We arrived Ani Ancient City next to Ocaklı Köyü which is located 42 kms away from Kars.
Ani Ancient City is by the side of Arpaçay, which is a branch of River Aras and it creates a borderline between Kars and Armenia. The other side of Arpaçay is Armenian territory. Ani is surrounded from northwest by Bostanlar Brook. Its south and southeast sides were being protected by thick walls which are now collapsed.
Ani city has become a settlement since 3000BC. 24 different civilizations had ruled here. This city had hosted different civilizations such as Hurris, Urartu, Kimmers, Scythians, Corsacs and Arabs until the 8th century.
The city had established on the Silk Road, thus it ould be seen as an important trade and accomodational city. Back then, Silk Road bridge, which is on Arapçay and mostly collapsed, were connecting Turkey and Armenia. But there is no connection now, because the bridge was collapsed.
Many artifacts are waiting to be emerged in this ancient city, which was located on a bigger area than Ephesus ancient city was.
The city walls were built so good strategically that it was almost impossible for enemy soldiers to get in. When the time they were built, the walls were 4.5 kilometers. But, of course most of it were collapsed. The 100-150 meter uncollapsed part was restored. There is about 5-6 meters distance between inside and outside walls. The height of them is about 7-8 meters. The enemy who passes the wall outside comes across with a second one. At that moment, the enemy between two walls was smashed. These walls had been constructed wisely.
Most of the artifacts in this city were damaged by earthquakes, lightnings and diffucult conditions of winter. It is said that even the dynamites blown up in quarries on the side of Armenia affected those damages on artifacts. Arapçay and its valley, on the eastern side of the city, are quite deep. It look like a canyon up from the sky.
It was given titles to the city such as “Heart Broken City” and “City with 1001 Churches”, but that happened a long ago. There are buildings built specially to every belief. There are different chapels like churches, cathedrals and mosques. That’s why the title “City of Chapels” is given to this city.
In the early 11th century, the city has a population of 100 thousand people. In 1604, the Sultan of Seljuk, Alparslan said that he conquered the city and gave the domination to Sheddadi dynasty. Ani is written in history as the first city which was taken by Turkish people.
Menucher Mosque which was built in 1072 by Suljuk Turks, has an octagonal minaret and is still standing. It is the first Turkish mosque in Anatolia.
Because of the earthquakes and invasions over the years, the population has decreased. The city was invaded and destroyed by Mongolians in 1239. After the earthquake in 1319, it has become uninhabitable. Because of this and the Silk Road’s being unimportant, the city has been left.
One of the most worth-seeing artifacts in the city is Jesus the Redeemer Church. This church is also known as St. Patrick Church and Keçel Church. It is a cylindirical church built by King Sambad III in 1034. As a result of a lightning strike in 1930, the church was severed, but the other half is still standing.
Because it was a big and old settlement, we could see the remains of a giant Turkish bath.
Tigran Honents Church was built in 1215. Its frescos, which symbolizes the life of Jesus Christ on inside walls and on the dome are the most important works of that time. Because it’s full of frescos, it is also known as church with paintings. The sun clock on the wall looking at Arapçay’s side is one of the figures that should not be missed.
Abukgham Vent Grepor Church, which was built by King Gagik II in 998, is located on the cliffs. That’s why this church is also given the name “Dove Church”. The other name is Young Girls Church.
The Big Cathedral, on the other hand, was built between 987 and 1010. It was used as a mosque after Alparslan conquered the city. That’s why it is also known as Fethiye Mosque. It is only the one in the best condition among all the artifacts in Ani Ruins.
Apostle Church, one of the masterpieces of Armenian architecture, was built as a patriarchate in 1031. After Seljuk’s conquest it had been changed into a caravanserai with additional buildings.
Then, we left the ruins walking through the ruins of agora (city bazaar).