Ani is a ruined city which lies right on the border with Armenia, about forty minutes’ drive from Kars amd it has been home to humans since the cave man times.
Ani is a ruined city which lies right on the border with Armenia, about forty minutes’ drive from Kars.
It has been the site of an incredible mix of civilisations and cultures from its earliest inhabitants, cave men some 4000 years BC.
There is also evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlements, and the remains of a fire temple built by the Urarturians around 900BC.
But it is during the past 2000 years that the history of Ani became even more complex and left the major ruins we see today.
It was part of the Sassanian Empire until the Arabs swept in, in 646 AD.
By 966 it was the independent Kingdom of Ani ruled by a succession of Armenian kings and it was during this time that most of the churches we see today were built.
The Seljuks captured it in 1064 and continued to rule here until 1235 when the Mongol hordes under Timurlane arrived and destroyed the city – but not the huge churches.
The Ottomans finally took over in 1534, were ousted by the Russians in 1878, and in 1921 it was restored to the embryonic Republic of Turkey.
It lies on a triangle of land with dramatic gorges on two sides.
One of the gorges actually forms the border with Armenia and you can see the Armenian, or possibly Soviet, military installations on the other side of the gorge.
In this view of the gorge you can see the cave dwellings on the far side, reminiscent of Cappadocia.
In fact the rock is the same rock found in Cappadocia, tufa, but here it only starts some metres below the surface, hence no chimneys have been formed.
However, the soft tufa rock allowed inhabitants to carve out caves and underground cities – none of which have yet been excavated.
They also quarried tufa blocks to build the impressive city walls and other structures within the city, which we’ll be showing you in our next episode – stay tuned.