Blog Post

Update on Work at the Church of the Holy Redeemer, Ani, Turkey

The Church of the Holy Redeemer, or Surp Amenap’rkitch, located in eastern Turkey within the Ani Archaeological Site, was built in 1035 on the orders of Prince Abulgharib Pahlavuni to house a piece of the True Cross. The church’s design is unique, with 19 external sides, an octagonal interior, and a huge central dome supported by a tall drum. The church remained largely intact until 1930, when it was struck by lightning and the entire eastern half collapsed.

The Phase 1 site works started this summer and focus on the installation of structural monitoring instruments and a protecting shoring and scaffolding system, as well as documentation of the structure’s fallen remains, sections of the walls, and dome. Fencing to secure the building site has been installed, as has a portable office with support facilities, including water supply.

Three levels of steel scaffolding are being erected within the interior of the structure to provide protection for the workers clearing the floor paving of the church and to support the weakened sections of the dome until repair work begins. Once in place, the scaffolding will provide access to the structure for further study of the whitewashed wall paintings and allow for repairs to be made to the cracked sections of the walls and dome.

Before the scaffolding could be installed, over 150 large pieces of fallen remains ranging in weight from 4 to 12 tons were hoisted away from the building’s foundation, relocated to a secure area adjacent to the church, and are now being catalogued. The fragments, many of which are inscribed and carved, will be laser-scanned and studied for possible reintegration into the two flanking sections of damaged walls. A fragile section of the damaged outer wall near the original entry was shored with a steel support column before the fragments were moved.

The documentation, conservation, consolidation, and strengthening of the Church of the Holy Savior will be completed in three phases over the next four years. This project is made possible in part with support from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and all work is carried out in partnership with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.