Fouilltes de Sagalassos

Ani, old capital of the Armenian Kingdom

on 07/03/2013

The site of Ani

         At 45 kilometers from the city of Kars in north-eastern Turkey, is the site of Ani, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Armenia.

         Now located on the territory of Turkey and the Armenian border, the place for which a good half day is needed for a full tour, leaves no one indifferent. The middle of the steppe, arise here and there ruins that testify to the glorious past of this crossroads of trade which housed 100,000 inhabitants.

Ani takes its name Anahita, the Persian goddess Aphrodite identified and adored Urartians, a kingdom that existed in the tenth century BC and who disappeared four centuries later.

The entrance is through the Lion’s Gate of the citadel whose impressive round towers surrounding a portion of the site.

The principal remains are still visible today are religious. Several churches, a cathedral and a mosque are the most representative buildings of Ani.

In 1957, lightning has reduced the Church of the Redeemer, built in 1034-1036 to only half, providing a very picturesque face of desolation! This church was hosting a piece of the True Cross came from Constantinople.

Between the path and the winding gorge below the church of Saint-Grégoire-de-Honentz, also called the Church of Images impresses visitors. Built in 1215 on the orders of Tigran Honentz, it is dedicated to Gregory first,an apostle and first Armenian patriarch. Both the interior murals partially visible to the richness of the exterior architecture gives a clear idea of its glorious past.

     Ani was once the seat of the Orthodox Armenian Patriarchate and the cathedral was the most magnificent building in the city. It has repeatedly been turned into a mosque before returning a church and finally be renamed mosque of victory when Seljuks took possession. The dome has disappeared but when one is inside the building, can not help but be impressed by its strength that it exudes.

Close by the mosque Menucer, built in 1072 by the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia surprised with its rectangular shape, its octagonal minaret and marriage styles sedjoukide and Armenian.

        The route then takes you to the castle church of the Virgin Mary hanging on the rock in a corner of the course. His visit is not possible, because it is located in a military zone as some other parts of the site. A little later, the Church of St. Gregory (Abughamrentz) with a conical roof dates from the late tenth century and closely resembles damaged by lightning.

Of the Holy Apostles built in 1031 evokes far a field of ruins but when approached, it allows us to appreciate its refined architecture and sweetness that emanates from the porch.

The end of the course we can see cave dwellings arranged in the rock and the only remaining wall of a Georgian church built 1000 years ago.

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