St Prkitch church
St Prkitch church

One of the most wonderful surprises I encountered in the middle east were these ruins of the Armenian capital left in tatters by the Mongol invasion a thousand years ago.  Being an enthusiast of ruins, I thought I had heard of all the great ones, but somehow Ani had escaped my notice.  I probably wouldnt even have gone, as its a hassle to reach, were it not for the advice of Lockie, a cycling Aussie that Id met in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and kept in touch with since that time.  He has also been travelling for three years and would have a good perspective on what was truly spectacular and what was more hype.  Internet research revealed nothing interesting, as so few people seem to have visited it, located at the edge of Turkey on the Armenian border.  The ruins themselves are visible from the adjacent Armenian hills and on the anniversary of the Armenian holocaust, bonfires are lit on these hills as a vengeful reminder to the Turks. 

Needless to say, I was enthralled by the sublime beauty of the site, so difficult to capture photographically, set on a high grassy plain between two deep river canyons.  Most of whats survived from Ani are the great churches, scattered across the meadow.  No single ruin by itself is heartstopping but the assembled collection, protected by a citadel on one end and by a formidable defensive wall on the other, constitutes what I consider one of the great ruins in the Middle East, along with Petra, Baalbek and Palmyra. 

Since so few images of Ani exist on the internet, and certain few good ones, Im making a special effort to put these pictures of Ani online, to encourage others to make the effort to visit.  It took me a couple of hours to hitchhike here from Kars, and was the last tourist site I saw in Turkey, and it was well worth it.

St Prkitch church backside
St Prkitch church viewed from another angle

Part of the entry wall fortifications of Ani.

Along the fortifications.

inside Ani walls
The inside of the Ani fortification wall

Ani entry gate
The main entry gate to Ani, from the inside of the city

Ani canyon
Overlooking one of the canyons flanking Ani

Ani canyon and church
Abughamrents church next to a river canyon

Ani ruined column
A ruined column along the river canyon

approach to Abughamrents church
The approach lane to Abughamrents church

Abughamrents church
Abughamrents Georgian church

Ani meadow
Downtown Ani?

Ani cathedral
Armenian cathedral

cathedral meadow
Cathedral with Manucehr mosque to the left

Cathedral meadow
Cathedral with other river canyon to the left

Grinding mill

Gagik church
Gagik church

Gagik columns

Gagik columns
Pieces of ruined columns inside Gagik church

Ani cave church
Cave church carved out of the cliff alongside a river canyon