AniTuesday, August 3, 2021
Ani is a ruined medieval Armenian city now situated in Turkey's province of Kars, next to the closed border with Armenia.
Between 961 and 1045, it was the capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom that covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey. The iconic city was Called the "City of 1001 Churches", 50 churches, 33 cave churches and 20 chapels have been found so far. Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world: it housed the Cathedral of Ani, which is associated with early examples of Gothic architecture that is generally accepted to have influenced the great cathedrals of Europe of early gothic and Romanesque styles; Its ribbed vaulting would not be seen in European cathedrals until at least two centuries later. At its height, Ani was one of the world's largest cities, with a population of well over 100,000 alongside Dvin.
Renowned for its splendor, Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236. Ani never recovered from a devastating 1319 earthquake, and was gradually abandoned until it was largely forgotten by the 17th century. Ani is a widely recognized cultural, religious, and national heritage symbol for Armenians. According to Razmik Panossian, Ani is one of the most visible and ‘tangible’ symbols of past Armenian greatness and hence a source of pride. In 2016, it was added in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The city took its name from the Armenian fortress-city and pagan center of Ani-Kamakh located in the region of Daranaghi in Upper Armenia. Ani was also previously known as khnamk (Խնամք), although historians are uncertain as to why it was called so. Heinrich Hübschmann, a German philologist and linguist who studied the Armenian language, suggested that the word may have come from the Armenian word khnamel (wikt:խնամել), an infinitive which means "to take care of". Ani was also the diminutive of the ancient goddess Anahit, who was seen as the mother protector of Armenia. One legend claims that the daughter of Aramazd, the supreme god of Armenian mythology, was called Anahit, which means “golden-haired” or “golden-handed.” But for some reason, every person who looked at her would exclaim: “Ani!”, which mean “that one” or “the most beautiful one” in Armenian, thus that became the most common name for her. The city of Ani was also considered one of the most beautiful and iconic cities in the Middle Ages.
According to the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam: "A suggestion has been made that the town may owe its name to a temple of the Iranian goddess Anāhita (the Greek Anaďtis)".
The city is located on a triangular site, visually dramatic and naturally defensive, protected on its eastern side by the ravine of the Akhurian River and on its western side by the Bostanlar or Tzaghkotzadzor valley. The Akhurian is a branch of the Araks River and forms part of the currently closed border between Turkey and Armenia. The site is at an elevation of around 1,340 meters (4,400 ft).
The site is located about 400 metres from the Turkey-Armenia border. Across the border is the Armenian village of Kharkov, part of Shirak Province.
All the structures at Ani are constructed using the local volcanic basalt, a sort of tufa stone. It is easily carved and comes in a variety of vibrant colors, from creamy yellow, to rose-red, to jet black. The most important surviving monuments are as follows.