Ani view point

Ani is perched on the Akhurian river, across from the 9th-13th cc Armenian capital Ani. Much of it gone, still the city of 100,000 has ruins of churches, palace and walls enough to impress.




A stronghold of the Kamsarakan family from the 4th century, one of the first kings in the Bagratid line, King Ashot (the Meat-eater), bought Ani for Armenia in the first half of the ninth century. Strategically placed on one of the trade routes running from Persia (India/China) to the Black Sea, the city became vital in the 10th century when wars between the Arabs and the Byzantine Empire made the trade route along the Euphrates unsafe for caravans. Massively and suddenly rich, the Bagratunis were able to turn a simple fortress into a royal residence and a small village into the capital of a kingdom. 

The Bagratunis enlarged their city to an area of about 4,000 acres, built a series of outer walls and spanned the Arpa-Chai River with bridges to help the caravans plodding between Trebizond and the East. The caravanserai at Jrapi is one such building, housing caravans on the outer rims of the city where they could not engage in intrigue or debase its inhabitants (deflower the farmer’s daughters, so to speak). When Gagik I, who reigned from 990 to 1020, completed the Great Cathedral and established the seat of the Katolikos in Ani in 992, Armenia reached its zenith.

The chronicler Aristakes of Lastivert, who lived through and recorded the glories and fall of the Bagratuni kingdom, described the kingdom before the invasion of the Seljuks. In his own poetic, Oriental manner, he wrote that Ani was like a large garden; verdant, clothed in foliage, laden with flowers and fruit.

"Its nobles in their gorgeous costumes and glittering array of armor and equipment, held sway in their baronial seats; the people danced and sang merry songs, the sounds of the flute, cymbals and other instruments gladdened the air. Old people in their crowns of white hair,


the mothers pressing their children in their arms, the newly-wedded couple emerging from the church, all radiated happiness. . . . As for the King, when he rode out of the city in the morning in his resplendent attire and pearl-laden crown, astride his white mare with her trappings of gold glittering under the rays of the sun, dazzling every eye, he was like a bridegroom or like the day-star, which rising above the world, attracts all eyes to itself, compels everybody to gaze upon it with wonder; while the numerous troops who marched before him in compact masses, rippling over the hills, resembled the waves of the sea, rolling over one another on the beach."


The glory days ended, with dual invasions by the Caliphate and the Albanians (Azerbaijanis) on one side and pressure from Byzantium to succumb to its control, while Bagratuni princes fought amongst themselves for possession of the land. 

First taken by the Byzantines in 1044, Ani was then invaded by Seljuks in 1064. The city lost its power and the capital moved to Dvin. There was a short rebirth in the 13th century, under the Pahlavunis, before a complete destruction of the city during the invasions of the Mongols and Timur.

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    How to reach Take the M1 highway towards Giumri and 11 km north of Maralik, where a road turns left to Gusanagiugh. Follow the directional signs past Gusanagiugh to the H17, then south to Haikadzor to the view point. From Yerevan is 100km and about 1 hour 15 minutes.

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