Cathedral of Ani to be restored in Turkey’s Kars
The Cathedral of Ani is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Ani by the Seljuk Sultan Alparslan in 1604. Restorations will begin this month for the cathedral, which is among 23 artifacts that have survived in the ancient ruins.
Ani, which has been dubbed as the “World City,” “City of 1,001 Churches,” “Cradle of Civilizations,” and “City of 40 Gates,” is one of the earliest settlements, dating back to 3,000 B.C.
Throughout history, the Saka Turks, Sasanian empire, Bagratid dynasty, Byzantine empire, Seljuk empire, Ottoman empire and Russian empire have reigned on the ancient site. The cathedral carries a separate meaning because it was the first conquest (“fetih”) in Anatolia, after which the first Friday prayers were performed in Anatolia when it became the Fethiye Mosque.
Bagratid King Smbat II laid the foundations for the cathedral in 990 A.D. and after his death, its construction was completed in 1001 A.D. by Queen Katranide, the wife of King Gagik I, Smbat’s brother and successor. It was later converted into a mosque by the Seljuk Sultan Alparslan.
The architect of the cathedral was Trdat, who also worked on the restoration of the Hagia Sophia after it had collapsed in an earthquake in the same century. The cathedral has drawn attention, illuminated with a high and narrow window and with its three gates decorated with statue niches.
Built with red tuff stone, the cathedral’s dome is built on a foundation with steps leading up to it. Its bell tower and partially collapsed wall in the northern side has attracted the interest of local and foreign tourists.
To be restored and reinforced
Along with the cathedral’s restoration, technical work will also take place to reinforce the structure.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Kars Museum director Necmettin Alp said the landscaping and restoration works continue on the Ani ruins within the scope of the Reconstruction Plan for Protection.
“A meeting was held in March based on a protocol signed between the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums and the World Monuments Fund for the restoration of this huge architectural structure and after the technical process, the company that won the tender started on the [restoration] work,” said Alp.
The museum director said important work would be carried out to protect this historical structure.
“The restoration work has started quickly and continues on the ruins of its foundation, which have been unearthed during excavations around the historical structure. There will be serious progress on the restorations during the summer. An important step has been taken to protect this meaningful structure,” said Alp.