Ani Ruins is a historical place located on the eastern border of Turkey. Ani was included in Unesco’s world heritage list in 2016. You can find information about the history of the city of Ani in this article. Ani Ruins entrance fee and opening hours are also noted.
Ani Ruins stands out among historical places to visit in Turkey. If you want to get off the tourist route and do something different, you can consider visiting places such as Ani Ruins, Mount Nemrut and Sumela Monastery.
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Where are the Ani Ruins
Ani Ruins are located in Kars, the easternmost city of Turkey. Ani is very close to the Turkish-Armenian border and 46 kilometers from Kars city center. According to researches, the settlement around the city dates back thousands of years. However, most of the historical buildings in the city of Ani were built during the Bagratid Kingdom.
Located in the entrance of Anatolian route of Silk Road, it is considered that this town was an important center throughout the history. Apart from the unique examples of Armenian architecture, there are also constructions of Byzantine and Seljuk architectures.
Ari Ruins are located in an area that 78 hectares wide. Recognized as an archeological site, this place includes various historical structures such as caravansary, bathhouse, church, palace and bridge.
History of the City of Ani
The history of the city of Ani goes back 1500 years. However, the peak period of the city was between 961 and 1045, when it was the capital of the Bagratid Kingdom.
Bagratuni Dynasty was founded after Armenians were freed of Arab dominance. Historical findings show that this dynasty ruled from 885 to 1045. Bagratid Armenia was a strategic place in the power struggle between Byzantine Empire and Abbasid Caliphate.
Even though the dynasty ruled shorter than 200 years, it made a lot of progress in culture and economy under the rule of King Ashot III. It is worth noting that the City of Ani is the achievement of Ashot III on a large scale.
The reign of Ashot III is considered as “The Golden Age of Armenia” by historians so we can say that the City of Ani gained importance in this era. After moving the capital from Kars to Ani, King Ashot III started to make developments in the city. Churches, schools, hospitals, mansions and palaces built in this era in the city of Ani can still be seen in this day.
The city of Ani was also situated in an important trade route so there were a lot of markets, taverns and factories in the city. Ashot III had huge walls built known as “Ashotashen” during his rule. The constructions he contributed in this city earned him the title of “Voghormat”, meaning “the merciful” in Armenian.
Things to See in the Ani Ruins
There are many things to see in Ani Ruins. I recommend that those who like to take pictures come here in winter. Because the snow-covered ruins give you the opportunity to take magnificent photos.
The city of Ani gives us important clues about the medieval Armenian architecture. Although the city of Ani stands out with its buildings from the Bagratid Kingdom, it continued to be a trade center during the Seljuk Empire. For this reason, it is possible to see mosques and caravansaries inspired by the Seljuk architecture in the city of Ani.
1. The Great Cathedral
The Great Cathedral stands out as the most beautiful church to see in Ani ruins. The church was originally dedicated to the Holy Mother of God. The church, which started to be built in 989 during the period of King Smbat II, was completed in 1001. An Armenian architect named Trdat built the church.
The main reason why the church is so famous is its architect. Because Trdat has been the most respected architect in the Medieval Armenian community. Trdat, who managed to go beyond his time with his techniques, gave life to this gothic-looking cathedral of Ani.
2. The Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents
The Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, whose construction was completed in 1215, is the best preserved structure of Ani. It was built with donations by an Armenian merchant named Tigran Honents. The church has a very impressive decoration.
The church is dedicated to Gregory the Illuminator, who brought Christianity to the Armenian community. St. Gregory is also accepted as the founder of the Armenian Church and many churches dedicated to him in Turkey.
There are priceless medieval frescoes inside the church. Since fresco was not very common in Armenian churches, the drawings here are unique. In the drawings, the life of Jesus and Saint Gregory is depicted.
3. The Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins
The Monastery of the Hripsimian Virgins was built on the caravan road reaching the City of Ani. The only structure that survives from the monastery is a small chapel. The chapel, located on the western bank of the River Arpacay separating Armenia and Turkey.
The monastery complex was built by Tigran Honents in the 13th century. Surrounded by high walls, the monastery was dedicated to the nuns of Saint Hripsime. The monastery is one of the rare historical monuments that have survived to the present day in Ani.
4. The Mosque of Manuchihr
The mosque of Manuchihr is known as the first Turkish mosque in Anatolia. Sultan Alparslan, who conquered Ani in 1064, handed over the city to the Shaddadid Dynasty in 1072. The mosque was built in the name of Ebul Menucehr, the king of the dynasty.
The only part of the mosque that has remained intact until today is the minaret with 99 steps. The remaining parts have been partially renovated. However, the Bismillah (meaning in the name of god) inscription embroidered with the motifs of the Kufi alphabet on the north wall is still there.
Kufi is the geometric interpretation of Arabic letters, which are difficult to use in works of art, engraved in tiles, carpets and calligraphy.
5. The City Walls of Ani
The City Walls of Ani encircled the city and protected it from all kinds of enemy attacks. The strongest defensive wall in the city was located in the northern part.
Because this front was the only face of Ani that was not naturally protected by rivers and valleys. Most sources report that these walls were built by King Smbat, who ruled between 977 and 989.
The walls are made of concrete core, covered with beige basalt, carefully cut and intertwined. The walls are patterned with red and black stones. Crosses on the wall decorated with heraldry and talismans and symbols.
6. The Seljuq Caravanserai
The Seljuk Caravanserai, built in the 12th century in Ani, is located on the main street. The decorations on the door of the caravanserai reflect the classical features of the Seljuk architectural style.
The city of Ani was located on the Silk Road, the most important trade route from China to Europe. Caravansaries were built on these trade routes, where merchants would rest. Today, there are many caravanserais left from the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (Successor of the Seljuk Empire) in Anatolia.
Ani Ruins Entrance Fee 2024
Ani Ruins entrance fee is 180 Turkish Liras as of 2024. Museum Pass Turkey is valid for the entrance to Ani Ancient City in Kars. The information on the ticket price was last updated on December 1, 2023.
Ani Ruins Opening Hours 2024
Ani Ruins opening hours are between 08:00 in the morning and 17:00 in the evening. Please also note that ticket sales at the box office end at 16:30. The City of Ani can be visited everyday of the week. Information on visiting hours was last updated on December 1, 2023.
There may be changes in the visiting hours of Ani Ruins due to various activities or restorations. Therefore, you are advised to visit the official website of the museum to see the latest status before you go.
Located in Kars, Turkey’s easternmost point, the Ani Ruins promise an unparalleled experience to its visitors. Here you can see the traces of a kingdom that existed in the Middle Ages and reached its peak in terms of architecture.
Although the Ani Ruins are beautiful in all seasons, you can take the most beautiful photos during the winter months. Due to the popularity of the Eastern Express (Dogu Ekspresi) in recent years, tourists pour in from Istanbul to Kars and, of course, to Ani Ruins in winter.
On this website, I introduce the important museums of Turkey. Among these, Pamukkale Hierapolis in Aydin, Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia, Saint Pierre Cave Church in Hatay and Troy Ancient City in Canakkale stand out with their interesting stories.
Written by Serhat Engul