Cathedral of Ani

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Cathedral of Ani
Ani-Cathedral, Ruine.jpeg
Cathedral of Ani is located in Turkey
Cathedral of Ani
Shown within Turkey
Basic information
Location Ani
Geographic coordinates 40°30′22″N 43°34′23″E / 40.506206°N 43.572969°E / 40.506206; 43.572969Coordinates: 40°30′22″N 43°34′23″E / 40.506206°N 43.572969°E / 40.506206; 43.572969
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Ecclesiastical or organizational status cathedral
Status preserved
Architectural description
Architect(s) Trdat the Architect
Architectural type Domed Basilica
Architectural style Armenian
Groundbreaking 989
Completed 1001
This photo of two people inside the cathedral serves to demonstrate the size of the building
A far view of the Cathedral

The Cathedral of Ani (Armenian: Անիի Մայր Տաճար, Anii Mayr Tačar) was completed in 1001 by the architect Trdat in the ruined ancient Armenian capital of Ani,[1] located in what is now the extreme eastern tip of Turkey, on the border with modern Armenia. It offers an example of a domed cruciform church within a rectangular plan, though both the dome and the drum supporting it are now missing, having collapsed in an earthquake in 1319. A further earthquake in 1988 caused the collapse of the north-west corner, and weakened all the west side.[2]


The Cathedral of Ani is 100 feet (30 m) long and 65 feet (20 m) wide,[3] unusually large by Armenian standards, which is possible by supporting the dome on four piers of clustered columns, one of the features of the architecture that was to be very common in Western architecture. The roofs are stone vaulted throughout. Tall blind arcades decorate the external walls, including the ruined drum. There is carved relief decoration around several windows. There are three entrances, for the prince (south), the patriarch (north) and the people (west); each originally had a porch.[2] The eastern end presents on the exterior a flat wall with two tall triangular niches, but on the interior has a large central apse with two chambers on two storeys to the sides only accessible through narrow doorways on the ground floor, and stairways to the upper floor spaces. Though now light enters through the missing drum, the lower windows, including some round "porthole" ones, are few and small. Nikoli Marr, the first archaeologist to study the building, believed that it was considerably altered from its original design in the 13th century, but the evidence of the numerous inscriptions indicates this was not the case.[2]

Some European historians of architecture, beginning with Josef Strzygowski,[4] believe that the volume composition of the interior elements served to influence the development of European Gothic architecture in the 12th - 14th centuries.[5]


From 992 to 1058 what is now the Armenian Patriarchy or Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia (full name the Armenian Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia) was relocated to the Arkina district in the suburbs of Ani, where the cathedral stands. In 1001,[6] the leading architect Trdat completed the building of the Catholicosal palace and the Mother Cathedral of Ani. It was begun in 989 by order of King Smbat II and was completed "by order of my husband" under the patronage of the wife of King Gagik I, Queen Katranide. The cathedral was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and is one of the architectural masterpieces of Armenia.

Following the Seljuk Turkish victories in Western Armenia, Sultan Alp Arslan in 1064 took down the crosses from the cathedral after entering the city; in 1071 it was turned into a mosque.[7]

On September 19, 2010, the Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross at Lake Van saw its first Christian mass in 95 years. A group of Turkish nationalists responded on October 1, 2010, by gathering at the Cathedral of Ani to say Muslim prayers led by Devlet Bahçeli, head of the Nationalist Movement Party.[8][9]

Together with the nearby Church of the Redeemer, the cathedral is currently the focus of a conservation project led by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and the World Monuments Fund.



  1. ^ The Architect Trdat Building Practices and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Byzantium and Armenia by Christina Maranci, p. 294
  2. ^ a b c Virtual
  3. ^ History of Religious Architecture, Ernest H. Short, page 71
  4. ^ (German) Josef Strzygowski. Die Baukunst der Armenier und Europa. 2 vols. Vienna 1918.
  5. ^ Kouymjian, Dickran. "Index of Armenian Art: Armenian Architecture - Ani Cathedral". Armenian Studies Program. California State University, Fresno. 
  6. ^ Virtual, or 1010, depending on the reading of the dedication inscription on the eastern facade.
  7. ^ Fortescue, Adrian (2001). Lesser Eastern Churches. Gorgias Press. p. 387. ISBN 0-9715986-2-2. 
  8. ^ "Turkish nationalists rally in Armenian holy site at Ani". BBC News Online. 1 October 2010. 
  9. ^ WMF


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