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Restoring Ani Cathedral
Located in modern-day eastern Turkey, Ani Cathedral is one of the most significant architectural structures remaining from the prosperous Armenian Bagratid period in the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. Situated at the heart of the archaeological zone of Ani, the cathedral is one of the most impressive of the collection of ruins. The cathedral was completed in 1001 by Queen Katramide, and is widely noted as a leading example of the origins of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture. The cathedral is often considered a source of inspiration for many of the key features of Gothic architecture, which became a dominant architectural style in western Europe more than a century later. The cathedral is noted for its use of pointed arches and a cruciform plan, articulated by four interior columns composed of clustered piers. Despite its ruined state, Ani Cathedral is a masterpiece of Armenian medieval architecture.
HOW WE HELPED
The conservation state of Ani Cathedral became an object of international attention in 1996, when the archaeological zone of Ani was placed on WMF’s inaugural Watch list in 1996. Field missions to Ani were conducted in both 1996 and 1998, leading to documentation and analytic work in subsequent years. In 2009, renewed interest in undertaking considerable conservation work led to an agreement with the Turkish authorities to begin preliminary planning for fuller stabilization and protection of Ani Cathedral. WMF will work on the project with its local partner, Anadolu Kültür, over the next several years. The final phase of the program will involve promoting public awareness of the cathedral and improving conditions in the archaeological zone for visitors.
WHY IT MATTERS
As a premier example of Armenian medieval architecture and a central monument of the Ani archaeological zone, the cathedral is a seminal site for tracing the derivation of many Gothic architectural motifs. The conservation measures will highlight the site’s inherent aesthetic value, while enhancing the public’s understanding of its historical and cultural significance. WMF’s future conservation work will emphasize the presentation of the monument within its cultural landscape, enabling the site to function as an accessible tourist destination.
World Monuments Fund and the U.S. State Department
Overseen by the U.S. Department of State, The Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation supports the conservation of cultural sites in more than 120 developing countries around the world. By taking a leading role in preserving cultural legacies, the program illustrates America’s deep and enduring respect for the diversity embodied in our shared global heritage.World Monuments Fund has been fortunate to work closely with the State Department on several recent projects, highlighted in this brief video.
Conservation at Ani Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Savior
Ani, a dramatic, windswept archaeological site in eastern Turkey, was once a thriving medieval city on the trade route through Central Asia. At its height, Ani had a population of well over 100,000, and was the rival of Constantinople, Baghdad, and Cairo. Once renowned for its splendor and magnificence, Ani has been abandoned and largely forgotten for centuries.
Its remaining architecture, built primarily in the tenth century, is historically significant as it anticipates features that became the defining characteristics of the Byzantine and later Gothic styles. World Monuments Fund’s current scope of work is focusing on the ruins of two great religious structures there: Ani Cathedral and The Church of the Holy Savior.