The Cathedral of Ani aka the Fethiye Mosque

Many historians consider the Holy Virgin Cathedral of Ani to be the biggest and most impressive historic building in the region.Built in 1001AD and converted into a mosque in 1071, it has seen much controversy in recent years despite its dormant state.

Cathedral of AniControversy number one was the decision by the famous fashion magazine Elle to base a photo shot in the cathedral. Public opinion was split in two as fashion lovers declared they loved the article while some Armenians said it was disrespectful towards their heritage.

Cathedral Ani

Controversy number two was the Turkish political party held Friday prayers at the mosque. Religious leaders in Armenia said it was a political stunt and even though the building was a mosque, its origins started as a church. Whatever controversies loom over the public ideas of the cathedral, it is hard not to be impressed at the pure size of this structure.

Fethiye Mosque

The exterior does not wow but the Gothic appearance inside the building does.

Cathedral of Ani aka Fethiye MosqueInside the Cathedral of Ani aka the Fethiye mosque

Owing the impressive décor to the architect called Trdat, I then discovered that he was the same architect who once completed a redesign in 1064 of the Hagia Sophia church in Istanbul. Large columns hold up the celling, which did consist of a dome until an earthquake in 1319 bought it tumbling down.

The Cathedral of Ani aka the Fethiye camiThe church / mosque was constructed from various types of stones and there is also in-depth discussions by historians over suspected work done on the décor in the late 13th/ 14th centry.

Fethiye Mosque AniWhile history experts may not agree whether that renovation work took place, they all agree that the cathedral of Ani (Fethiye Cami) is one of the masterpieces of ancient Armenian architecture.

Further reading – 3D model of the cathedral of Ani

Ani Cathedral

This article is part of a series on the ruins of Ani. This is the third article. You can read the others here

Overall look at Ani

The Church of Tigran Honents

The church of the Redeemer

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    Looks just amazing there, Natalie. Great photos. Sad that religious buildings are caught up in controversy like this. Like the Aya Sofya, maybe it would be an idea to have it officially declared a museum so that all religions can appreciate this as the beautiful religious building that it is.

    • YellowFlower says

      Hi,actually the Aya Sophia has been declared a museum since 1935!

    • says

      Exactly Julia – I chose just to appreciate it for its beauty rather than concentrate on its role as a church or mosque.

      @yellow flower – Yes, that is what Julia said “like the Aya sofya”
      Natalie wrote about..The Tigran Honents Church of Ani

  2. says

    . . when J and I were there there was a large group of Armenians on the cliff just over the border. They were there to pray and were getting as close as they could to this church which is so important to them. Got to thinking that a footbridge across to allow pilgrims access would go a long way towards re-building bridges between people.
    Alan wrote about..Annie Get Your Won!

  3. says

    A fashion shoot in a mosque – or church… seems very blasphemous, disrespectful even.That said, this looks like a very interesting part of Turkey.
    Sophie wrote about..Berlin, I love you still

  4. says

    Gorgeous photos! I am finding that the more and more I travel Europe, the more drawn I am to places like this as opposed to the must-see European cities everyone heads for. You’ve given me yet another place to add to my list, Natalie!

    • Nat says

      Glad the place appealed to you Jennifer. The more people that see it and talk about it the better.

  5. says

    Looks like an interesting place to visit. The first photo makes it look so much smaller, like it’s this tiny building plopped down in the middle of nowhere, which makes its size even more impressive.
    Ali wrote about..Are You Afraid to Travel Alone?

  6. says

    I think I’m impressed by the landscape, too. That first photo is impressive. Nice.

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