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Rambler's Top100

: Itineraries | : admin | 15.03.2007, 04:19

The most beautiful, magnificent, the richest It is possible to characterize the pearl of the East with such words - the city of ANI, which was in the limelight for long years, due to its exclusive beauty and grandeur. Even now,when only ruins of the city areleft, it continues to be admired by everyone.
The city of Ani is located on the high bank of one of the tributaries of the river Akhuryan.
The first mention of city dates from the V century. Historians mention the unapproachable fortress located on the rock, and named Aghchkaberd. However, till VIII century ni remained a usual fortress. Only since IX century it had become a large economic, political and cultural center, and in 961 became the capital of Armenia. The city started to be built up intensively. Many churches, palaces, residential structures were under construction. The fortifications were restored as well. Since 1045 Ani had become free city. It became large industrial centre. Here more than 50 kinds of crafts were engaged in: processing of metals, pottery, weapon and smithery business, weaving and carpet weaving etc. Brotherhoods (hamkarutyun) were created by the trades of handicraftsmen. Both agriculture and trade were booming. The city became large scientific and cultural center. It became famous for its historians, poets, architects and builders. Theatrical performances were put on here, the songs were created and sung by gusans( scalds). In the city many schools began to function. But the city was not only a large political and industrial centre. Those years Ani became the spiritual center of Armenia, as here there was the seat of Armenian Church.
Ani was a beautiful city. It was called the city of arts and crafts. It was famous for its majestic churches, magnificent palaces and otherwise edifices. The enemies tried to conquer the city many times. But Ani was heroic city. It managed to repulse the attacks of enemies for long years. However, since1236 the period of decline of Ani had begun. At first the city was seized by Seljuks, then by Mongols. One part of 100000 large population of the city was resettled deep into the countries interior, another part - resettled themselves. So the bitter destiny scattered worldwide the inhabitants of Ani. They can be met in Poland, in Hungary, and in Crimea and elsewhere. Some families from Ani founded Zeytun. As for the city itself, though continuing to exist, it soon fell into decay. The earthquake of1319 made an end of everything destroying the city. But even now the ruins of highly artistic constructions of the city stand stately, reminding us about our valorous past.
Contemporaries called ANI the city of 1001 churches.
The Tsarina of churches is the MAIN CATHEDRAL (the church of the VIRGIN or ASTVATSTSIN) .It is already for more than millennium that the pearl of architecture has been drawing the attention of tourists and experts. The church was built in 989-1001. The place was chosen with special carefulness. The church was visible from any part of the city, and a fine panorama of the city opened from the church. The beauty and greatness of the construction were all there in its strict simplicity. The church was laid out of smooth black, yellow and red stones. Of special grace was the arcade on facades of walls of the building. Over the planes of the facades of the cathedral passes a decorative arcade that obviously softens severe big cube-shaped volume. The high graceful harmonious half -columns acting on the walls are linked together by arches. The windows having rich and beautiful appearance are in harmony with them. From within the church is also notable for its rigor and grace. The dome of the building bases on four powerful columns which end in intersected arches providing organic continuation to columns which then perch on a smooth western wall of an altar and vestibules and merge with it. In the upper part the columns were bisected and rounding to the right and to the left, combined with the arches going from other columns. Above a three-stage arcade there was a drum of the dome, all 20 edges of which were also surrounded with decorative arches. The internal space of the cathedral was brightly illuminated. Except for 16 windows of the dome drum, both big and medium windows were placed on facades. The vestries are also supplied with windows. The church was notable for its rich interior. On the walls of the building there were highly artistic sculptural images. Any nuance in internal furnishings was thought over with special carefulness. As to experts, there are elements of Gothic and romantic architecture in construction, which emerged much later in Europe. Many enthusiastic opinions of the contemporaries were kept about magnificent internal furnishings of the cathedral. Both golden and silver church utensils were mentioned, among them the silver cross of the dome, at the full height of a human, and the magnificent crystal luster brought from India.
The cathedral had three main entrances. The southern one was especially magnificent. On the southern facade a sundial was established. There are many inscriptions on the walls. The cathedral has reached up to now, only its dome was destroyed in 1840.
One of the well-known constructions of the city was the church of ARAKELOTS (APOSTLES), constructed in 1004-1031. This rectangular building with four niches and crowned with the cruciform covering consisted of five domes. Four of them were laid on four vestries as though forming separate churches. The biggest central dome was laid on powerful columns. By the type of construction the church reminds a VII century basilica. Further two vestries and chapels were attached to it. The Church of ARAKELOTS differs from other churches of the city especially for its magnificent and graceful furnish. Magnificently painted dome of the church especially amazed eyewitnesses. The church was richly decorated with unique sculptures. There were many inscriptions on the walls. Platbands of doors are covered with highly artistic carving. In church the hiding place for storage of expensive church utensils was found out. Facades of church are decorated with half columns, ending in graceful arches, niches. Up to now the facade of one wall and arches of another wall were kept only. From available domes only one is intact. The building was constructed of black and red stone. It is supposed that the patriarchy of church resided here. Archeological excavations of this church were carried out in 1909. According to archeologists none of ruins of Ani possesses similar beauty, grace and luxury. The oldest church, found at excavations, was the PALACE church which was constructed in VII century, and in XIII century other constructions were attached to it. On the preserved columns there were many sculptural images, and walls are covered with beautiful paintings. Experts argue these paintings were fine samples of genre painting.
Church St.GRIGOR or GAGIKASHEN was constructed through 1001-1010. The temple was completely destroyed and before the excavations its ruins had been covered with a nine-meter layer of the ground. During the archeological excavations launched in 1905-1906 all of the territory of the temple was opened. After studying the arrangement of the remnants of the temple and basing on evidence of medieval historians, its shape was restored. It was a three-tier building similar to Zvartnots. But it was not its mechanical copy. The cathedral from outside is surrounded with 36 arches, has 36 windows, three doors the platbands of which are beautifully decorated. In comparison with Zvartnots, the sizes of underdome spaces were extended here. Instead of heavy columns 72 gentle, proportional columns were built inside the temple. Its external walls were ornamented more richly than internal ones. The statue of the king Gagik executed in full height holding a breadboard model of church in his hands was established at the wall. Gagikashen was one of the highest constructions of Ani. Its height was up to 48 meters.
In the city there were many churches, constructed by various families of princes. The 1036 Church of St. PRKICH (St. Savior) is among them . Its thick walls are laid out of big ashlars due to which the building held out during the centuries. It is a round, two-storey construction consisting of two reducing premises placed against each other. The columns, which were constructed along the walls and completed with graceful arches, gave special splendor and rigor to the construction. Among the arches and eaves there is a solid belt decorated with fine ornaments. The door of the church is framed with skilfully ornamented stone framework. All its 12 windows were decorated as well. On the walls there were many inscriptions. From within, the church was very richly and beautifully painted. A belfry with a vestry was attached to the southern side of church in 1291.The church has preserved up to now.
One of the remarkable constructions of the city is the church St.GEVORG. It is supposed, that it was constructed in 980. The church stood in its protogenic appearance before the earthquake of 1988. The building of church was small, with a fanlike dome. But it was so masterfully designed and constructed, and so richly painted, that left impression of an impressive construction. In 1040 the chapels of St. STEPANOS and St.CHRISTOPHOR were attached to it which served as patrimonial tombs.
Church of Gregory the Illuminator was constructed in 1215. Sometimes it`s named monastery of igran Ovents (named after the builder). The church was constructed at the Main gate of external walls of the city on the ledge of the gorge. By appearance the church is similar to a cathedral. It yields to the previos one only in sizes. The decorative arches based on beautiful semipillars decorating external walls of church are especially fine. All of them are richly decorated with an ornament with the image of pheasants, cocks, fallow deer, eagles. On a southern wall there was a vast inscription about the construction of the sructure about the gifts presented to the church. The building was covered with a polylateral dome. The interior of the building is notable for its rich painting . The walls feature the scene of condemnation of Grikor the Illuminator by the king Trdat III . Figures of people are painted in red color. Above the heads prevails dark blue color . On the walls there are also many sculptural images. Because of special magnificent furnish the church was subsequently named Nakhshli. Near to it there were numerous economic constructions and baths. The church is rather well-preserved . Its walls and the parts of the dome and the rests of the monastic wall situated here are also existent nearby.
Near to fortifications, outside of the city, is the church OVVI (Shepherd), constructed in X century. The legend goes that the church ostensibly is constructed by one old man - shepherd who on the day of Easter, having been late, failed to enter any of the churches of the capital as all churches of the city were overcrowded with believers. Therefore this church was incorporated outside of fortifications of the city. The church was small, its diameter was equal to 6,35 meters. Outside it was three-tier, and from within - two-tier. The first circle had a starlike design, on it went up less rough second and third tiers. If in the first tier there were 12 triangular and 6 semicircular niches in the second one there were only 6 of them, and the third tier had more simple design. From the viewpoint of architecture the six hanging arches are considered miracles each of the ends of which is based upon a column, and other ends converge in the center of the arch. At the place of their crossing hung the luster illustrating the premise. In a design of the dome many architectural Gothic elements are used. In opinion of archeologists studying the ruins of this construction, this church does not concede either to Cathedral of ni, or GAGIKASHEN. It is named " a pearl of architecture of ni " .Hitherto the ruins of this beautiful three-tier construction are well- kept.
Church BATAKHEK (which is known also under the name of church Hachatura or St. Grigory). All the four walls of church were very richly painted. Plots of its ornaments and paintings were basically on religious themes. The ornaments proliferate in animal, bird, plant images At one of the walls the big statue of the builder with model of church in hands has been found. Now a few samples of paintings are kept in the Hermitage.
Church ABUGAMRETS or St Grigory. Because of the small sizes the church is frequently named a chapel. It represents a two-tier construction of 12 sides. On the sides there are deep niches. Refined columns, finished arches prop up a drum upon which the dome complete with 12 windows is based. From within the walls of the church were covered with simple but majestic painting. They had the religious contents. The church has reached us in a gratifying condition.
In city there are ruins both of Georgian church, and church Hambulents (1042), and church Shushik (1037). Many chapels from XI-XII of centuries are there.
For moslems settled in Ani there were built mosques. Basically, they were created by reorganizing the Armenian architectural monuments. So was constructed the mosque anuchea . (It is one of the most well kept constructions of ni). This building raised in X century supposedly served as a watchtower as it was near the big bridge acrosss Akhuryan river connecting royal palace with the other parts of the city. In XI century above the construction was built a high octahedral minaret toward which led 85 steps . Mosque anuchea is considered one of the masterpieces of ni architecture . This beautiful two-storey building is adorned with columns and arches. On the second floor there was a beautiful, spacious hall of 2833 meter. The ceiling was decorated with the mosaic which was laid out of black and red stone. The premise was well-lit. Light penetrated through four wide windows looking on to beautiful gorge, and through yerdik in the ceiling. On the ground floor there were rooms with hiding places and premises for storage of various things. Under them was an extensive cellar. The minaret of the mosque was beautiful, too. It was one of the highest constructions of city. On walls, mosque, and minaret were inscribed many inscriptions in Armenian and Arabic language narrating about historical events of city. The building of the mosque is kept in good condition. Therefore at the end of XIX century, after being reinforced by additional constructions, the mosque was adapted to a museum. Here are kept many fine subjects found at excavation, the statue of king Gagik, a part of frescos of church of GREGORY THE ILLUMINATOR and etc..
In comparison with cult constructions, civil constructions are nearly not preserved.
For example the ROYAL PALACE was found out only at archeological excavations. A 50 meter long corridor dividing the palace into parts was found. The building of the palace was two-storey. On the ground floor there were economic constructions, on the second - a hall of feasts. Unfortunately, nothing has remained from the rich and magnificent ornaments of palace described by eyewitnesses. Nearby there was a PALACE church. On one of its walls is fixed the date of its foundation - 622 . The church was laid out of smooth ashlars. In a palace there was also a bath consisting of seven rooms.
During the excavations other palaces were found, too. The palace which is referred to as a "princely" palace or palace "Parona" was found out. The palace has reached us in quite a derelict condition: some parts of its walls, basement, some parts of a vaulted ceiling on the ground floor, etc. were kept only. This palace was two-storey from the city side and three-tier - from the side of the gorge. The palace was built of red stone. Its front part faced the city. This part of the building is perfectly decorated. The laying of walls of the ground floor is mosaic - consists of black crosses and pink eight-beam stars. The second floor is laid out of smooth black and pink stones. The palace consisted of several halls and rooms of different size which were used for various needs. On the internal side of walls of the second floor at places plaster is visible. Ornaments of the door and platbands - crosses, stars, various geometrical patterns are especially remarkable. The ground of the second floor is covered with a black and pink cut stone in order of a chess board. On the evidence of eyewitnesses, on the wall of the palace there was a bas-relief of the person resembling a soldier.
Other known palace is famous as the house of Sarkis as on its facade which was beautifully ornamented with red and black stars, was engraved Sarkis. The palace was built of yellow stone in XII-XIII century.
During excavation the so called "CHESS HOUSE" was found out. This small two-storey building had one room per floor. The facade of the building was laid out in a mosaic from red and black clear-cut stone. The ground floor was blocked by the stone arch. The walls were laid out of red and black stones in shape of a chess board.
At excavation some hotels were discovered. One of the constructions consisted of two oblong halls (or court yard), in the center of each of which there was a reservoir hollowed from an integral stone. Halls are paved with hewed stone plates. On four parts of halls corridors extended. On them, along walls, were situated some rooms. Under these rooms cellars were available - for storage of goods of merchants. Platbands of doors, the facades of halls facing the streets, were beautifully ornamented with the images of stars, polygons, crosses, etc., made of red and black tuff. Above the entrance in one of the halls was a bas-relief image of a sphynx, in another - lions` and snakes`. One of halls was two-storey. At hotel there were various services for serving visitors. So, for example, copper-smith's workshop was found.
In city the water main was operated. Through the clay pipes water ran into the city from outside springs. In the city especially at palaces, iron pipes were laid.
Of particular interest are subterranean structures called Cave-Ani. Under the ground the entire blocks which were created for rather long period, having received the final shaping in IX-XI centuries. Subsequently in XIII century they were added by the small church constructions which were cut out in rocks (traces of more than 80 churches are found out). Many of these churches - chapels were independent architectural complexes, had the annexes, chapels, fonts. Under the ground the whole inhabited quarters, trading complexes, tombs found. If dwellings of poor men consisted of one or two rooms, so the rich cut out two-, and sometimes three-tier houses. Light penetrated into premises, through the apertures which were cut out in rocks. At excavation the constructions named Underground ni, consisting of long galleries and spacious halls have been found out. According to a legend by means of these underground constructions the capital was linked to Kars and other cities of medieval Armenia.
There were many cross stones in the city. They were established and on walls of churches, both on cemeteries, and in streets, on the areas, both at the gate, and on city walls, and behind city walls, both on rocks, and in cave premises. Patterns decorating them are diverse, the techniques of execution at times does not yield to jeweler's.
The city was surrounded with a double fortification. First of them was built in 963-968 and was referred to as a minor fortification or shotashen. On the wall the high statue of the lion was established.
Big or Smbatashen which separated the New city from the suburbs, was constructed in 981-989. It fences much more territory. Its length is 2, 5 km, and height of 8-10 meters. In the most dangerous (from the points of view of defense) a place had two lines. . The wall was not only a defensive construction, but also a decoration of the city. On them of diversely colored stones various ornaments were laid out in the shape of crosses of a chess board. On walls there were many reliefs. Among them the bas-relief of a running lion which was considered as military arms of ni is allocated. It is carved on an internal wall of the Main gate. On walls there were reliefs of the bull and dragons, and also the relief representing the person with a model of a construction. On the walls were many towers (basically, 2-3 floor) in which sentry groups were quartered. Basically they were laid out in black and red stones. In different parts of walls there were gates (about 10of them). The gates of the inner and outer rows were arranged not opposite each other which was conditioned by the defence purposes. The gates were arched and strict, without ornaments. On both sides of each gate three-tier towers were erected. Historians even compared the gate of ANI to the gate of ROME. A fosse filled with water was dug in front of the wall. During peace time, water available there, was used for irrigation and actuating of mills. Walls have reached up to now in badly destroyed condition.
As ni is separated by big and small gorges, many bridges were built which connected both quarters of the city and city with suburbs. Only across the river Akhuryan five big one-arch bridges were built, two of which were in city boundaries. Ruins of the bridge connecting the cathedral with the church of Manuchea by which the highway leads to the city are preserved in rather fair condition. The bridge constructed of stone consisted of 3 parts. The length of the central arch part was equal to 31, 5 meters. On both ends of the bridge there were watchtowers with doors coated with iron. It was presumably drawbridge.

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