2009/08/20: Ani by Taxi
The first view of Ani, after entering its gates, is stunning: wrecks of great stone buildings adrift on a sea of undulating grass, landmarks in a ghost city that was once home to nearly 100,000 people, rivaling Constantinople in power and glory.
Ani was a major city on the Silk Road from when it was founded in 961, and it was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey. It was a significant city until the great earthquake of 1319 toppled it. At that time, the Mongols – no lovers of city life – ruled, and the city was left in ruins from which it has slowly decayed until today. What is left is an amazing site on the Armenian-Turkish border, where one is free to roam over several square kilometre of ruins. It was initially explored by Russian archaeologists around 1900, with more recent work done later by Turkish experts.
We took the day off cycling and took a pleasant taxi ride to the site set on the river at the Armenian-Turkish border. We spent 3 hours roaming around the site and having our lunch in the remains of a 10th century church. Describing Ani is well beyond my abilities, so we offer some pictures to give you a flavour.