Add Date : 17.08.2011 11:17
The ruins of Ani, the ancient Silk Road city once called the ‘City of the Rich,’ are expected to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Turkey’s Culture Ministry has carried out a number of restoration projects to revive the old city in Kars and fulfill the conditions required for inclusion on the UNESCO list
The Ani Ruins are the largest ruins in Turkey, spreading out over an area of 15,747 square meters.
The spectacular ruins of Ani, the capital of an ancient Armenian kingdom and important city on the Silk Road, could soon be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, according to local authorities.
“There has been a 27 percent increase in the number of tourists visiting Ani these days,” Kars Culture and Tourism Director Hakan Doğanay told Anatolia news agency. “The work carried out by the Culture Ministry to include Ani in the UNESCO World Heritage List is very significant.”
Noting that although the ministry has put forward Ani as a candidate, Doğanay said the site, located on the Turkish-Armenian border in the eastern province of Kars, had not yet been included on the list.
“If Ani is included, it will appear in all of the World Tourism Organization’s promotional films. This will have a very positive effect on Kars’ tourism,” he said. “There are certain conditions that must be met to get a place onto this list. It should be on the tourist route and have accommodations and facilities as well as roads.”
The ancient city possesses the largest ruins in Turkey, which are spread out over an area of 15,747 square meters, Doğanay said, adding that it took five hours to visit all of 21 historical buildings that have survived to the present day.
Metropolis of yesteryear
“Ani was a world city,” Doğanay said. “The most important feature of Ani is that it was the city of religions. It is possible to see three religions together in the city. This is why it is also called the ‘City of 1001 Churches,’ as well as the ‘City of the Rich.’”
The city used to be a center of trade that had the same population as Istanbul during the Silk Road’s liveliest years. “Ani is the last point on the route between Anatolia and the Caucasus. It lost its popularity after being damaged by an earthquake in Armenia. When the Silk Road began to lose its importance, Ani lost its importance, too,” Doğanay said.
The ministry has conducted a number of restoration projects to revive the ancient city. “Among them, the most important one is the first Turkish mosque in Anatolia, Menucehr, which was built in 1072. Also, the Tigran Honents Church, which is situated in Ani and is a significant place of worship for Christians, has been restored and opened to tourism. Some of the 4.5-kilometer-long walls in Ani have also been restored,” said Doğanay.
The most delayed, yet also most special work in Ani was to create a map of the city, he said. “The map of an ancient site is being made for the first time in Turkey. This means that work will be carried out systematically according to this map from now on.”
Doğanay said the restoration of the ancient city’s Polatoğlu Church had been put out to tender so that the church would attract tourists.
As part of the efforts to revive Ani, Doğanay said he represented Kars in meetings in which 24 countries participated, and that during the Berlin Fair, they promoted Ani as a door to the Silk Road opening to the Caucasus.
After promoting Ani at various fairs, Doğanay said nearly 23,000 people visited Ani within six months; France, Japan and Britain sent the most number of tourists to the ancient city.
KARS - Anatolia News Agency