The Basilica of Ererouk is one of the oldest and most beautiful monuments in Armenia. Believed to have been begun in the late-fourth century, the basilica was part of an architectural complex consisting of monastic buildings and village houses a few kilometers southeast of the ruined and deserted medieval city of Ani. Remnants of wall paintings remain, and writing on the façade and apse is an historical record of alterations and renovations, suggesting reconstruction work from the sixth century through the early thirteenth century. The church roof collapsed during the seventeenth century, and the building had been damaged by various earthquakes, including one in 1988.
Ensuring against future deterioration
In 1995, World Monuments Fund assessed the basilica’s condition and outlined potential repair work. The conservation strategy recognized limitations in reconstructing the building, given the dearth of historical information about the site. WMF developed a plan to preserve the building as a stabilized ruin, which allows the history of the site to be revealed and evokes the passage of time. Preliminary work entailed inspection of the masonry, documentation of wall cracks, and the creation of a master plan for interpreting the site. WMF generated a comprehensive analysis of the basilica grounds, and laid the groundwork for concrete interventions. Later, WMF installed shoring at the foundations to stabilize the existing structure and ensure improved response to future seismic activity.
Ererouk remains at risk. The site’s relative isolation and limited local investment in the upkeep and conservation of the building contributed to some of the destabilization of the basilica. WMF’s interventions have helped both reduce immediate threats and brought much-needed attention to the church. Further, WMF’s site analysis and conservation plan will provide a comprehensive guideline for future work.