Skip to Content

Gawking at the Ruins of the Silk Road City of Ani

Far off the beaten path, the Armenian ruins of Ani are well worth the trip.

Disclaimer: Some of our articles may contain affiliate links; when you click on these links you’ll have the option to purchase or register for a service at no extra cost to you, but doing so helps us run this blog. That’s awesome!

Turkey Get Started Planning Guide

The following are our top recommendations for Turkey:

We’ve found the best accommodations in Turkey can be found on the Booking.com website.

The Best Sightseeing Tours in Turkey are:
*Best of Istanbul Day Tour ($64)
*Hot Air Balloon Flight over the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia ($115)

The Most Important Items to Pack for Turkey:
*Worldwide Travel Adapter and portable battery charger
*Scarf for wearing in mosques
*Fodor’s Essential Turkey Travel Guidebook

Ani Ruins Turkey

The ruins of the ancient Silk Road city of Ani are located in the far east of Turkey, right on the Armenian border.  In fact, you can see the Armenian guards peering over the river gorge from their guard shacks.

Ani Ruins Turkey

Before the Mongols came through eastern Turkey and leveled it, Ani was an extremely prosperous town of over 100,000 people.  Today, you can see how large the city was, as the ruins are scattered over quite a large area.

Ani Ruins Turkey

After driving about an hour out of Kars, known for its cheese and honey, it definitely seems that you are out in the middle of nowhere.  There are only a few villages, and the site has a small parking lot.

untitled (208 of 235)-7

First you walk through the Lion gate to find a large expanse.  There is not much near the wall, but the view is pretty amazing and the wall is also quite long.

Walking down the hill, you eventually come to what remains of the Church of the Redeemer.  Half of the dome still stands tall and leaves a distinct impression on the visitor.

Ani Ruins Turkey

There are a number of churches, cathedrals, and even a convent left over.  Inside these there are still vibrant frescoes.  The least damaged building is the citadel, and even it has a gaping hole right in the middle of the ceiling.

Hiking through tall grass you can see remnants of all sorts of buildings.  There is an olive press, churches, roads, and many fallen columns and walls.

untitled (214 of 235)-8

Being an old Armenian capital and prosperous for over 500 years, the ruins have been through some controversy.  For many years, the Turkish government required archaeologists and visitors to obtain special permission to visit, but today these regulations have been relaxed and we had no problem visiting the site.

Have you been to Turkey?  Are you willing to get off the beaten path and head East?  If you’ve been to Ani, please leave your impressions in our comment section.

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Josh

Wednesday 6th of February 2019

such an amazing looking place, I'm hoping to get there in a month or two!

Jim Vail

Wednesday 6th of February 2019

It is beautiful in the spring, enjoy!

Bram

Wednesday 12th of March 2014

The Silk Route is one of those places/regions I am dying to go to. I want to see Samarkand sooo badly! Great post, definitely inspiring and encouraging to go there too!

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 12th of March 2014

Bram, too right! I really want to do more of it...past Turkey, especially Samarkand! Someday!

Natalie

Tuesday 29th of October 2013

I wish they would receive more funding so they can do more excavations. Imagine what is still hidden!!

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 29th of October 2013

Exactly Natalie. Have you been to Ani? It is well worth the trip! Thanks, Corinne

Muza-chan

Monday 21st of October 2013

Great photos :)

Corinne Vail

Monday 21st of October 2013

Thanks Muza-chan! I love your Japan photos as well!

Lani

Wednesday 16th of October 2013

I agree w/ Lisa. Wonderful pics. Love the feeling, you can feel the warmth. And you're soooo lucky. I wish I could be there.

Corinne Vail

Friday 18th of October 2013

Yes Lani, but living in Thailand also sounds wonderful to me. If only I could order up one of those Thai foot massages...hmmm. Thanks for your comment.