Last week I was very lucky to see this enchanting medieval Armenian city ruins in the province of Kars in Turkey. Known also as “the City of 1001 Churches”, this ancient city is composed of ruins of a number of religious buildings and palaces surrounded by fortifications.
It was especially impressive visiting the site in winter. In spite of the temperatures showing -16 Celsius, I felt the desire to walk around for hours following the paths defined by aligned volcanic basalt (the same local material that was used in the construction of the buildings here). The presence of the volcanic stone here also indicates the relation of this site with the earthquakes throughout the history that accelerated its decay.
The first mentioning of the fortress of Ani dates back to the 5th century. Until this historical city was entirely abandoned as a settlement area by the mid-18th century, it was conquered by Seljuks, ruled by Shaddadids (a Muslim Kurdish dynasty), captured by Mongols then ruled by several Turkish dynasities and Persian Safavids until it became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Another significance of this city now in ruins is its location on the ancient trade routes. Silk road that passed through Ani said to had promoted the commercial importance of this city in history. Today, the ruins of the old stone bridge located on the Akhurian River (Arpa Çay) stand as a reminder of this ancient route. This river also serves as the current border between Turkey and Armenia.
An interesting incident happened when I arrived King Gagik’s Church Of Saint Gregory. I met three kids who said that they are working there as tourist guides to earn some pocket money. They said this ruined structure to be a mill, probably due to its circular layout. As a result of a small research I found out that the structure was never very stable since it was built around the years 990-1020 and was shortly collapsed.
© Gizem Kahraman© Gizem Kahraman