Site and Significance
A Masterpiece of Armenian Medieval Architecture
Located at the heart of the archaeological zone of Ani in modern-day eastern Türkiye, Ani Cathedral is one of the most significant architectural structures remaining from the prosperous Armenian Bagratid period in the tenth and eleventh centuries CE. Completed in 1001 by Queen Katramide, Ani Cathedral is considered a leading example of the origins of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture and a source of inspiration for many of the key features of Gothic architecture.
A Place on the Inaugural Watch
The need to conserve Ani Cathedral became a focus of international attention in 1996 when the archaeological zone of Ani was placed on the inaugural World Monuments Watch. Field missions to Ani were conducted in both 1996 and 1998, leading to documentation and analytic work in subsequent years. The site was included on the Watch again in 1998, 2000, and 2002.
In 2009, renewed interest in conservation work at the site led to an agreement with Turkish authorities to begin preliminary planning for fuller stabilization and protection of Ani Cathedral. World Monuments Fund (WMF) worked on the project with Anadolu Kültür, its local partner, over the next several years, completing a survey of the site and an emergency temporary intervention plan in 2019. In addition, after two decades of continuous efforts, the Archaeological Site of Ani was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
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; in particular, the structure is noted for its cruciform plan, articulated by four interior columns composed of clustered piers, and its use of pointed arches. WMF’s conservation work will highlight the site’s inherent aesthetic value and emphasize the presentation of the monument within its cultural landscape, enhancing the public’s understanding of its historical and cultural significance and enabling the site to function as an accessible tourist destination.
With the support of the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH), WMF began the second phase of its project at Ani Cathedral in 2021, focusing on the implementation of a long-term intervention plan for the restoration of the marvelous cathedral.
An Innovative Multilingual App
In 2023, a new mobile app that highlights the diverse history and architecture of Ani was launched. Available in Armenian, English, and Turkish, the app will allow researchers and casual visitors alike to engage with the site more deeply.
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World Monuments Fund’s work at Ani Cathedral is made possible, in part, by support from The J.M. Kaplan Fund, ALIPH (International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas), and Tianaderrah Foundation / Nellie and Robert Gipson.