Kars- Ruins of Ani
The ancient citadel of Ani is situated on the barren plains above the Arpaçay Valley which separates Turkey and Armenia. The site is surrounded by an imposing fortified city wall, currently undergoing intensive restoration. This one time prominent city used to house over 100.000 citizens in it's hey-day. Once an important station on the ancient Silk Road, serving as a trading post and caravanseray for merchants travelling with heavily laden camels between east and west, it is now a ruined ghost town. Ani quickly fell to the Mongols in the 13th century who left the city ransacked in turbulent disarray, then Tamerlane rampaged through and mercilessly destroyed what was left. When the trade routes moved further south, the once bustling metropolis lost its revenue from trade and soon the entire province died. It was again destroyed by earthquakes in the 14th century. What remains now are several Armenian built churches, a ruined Seljuk palace, a couple of mosques and caravanserays and a cathedral. The colorful frescoes and paintings in the churches are still in fine condition although time has left its mark as well.Stepping back into the turbulent history of unspoiled Eastern Turkey is a refreshing change from the well-worn tourist track. Exploring in the remotest corners of this timeless land, a quest not for the faint-hearted, priceless treasures can be enjoyed at leisure and unforgettable memories retained for a life-time. A truly voracious adventurer can create his own footprints through the ages.