The Ancient Ghost City of Ani

Situated on the eastern border of Turkey, across the Akhurian River from Armenia, lies the empty, crumbling site of the once-great metropolis of Ani, known as "the city of a thousand and one churches." Founded more than 1,600 years ago, Ani was situated on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times -- Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s. Rediscovered and romanticized in the 19th century, the city had a brief moment of fame, only to be closed off by World War I and the later events of the Armenian Genocide that left the region an empty, militarized no-man's land. The ruins crumbled at the hands of many: looters, vandals, Turks who tried to eliminate Armenian history from the area, clumsy archaeological digs, well-intentioned people who made poor attempts at restoration, and Mother Nature herself. Restrictions on travel to Ani have eased in the past decade, allowing the following photos to be taken.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Noah Berger / AP

    Flying Around the World in a Solar Powered Plane

    Pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg successfully landed the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, after flying around the world using only the power of the Sun.

  • David McNew / Getty

    The Terrible Beauty of Californian Wildfires, as Seen by David McNew

    Getty photographer David McNew has been covering Californian wildfires for more than a decade, and has an eye for finding the visual beauty amid the horrible destruction.

  • Aris Messinis / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week 7/16 - 7/22

    Unrest in Turkey, a Santa Claus competition in Denmark, virtual reality in Israel, kite running in Rio, and much more.

  • Bernadett Szabo / Reuters

    Bathing in Budapest

    Hot springs at this Hungarian location have been in use since the 12th century

Join the Discussion