Ani, Turkey – the ancient Turkish metropolis

The Turkish city of Ani: what to see, how to reach it, location on the map

My husband Dmitry and I have been living in Antalya for more than 9 years. I hope these articles and our travel experience will be useful. The information is updated regularly. So feel free to ask questions in the comments and on the telegram channel.

Last updated article 19.05.2019

Founded in the 400s, this once great, now abandoned city is endowed with many Armenian-style churches. Despite being ruined, Ani attracts tourists from all over the world.

Ancient Ani: the ruined “city of 1001 churches

Ani, also known as the “City of 1000 Churches”, is a great symbol of pride for Armenians, being a highly developed Armenian city of the medieval world.

Ani, located in the Turkish province of Kars, near the border with Armenia, was the capital of the Armenian kingdom of the Bagratids between 961 and 1045 AD. The city, located at the junction of an ancient international trade route, was very prosperous and was strongly influenced by the world’s major cultures, which is clear from the examples of art and architecture preserved today.

Turkish city of Ani: see what to see, how to get there, location on the map

At the time of its “heyday” the city was populated by about 100,000 people. The fall of this great city began with the Mongol invasion in 1236, when Mongol forces sacked Ani. In 1319, an earthquake struck Ani, destroying many of its buildings, causing great chaos and evacuating the city.

Turkish city of Ani: see what to see, how to get there, location on the map

Tourists interested in Turkish and Armenian culture find Ani a fascinating place filled with ancient wonders.

The City of Ani on the map

City of Ani on the map

How to reach Ani in Turkey

The historic site can be visited from the nearby town of Kars, the capital of Kars Province. Kars has a domestic airport, Kars Harakani Airport, from where daily domestic flights connect to Istanbul and Ankara. Kars is also served by Turkish railroads with a station connecting Erzurum.

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From Kars you can take a minibus, cab or car to visit Ani. Since there are no accommodations in Ani, tourists usually plan a day trip from Kars to Ani and back.

Sightseeing in Ani

Turkish city of Ani: see what to see, how to get there, location on the map

The history of Ani is riddled with stories of invasions, vandalism and earthquakes. This ancient city today is almost entirely uninhabited, lying in a paramilitary zone near the disputed border between Turkey and Armenia. Buildings stand in ruins and their remains are widely scattered across the green, hilly landscape of the region.

Turkish city of Ani: see what to see, how to get there, location on the map

One of the most striking sights here is the Church of Christ the Redeemer, which has a crack right in the center and represents a lightning strike in the past. The ruins of Ani provide historians with significant insights into Armenian culture, lifestyle, art and architecture of the past.

The buildings of Ani are made of local volcanic basalt, available in several natural colors such as yellow, red and black. The soft texture of these stones also makes it easy to engrave drawings on them.

Turkish city of Ani: see what to see, how to get there, location on the map

Some of Ani’s famous architectural examples include:

  • The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which uses pointed arches and cluster supports in its interior,
  • the church of St. Gregory of Tigranes of Honenza, with domed halls, impressive stone carvings, and frescoes,
  • several other churches
  • Manucira Mosque,
  • the citadel and the city walls,
  • the ruins of the baths,
  • oil presses,
  • the ruins of a bridge and old residences.

Ani today

Turkish city of Ani: see what to see, how to get there, location on the map

Ani has been forgotten and ignored for years, leading to the loss of many of its architectural wonders. The fact that the ancient city was located in a disputed area in Turkey, Ani was severely restricted to government visits for a long period of time.

Recently, however, the situation has changed and tourism to Ani has increased significantly. Several international heritage organizations have expressed their concern about Ani from time to time in the past.

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In 2010, the Global Monuments Fund considered Ani one of the world heritage sites in danger of extinction.

Finally, in 2011, the restoration of monuments in Ani was initiated by the World Monuments Fund together with the Ministry of Culture of Turkey.

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And in 2016, the archaeological area of Ani was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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