The first settlement in Ani was begun in 4th. cc. It was on the silk road and saw many civilizations like Urartu(900BC), Kimmer, Saka Turks, Arsak, Sasani, Arab, Bagrat(Armenian Ani kingdom-732AC), Bizanthion, Seljuk, Ani gurcus, Harzemsah, Mongol(1235AC), Ilhanli, Karakoyun, Akkoyun, Afsar Turks, Ottoman, Russian and finally Turks(1921) again. You can see lovely old buildings, castle, walls... It takes at least 3-4 hours to see everything, one day is better. It was great to visit there even at snowy time.
Bring water and food with you, there is no shop around yet... There is a simple toilet.
The reason I came to Kars was to see the ancient Armenian capital of Ani--or what there is left of it. The site did not dissappoint. what remains is very impressive, and gives a hint at how grand the city of 100,000 once was. One wonders, however, just how long some of these remaining ruins will survive. Ironically, the mosque is being restored (though as one of the newer buildings, it seems in overall better condition anyway), while the old Armenian churches are lanquishing. Such is the nature of the prickly Turkish-Armenian dynamics. Anyway, go see it while there is something left to see!
This is a 9th or 10th century Armenian Orthodox Church, later converted to a mosque. It is usually locked, but the outside view is interesing. it is located just under the hill from the citadel.
There's a plaque on the front stating that it was built in 937, and that it was "opened for worship" in 1084. That means, of course, that it was converted to a mosque in that year.
The ruined city of Ani is always the main reason to visit Kars, and if you do nothing else in Kars, go to Ani.
Contary to what the Rough Guide or Lonely Planet say, getting there is easier than ever.
There is no paperwork required, no special documents or permits and no military check points on the way.
Also no part of the site is now off limits or out of bounds. I climbed up to the Citadel and you can get right down to the border and the Stone Bridge if you are a good climber and feel brave. But bear in mind if you fall and get injured there will be no help there!
If you can get a few people together, then get your hotel to arrange a local dolmus to take you there. But even if you cannot arrange a group, just take a taxi. Its well worth the cost of about 60 - 70 YTL about £25 / $45.
However get your hotel or a local to negotiate the taxi price before you leave and make sure the taxi driver will wait for at leadt three hours at Ani to bring you back. Our taxi driver had no problem with this.
See my Ani Travelogues for a walkthrough of the amazing sight.
DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT
- Visiting ancient ruins of Ani and Kars Castle,
- Visiting the Museum,
- Eating yellow fish at the banks of Çıldır Lake,
- Tasting the famous honey, sheep cheese and gruyere,
- Buying Kars Caucasian Carpet,
- Watching Caucasian Folk Dances,
- Skiing at Sarıkamış
This is the largest building in Ani. The Armenian cathedral was built entirely from stone between the year 989 and the year 1001 or 1010. In 1064, it was converted to a mosque by the victorious Turks, and remained so until 1124.
The devastating earthquake of 1319 brought down the dome and in 1988 it was damaged again by another earthquake. The inside of the cathedral is dark, and we were welcomed by noisy bats when we came in.
The eastern half of the church has collapsed during a storm in 1957. During the earthquake in 1989, the church was shaken so hard that this geometrically pure Armenian church could soon entirely collapse.
A long inscription in Armenian on the eastern wall of this church reveals that the church, commissioned by the wealthy merchant Tigran Honents, was completed in the year 1215.
At that time Ani was part of the Georgian kingdom and this church was devoted to the Georgian orthodox rite
In Turkish, this church is called Resimli kilise, meaning Painted church.
The church was dedicated to Saint Gregory the Illuminator, apostle and first Armenian patriarch.
The interior of Tigran Honentz is entirely covered with frescoes of the same date as the church. They have probably been painted by Georgian artisans. They depict the life of Christ (the Annunciation, the Nativity, the entrance to Jerusalem, the raising of Lazarus... ) and the Life of Saint Gregory the Illuminator (the western chamber of the church contains 16 scenes from his life).
The dome that you see on this picture shows a damaged depiction of the Ascension.
You may see ilbeyoglu hamam at the right side of the bridge. (Castle side) It is from 18.cc.
At the other side there is Mazlumaga hamami. It is builded at 1579.
This church is builded at Bagrat era, between 932-937 years. At 1579 turned into mosque.Russians turned into church again and it is mosque again.
It is a nice small museum. It is open until 17.00, except monday. There are archeological, ethnographical things and stone monuments...
It is builded at 1153 by Saltuks, Mongols destroyed and at 1579 reconstructed. There are 3 doors of the castle.
You may walk 6 months on this lake. You may watch to fishing from frozen lake and eat that delicious fishs. Mmm