The Ancient Ruins of Ani

Posted on Oct 1, 2013 in Culture, Turkey, Turkey (excluding Istanbul) | 16 Comments

Imagine this: a land of vibrant green plains with a picture-perfect cornflower blue sky. The countryside appears deserted, except for the occasional cow. On the horizon, incongruously, loom the giant crumbling carcasses of old Armenian-style churches, or slices of octagonal stone minarets. It’s quiet; it’s a screensaver that’s been interrupted by the remains of something long lost.

This eerie, abandoned land is called Ani, and it’s the reason I went to Eastern Turkey.

Cows in Ani

Ani was the ancient capital of Armenia, back when this slice of land was on that side of the border; now the old buildings stand like punctuation marks of worlds gone by. Armenia is visible across the river that serves as the (currently closed) land border; various military personnel and viewing stations can be spotted if you veer too close to the edge. It’s hard to avoid, as some of the churches hang tantalizingly over the river itself.

The Armenia-Turkey Land Border

Military in Ani

I encountered Ani originally in pictures, which were as lush and green as the image I described above, but when I arrived summer had taken its arid toll and the land was yellow brown. Actually it made the scene more bizarre: the ruins seemed to be growing out of the ground itself.

Arid Ani

Ani is a half-day trip from Kars, and many entrepreneurial drivers exist to ferry you from the city to the ruins. It’s still a fairly untouristed spot; for a long time the site was completely closed to the public, and when it was partially opened in the ’90’s, visitors weren’t allowed to take photographs. Now you are mostly free to roam and snap, though my driver did tell us not to go to certain sites that were too close to the border… advice which I (anxiously) ignored.

Two Red Tourists in Ani

Tourist in Ani

The land itself is full of illusions. It appears as flat as a prairie plain, but I quickly lost sight of the folks who had come over in the same cab, and buildings seemed to rise out of the flatness like mirages. The undulation of the ground is barely perceptible.

The Plains of Ani

Undulating Ani

There’s something majestic and mournful about this quiet abandoned city that time has left behind. Even under the hot midday sun, I could hear whispering ghosts of fallen empires, and standing on the cusp of a land border that remains defiantly closed lent the whole place a tinge of the forbidden, of the transgressive.

Church on the Border in Ani

Ani Gate

Ani is magical. It’s an isolated wonder worth uncovering, a monument to the past and reminder that all things must pass… or perhaps time will just leave us behind, sitting on the Armenian border, in quiet eternal contemplation.

Glorious Ani

 

 

 

It takes about an hour to get from Kars to Ani and cost me 40tl (about $20) for a shared cab. Celil,, my driver, tries to fill up the car and was a very knowledgeable man– you can him at +90 532 226 39 66.

16 Comments

  1. Renard Moreau
    October 1, 2013

    [ Smiles ] Thank you for sharing the ancient ruins of Ani with your viewers!

    Reply
  2. dalo2013
    October 2, 2013

    Wonderful post, and a great opening photo…very captivating.

    Reply
  3. Lada Brůnová (@ladab)
    October 2, 2013

    Mám tě ráda!

    Reply
  4. lalahearts
    October 2, 2013

    beautiful pictures! the landscape looks so amazing, i had never heard of ani before :)

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      October 6, 2013

      Thank you! Ani is not as well-known as Cappadocia or Pamukkale, but it was just as captivating.

      Reply
  5. Browsing the Atlas
    October 3, 2013

    Those ruins really do look like they’re sprouting up out of the ground. Beautiful pictures. I especially like the one of the soldiers.

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      October 6, 2013

      Thank you! There’s a story about that picture– they approached me and asked in very broken English if they could take a picture of me. I only agreed if they let ME take a picture of THEM.

      Reply
  6. pollyheath
    October 3, 2013

    Love this. My friend actually recently went here, but his pictures didn’t do nearly as much justice to the place.

    Reply
  7. agentlabroad
    October 3, 2013

    This is one hot-damn beautiful post, woman, and I am jealous of your adventures.

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      October 6, 2013

      Lady, you flatter. I’m loving your Panama posts, keep ‘em coming!

      Reply
  8. Doyle Air
    October 21, 2013

    Your photos are just so exquisite! You should consider publishing a travel coffee table book!!!

    Reply

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