The ruins of the great Armenian
capital, collapsed by an earthquake in
1319, sleep beneath an undulating
blanket of green grass,
offering one of the most evocative
panoramas in Turkey.
Named for the ancient Urartian fertility
goddess Anahid, a city had stood
here for centuries before King Ashot
III chose it for the site of his capital
in 961. Successive kings built a citadel,
great churches and monasteries within
mighty city walls at the edge
of a deep river gorge.
Ani flourished for less than a
century before being conquered
(1045) by the Byzantines,
then by the Seljuks (1064),
followed by the kings of Georgia
and various Kurdish emirs.
In 1239 the Mongols swept
in and swept everybody else out,
and in 1319 the earthquake cleared
out the Mongols. Ani has been in
ruins ever since.
Many of Ani's churches, being
very substantial buildings, survived
the earthquake and have lasted through
the centuries, floating on the sea
of grass above the collapsed rubble
of the rest of the city.
Official permission to
visit Ani is no longer needed.
Just go to Ani and buy a ticket.
If you don't have your own car, haggle
with a taxi or minibus driver in Kars for
the round-trip to Ani, perhaps sharing
the cost with other travelers. If you
have trouble, the Tourist Office may
Plan to spend at least a half-day at
Ani. It's not a bad idea to bring a
picnic lunch and a water
km (28 miles) W, 1 hour