ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF ANİ
Ani, located on a hilltop of a volcanic tuff layer on the Turkish-Armenian border, 42 kilometers east of Kars, was an important medieval city. The name of the city was derived from Ani-Kamakh, the Armenian fortress city and pagan center, located in Daranaghi region of Armenia.
The history of Ani dates back to 5,000 B.C. to the Chalcolithic period. Ani was the capital of the Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia between 961 and 1045. The city of Ani prospered in the tenth and eleventh centuries and flourished as a branch of the Silk Road. It is known that the population of Ani was more than 100,000 at its peak. In 1236, Ani was captured and sacked by the Mongols. By the fourteenth century, the city had been ruled by several dynasties such as the Jalayirids and the Kara Koyunlu (Qara Qoyunlu). The city was damaged by an earthquake in 1319. After the death of Timur who captured Ani in the 1380s, the Kara Koyunlu regained control of Ani, but they transferred their capital to Yerevan. The Safavids ruled Ani until it became a part of the Ottoman Empire in 1579. The site of Ani was totally abandoned by 1735 when the last monks left the monastery in the Virgin's Fortress. In 1878, Kars region was incorporated into the Russian Empire. During the World War I, the Ottoman armies fought and captured Kars in 1918. However, after the end of the World War I, Ani was under the control of Armenia. After the treaty of Kars held in 1921, Ani became a part of the land of the Republic of Turkey.
In the archaeological site of Ani, one can see a comprehensive overview of the development of medieval architecture including the cathedral, Surp Stephanos Church, the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, the church of the Holy Redeemer, the church of St Gregory of the Abughamrents, King Gagik's church of St Gregory, the church of the Holy Apostles, the mosque of Manuchihr, the citadel and the city walls, dating from the seventh to the thirteenth centuries.
The inner castle, forming today’s archaeological site, was built in the time of the Armenian Kamsarakan dynasty in the fourth century A.D. Fortified outer walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravanserais that were built under the reign of Ashot III in 964. The walls were later reinforced by order of Sembat II in 978. The third wall was constructed at the order of Ani Bey, Ebul Menucehir in 1064-1072, after Seljuk Sultan Alparslan conquered Ani in 1064.
The first archaeological excavations of Ani were carried out in 1892. It was sponsored by the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and supervised by Nicholas Marr, a Russian archaeologist, and continued yearly until 1917. From 1989 to 2005 excavation projects were conducted by Hacettepe University under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Beyhan Karamağaralı.
In 2016, the Archaeological Site of Ani was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.
World Heritage List: Archaeological Site of Ani
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):