Archaeological Site of Ani

N40 30 0 E43 34 0
Date of Inscription: 2016
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Property : 250.7 ha
Buffer zone: 432.45 ha
Ref: 1518
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This site is located on a secluded plateau of northeast Turkey overlooking a ravine that forms a natural border with Armenia. This medieval city combines residential, religious and military structures, characteristic of a medieval urbanism built up over the centuries by Christian and then Muslim dynasties. The city flourished in the 10th and 11th centuries CE when it became the capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratides and profited from control of one branch of the Silk Road. Later, under Byzantine, Seljuk and Georgian sovereignty, it maintained its status as an important crossroads for merchant caravans. The Mongol invasion and a devastating earthquake in 1319 marked the beginning of the city’s decline. The site presents a comprehensive overview of the evolution of medieval architecture through examples of almost all the different architectural innovations of the region between the 7th and 13th centuries CE.

Ani is located in the northeast of Turkey, 42 km from the city of Kars, on a secluded triangular plateau overlooking a ravine that forms the natural border with Armenia. The continuity of settlement at Ani for almost 2500 years was thanks to its geographical location, on an easily defensible plateau that was surrounded by fertile river valleys at an important gate of the Silk Roads into Anatolia. This medieval city that was once one of the cultural and commercial centres on the Silk Roads, is characterized by architecture that combines a variety of domestic, religious and military structures, creating a panorama of medieval urbanism built up over the centuries by successive Christian and Muslim dynasties. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Ani flourished in the 10th and 11th centuries AD, when it became a capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratids, and profited from control over one branch of the Silk Roads. Later, under Byzantine, Seljuk, and Georgian sovereignty, it maintained its status as an important crossroads for merchant caravans, controlling trade routes between Byzantium, Persia, Syria and Central Asia. The Mongol invasion, along with a devastating earthquake in 1319 and a change in trade routes, marked the beginning of the city’s decline. It was all but abandoned by the 18th century.

The principal area of the property consists of architectural remains located in three zones: the citadel, which includes the ruins of the Kamsaragan palace, Palace church, Midjnaberd church, Sushan Pahlavuni church, the Karamadin church and the church with Six Apses; the outer citadel or walled city which includes amongst others the Fire Temple, Cathedral, Ramparts of Smbat II, Emir Ebu’l Muammeran Complex, Seljuk Palace, domestic architecture, the market, and the Silk Road Bridge; and the area outside the city walls. Rock-carved structures on the slopes of one of the valleys surrounding the city, the Bostanlar Creek, are also part of the property.

Religious monuments of Zoroastrian, Christian and Muslim influence, as well as public and domestic buildings in Ani provide a vivid and comprehensive picture of a distinctive relic medieval city which attests to the transmission and amalgamation of different architectural traditions that evolved in the Caucasus, Iran, Turkestan and Khorasan, and were translated into stone. This medieval settlement consists of remains from a multi-cultural centre, with all the richness and diversity of Medieval Armenian, Byzantine, Seljuk and Georgian urbanism, architecture, and art development.

Criterion (ii): Ani was a meeting place for Armenian, Georgian and diverse Islamic cultural traditions that were reflected in the architectural design, material and decorative details of the monuments. New styles, which emerged as a result of cross-cultural interactions, have turned into a new architectural language peculiar to Ani. The creation of this new language expressed in the design, craftsmanship and decoration of Ani has also been influential in the wider region of Anatolia and Caucasia.

Criterion (iii): Ani bears exceptional testimony to Armenian cultural, artistic, architectural and urban design development and it is an extraordinary representation of Armenian religious architecture known as the “Ani school”, reflecting its techniques, style and material characteristics.

Criterion (iv): With its military, religious and civil buildings, Ani offers a wide panorama of medieval architectural development thanks to the presence at the site of almost all the architectural types that emerged in the region in the course of the six centuries from 7th to 13th centuries AD. It is also considered a rare settlement where nearly all of the plan types developed in Armenian Church architecture between the 4th and 8th centuries AD can be seen together. The urban enclosure of Ani is also an important example of a medieval architectural ensemble with its monumentality, design and quality, as well as the tunnels and caves beneath Ani plateau, which connect to the surrounding volcanic tufa setting of deep river valleys.

Suggested Bases:

Kars is a city in Eastern Anatolia. It is most frequently visited as a jumping off point for travelers going to Ani, but it is a viable destination in its own right for its 19th-century Russian imperial buildings, and, of course, its role as the setting for Orhan Pamuk’s famous novel Snow. A small village on the Rideau River in Ottawa, Canada is named “Kars” in honour of General Sir William Fenwick Williams’s defence of the town of Kars, Anatolia during the Crimean War. Kars is one of the highest cities in Turkey, at an altitude of about 2000 metres over the sea level. This, coupled with its lack of maritime influence, causes the city to experience a hemiboreal climate, with short, mild to warm summers and long, frigid and snowy winters. It also features a storm season from April to June, which tends to be much more severe than other places in Turkey [read more].

Ağrı is the capital of Ağrı Province in eastern Turkey, near the border with Iran. Formerly known as Karaköse from the early Turkish republican period until 1946, and before that as Karakilise, the city is now named after Ağrı, the Turkish name of Mount Ararat. In the Ottoman Empire era, the area was called Karakilisa. The current town center was founded around 1860 by a group of Armenian merchants from Bitlis with the name Karakilise (lit. ’the black church’) that became known to the local population as Karakise, and this version was turned officially to Karaköse at the beginning of the Republican era. This name was changed to Ağrı by 1946. In the medieval period, the district’s administrative centre was located at Alashkert, once an important town. The “kara kilise” that gave the town its name was a medieval Armenian church. In 1895 Lynch stayed in Karakilise and wrote that it had between 1500-2000 inhabitants, was nearly two-thirds Armenian, and that a barracks for a locally recruited Kurdish Hamidiyeh regiment had been recently located in the town [read more].

Erzurum is a city in Eastern Anatolia, and is the hub for visiting eastern Turkey. Erzurum is the highest major city (population: 360,000 according to 2000 census) in Turkey, situated at an altitude of about 2000 metres above sea level. Combined with the distance to the sea, this makes the climate of this area the harshest in Turkey with the temperatures in long, heavily snowy, and bitterly cold winter regularly below -30°C at nights (and no warmer than -15°C during the day). Wet summers in Erzurum are around 30°C in the day time and chilly at night, although temperatures dropping down to freezing point during summer are becoming rarer and rarer each year, probably with the advance of global warming. The city hosted the international 2011 Winter Universiade (“university olympic games”). Erzurum is a pretty small city, and you can cover most of it by foot, unless you are thinking of heading out and around the city, in which case, most public buses and taxis will be able to get you there [read more].

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