ruin your trip.
Whenever it comes to long walks, having a bottle of water is essential. During this trip, access to drinking water is not much easy.
How to Get There and Where to Stay?
From different cities of Turkey, there are different ways to reach Kars. Every morning several buses take passengers from Van to Kars, and you are about 7 to 8 hours on the road. Also, there are daily buses and trains from Erzurum to Kars, which take 3 to 4 hours.
Hopefully, there is no problem with accommodation in Turkey. This country is a famous destination for many people globally, and that’s why you have many options to choose from for accommodation. As an illustration, Hotel Kent Ani is a luxury offer in Eastern Turkey, but you will not regret it. But you will definitely find cheaper hotels on the main street.
We hope you experience pleasant moments in this interesting land, and be sure to share your experiences with us.