The Ancient Ghost City Of Ani “the city of a thousand and one churches.”
Ani is a Turkish Medieval Armenian city on the banks of the Akhurian River. It was established circa 3000 BC and was listed by UNESCO as a global cultural heritage site in 2016.
The historic settlement is located in a natural gorge that serves as the boundary between Turkey and Armenia, making it a perfect spot to defend and one of the most significant Silk Road hubs.
During the Han Dynasty in China, from around 207BC to 220AD, trading along this route connected the eastern and western sections of Asia, and subsequently Europe.
Ani has been designated a First Degree Archaeological Conservation Site, putting it under the protection of Turkey’s National Law No. 2863 for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties. It also requires clearance from the Kars Regional Council for the Protection of Cultural Assets.
The huge architectural projects performed throughout the years by both Muslim and Christian kings, as well as the amazing number of churches, distinguished Ani.
According to bbc.com, the city was known as “The City of 1,001 Churches” during the era when Armenian monarchs dominated it. While there were not many churches, at least forty houses of worship have been discovered thus far.
Ani was at its pinnacle in the 10th and 11th centuries, when it was ruled by the Bagratuni Armenian royal line, but it was destroyed shortly after by the Seljuk Turks and the Byzantine Empire. According to britannica.com, the population in the early 11th century was estimated to be over 100,000 people.
The outer citadel contains, among other things, the Fire Temple, the Ramparts of Smbat II, the Seljuk Palace, the Emir Ebu’l Muammeran Complex, and the Silk Road Bridge. The Bostanlar Creek and rock-carved structures on the slope of a neighboring valley comprise the third zone outside the city’s walls.
There are remnants of religious statues from the Muslim, Christian, and Zoroastrian faiths. Architectural and artistic relics from the Byzantine, Medieval Armenian, Seljuk , and Georgian civilizations may be found.
Numerous new art and architectural styles emerged as a result of cultural mixing from the 7th to the 13th century AD, as seen by the many distinct forms of architecture utilized in the construction of churches, military facilities, government buildings, meeting places, and dwellings.
Unfortunately, previous restoration crews tampered with the original construction materials. At the time, the teams excavating the site are more concerned with fixing past teams’ mistakes than with discovering new structures.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which administers finances and is in charge of the site’s conservation, has prepared several plans over the years and is continually upgrading what is required.