A Masterpiece of Armenian Medieval Architecture
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.
1996, 1998, 2000 and 2002 World Monuments Watch
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 World Monuments Watch 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 worked on the project with its local partner, Anadolu Kültür, over the next several years, completing a survey of the site as well as an emergency temporary intervention to preserve it in 2019.
A Long-Term Intervention Plan
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.
With the support of the ALIPH Foundation, in 2021 WMF began the second phase of its project at Ani Cathedral, focusing on the implementation of a long-term intervention plan for the restoration of the entire cathedral.
Last updated: March 2021.