1,001 Churches, 3 Languages, 1 App: Exploring the Archaeological Site of Ani, Türkiye Like Never Before
Once dubbed “the city of 1,001 churches,” Ani—an Armenian metropolis in what is now eastern Türkiye—welcomed religious communities ranging from Muslims to Zoroastrians during its medieval heyday as a thriving Silk Road station. Today, visitors to archaeological site of Ani—inscribed UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2016 in recognition of its outstanding universal value—will be able to experience this rich and layered history in a new light thanks to a mobile app launched this year by Anadolu Kültür.
The app, produced in consultation with an international team of experts over the course of several years, provides deep context for the medieval Armenian architecture of Ani and highlights the conservation achievements at two of its most significant structures, Ani Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Redeemer. Suitable for casual visitors as well as experts, the app contains not only general historical information but also suggested walking routes, timelines, and quizzes to enrich the visitor experience. The app is available in Armenian, Turkish, and English—a nod to both the city’s multicultural and the role of the site in fostering mutual understanding in the present. It is recommended that users download the app prior to their visit due to potential connection issues in the remote area where the archaeological site is located.
“After two decades of continuous international efforts, WMF is glad that Ani Archaeological Site has transformed from a seat of geopolitical instability into a center of heritage tourism that promotes exchange and insight. This mobile app speaks to the shifting but shared cultures, memory, and accomplishments of Ani—which should be valued and passed on to future generations,” said Senior Program Manager Hunghsi Chao, who oversees WMF’s work at Ani.
WMF’s ties to Ani go back to 1996, when the archaeological zone of Ani was placed on the inaugural World Monuments Watch. Since then, WMF has supported documentation, condition assessments, and stabilization at the site, working alongside local partner Anadolu Kültür, the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, and Türkiye’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, with additional support from ALIPH. Following the devastating February 2023 earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, WMF’s proven track record of success at Ani meant that we were the first international heritage organization to receive permission to survey damaged heritage sites in areas where access was otherwise severely restricted. The expertise of our partners at Ani was also of great help in our on-the-ground work in the disaster zone.
World Monuments Fund safeguards cultural heritage around the globe, ensuring our treasured places are preserved for present and future generations.
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