The Beautiful Ruins of an Ancient Armenian Ghost Town

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
March 19 2014 11:05 AM

Ani, the Ancient Armenian Ghost Town

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world's hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook, Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter @atlasobscura.

On the Turkish-Armenian border, scattered in the plains among the wildflowers, are the crumbling remains of a once mighty city. In the 11th century, Ani was home to over 100,000 people. Situated on a number of trade routes, the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Armenia, an independent state established in 884.

Ani was attacked by the Byzantines during the empire's 1045 takeover of the Armenian Kingdom. Two decades later, Seljug Turkish invaders captured the city, murdered and enslaved its inhabitants, and sold the whole place to a Kurdish dynasty known as the Shaddadids.

Advertisement

The attacks continued in the 13th century, when the Mongols made two attempts — one thwarted, one successful — to capture the city. An earthquake in 1319 caused significant damage to Ani's many 11th-century churches. The city stumbled onward, but was much smaller by the mid-17th century and completely abandoned by 1750.

Today Ani is a grand but ruined ghost town. Tensions between Turkey and Armenia have contributed to its neglect — it is an Armenian city but lies within Turkish borders, making conservation and restoration difficult. To visitors, Turkey omits all mentions of Armenia from descriptions of Ani's history and focuses on the city's Turkish and Muslim influences.

More ghost towns around the world:


View Ani Citadel in a larger map

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.