KARS - Anadolu Agency
The ancient city of Ani, located on the Turkish-Armenian border and called the “cradle of civilizations” as it has been home to many ancient civilizations, has doubled its number of visitors after its registry in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Close to the Arpaçay district in the eastern province of Kars, Ani was the capital of the Armenian emperors between 961 and 1045 A.D. at the time of the Pakradouni Dynasty. Home to the 11th and 12th century structures of Islamic architecture, Ani entered the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list in 2012 and the permanent list on July 15, 2016.
The first settlement in Ani dates back to the 3000s B.C. and became home to many civilizations such as the Saka Turks, Sasanians, Bagratuni Dynasty, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ottomans and Russians.
The Amenaprgiç Church, Ani Cathedral, Dikran Honentz Church and Abugamir Pahlavuni Church are among the historical structures in the ancient settlement.
As the first entrance from the Caucasus to Anatolia, Ani hosted 21,780 visitors in 2015, one year before its registry by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. This figure increased to 42,635 after its registry.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Kars Museum Director Necmettin Alp said that interest had increased in the ancient city after it became a World Heritage Site.
“The Culture and Tourism Ministry has applied to UNESCO for Ani. It was on the additional list in 2014 and evaluations were made in 2015 and 2016. Teams from UNESCO came to Ani; deficiencies were met. On July 15, 2016, during the Istanbul meeting of UNESCO, Ani was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as Turkey’s 16th cultural heritage,” he said.
Increase of over 40-45 percent
Work has been carried out in Ani under the inspection of the Kars museum’s directorate, said Alp, adding that the Culture Ministry’s interest in the ancient city has also increased and construction has started for an excavation house and reception center.
“Ani is on the UNESCO list with other cultural heritage sites like Ephesus, Ihlara Valley and Hagia Sophia. The number of visitors increased by 40-45 percent after 2016 and we believe it will continue to increase,” he said.
With further work, tourists will be able to easily visit the inns.
“Ani is very important for Kars and the region. Along with the Ishak Paşa Palace in the region, it is open to visitors. Excavations and restorations still continue. The walking routes will be finished in one or two months,” said Alp.Basilisk on display at museum
Meanwhile, a relief with a basilisk motif, unearthed during excavations at Ani and dating back 1,000 years, has started to be displayed at the Kars Museum.
Alp spoke about the meaning of the basilisk legend.
“It is about a snake, which brings bad luck to all who touch it. At the same time, the basilisk is known as an animal that brings peace and abundancy to its place as long as it is untouched. The basilisk came to the museum last year and is now on display. It is a magnificent artifact featuring the triplet of a lion, woman and snake,” he said.