The Ancient City of Ani, Lost and Forgotten

By | January 12, 2017

In the 11th century, this walled city with over 100,000 residents flourished. The City of Ani, now situated at the heart of several trade routes, was discovered more than 1,600 years ago.

With the following years, Ani and the surrounding region were subdued hundreds of times by Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians who claimed and reclaimed the city. Residents were assaulted and chased out many times.

By the 1300s, Ani was heading a steep decline, and when 1700s came, it was completely forsaken. The city had a fleeting moment of fame when it was reborn and romanticized in the 19th century. But it was abandoned again by World War I and during the later events of the Armenian Genocide which left the city an empty, militarized no-man's land.

When the city was totally abandoned, the remains crumbled at the hands of looters, vandals, the Turks who tried to eradicate Armenian history from the area, as well as clumsy archaeological digs, even those well-intentioned people who made poor restoration attempts, and Mother Nature herself.

This is the Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins, in the city of Ani, Turkey, on April 19, 2011. The monastery is said to have been established between 1000 and 1200 AD, near the height of Ani's development and strength. The Akhurian River shown below acts as the modern boundary between Turkey and Armenia.
city of ani 1

April 19, 2011: Ruins of the Mausoleum of the Child Princes in the Citadel in Ani. Located in the Inner Fortress on Citadel Hill, this building is thought to have been constructed around 1050 AD.
city of ani 2

The remains of the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents located on the edge of the border with Armenia, in Ani, the recently uninhabited capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom in Kars at the Turkey-Armenia border.
city of ani 3

Inside the Cathedral of Ani, on June 4, 2013. The construction of the framework started in 989 AD, completed in between 1001 or 1010. Designed as a domed cruciform church, the dome and the drum supporting it both collapsed in an earthquake in 1319.
city of ani 4

The photo of Virgin's Castle, atop cliffs along the Akhurian River, June 4, 2013.
city of ani 5

Ani, as seen from across the border, in Armenia.
city of ani 6

The medieval walls of Ani, viewed on July 30, 2008.
city of ani 7

The Ani Cathedral, located in the Turkey-Armenia border province of Kars, Turkey.
city of ani 8

Inscription on one of the exterior walls of the cathedral.
city of ani 9

Damaged frescoes of the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, seen at the historical site of Ani in Kars province, on February 19, 2010.
city of ani 10

The remains of the church of the Holy Redeemer, part the ruins of the historical city of Ani, on February 19, 2010.
city of ani 11

Ruins of an ancient bridge seen below Ani, photographed on June 19, 2011. Armenia is on the right, Turkey on the left.
city of ani 12

The Turkey-Armenia border, on June 19, 2011.
city of ani 13

Ani cathedral with Armenia's Little Ararat viewed in the background.
city of ani 14

A Military warning sign together with the Citadel behind, in Ani, on June 8, 2011.
city of ani 15

The damaged church of the Holy Redeemer, seen on February 19, 2010.
city of ani 16

The Citadel (left) and Mosque of Minuchihir (right). The mosque is so-named after its presumed founder, the emir Minuchihr, who ruled Ani at the start of 1072.
city of ani 17

The Ani Cathedral, photo captured on September 12, 2008. Turkey launched a project to preserve the ancient cathedral and a church, shown as a gesture of reconciliation toward neighboring Armenia.
city of ani 18

Brilliant frescoes inside the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents, on June 4, 2013.
city of ani 19

Showing the scale of some of the ruins, an interior shot inside the Ani Cathedral, on June 24, 2012.
city of ani 20

Damaged frescoes of the church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents in Ani, on February 19, 2010.
city of ani 21

Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents, Ani, on June 19, 2011.
city of ani 22

The meager remains of King Gagik's church of St Gregory, a framework built between 1001 and 1005, but collapsing soon thereafter, image captured on June 24, 2012.
city of ani 23

A gorge below Ani, showing many caves dug into cliffs, and also fortifications. A modern fence as border can be seen at bottom center, Armenia is on the left, Turkey, on the right, image captured on June 8, 2011.
city of ani 25

Careless renovation of the Merchant's Palace, adding mismatched modern elements to ancient ruins.
city of ani 26

An overview of Ani, on June 24, 2012.
city of ani 27

H/T TheAtlantic