This article is part of a series on the ruins of Ani, which are in the north-east region of Turkey, on the border with Armenia. You can read the first article here.
Tigran Honents Church
On the edge of the ruins of Ani is the Tigran Honents church. Dating from 1215, it took its name from the wealthy Armenian merchant that ordered and paid for its construction.
Upon first sight, its small size dumbed down the intricate architecture but on closer inspection, the extreme detail on the outside of the church won my admiration.
Ornate animal carvings were placed on each exterior wall and historians suggested they were added later, when Ani fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Rather than ruin the aesthetic look, the additions of the carvings completed the overall appearance.
Inscriptions had also been carefully carved into the stone on the eastern wall. The language was unrecognisable, making me think of the church as a long lost sacred place of an ancient tribe.
At the time of construction, the area was under Georgian rule and this explains the extensive interior frescoes, which were not typical of Armenian architecture.
All the frescoes detail the life of Jesus and Saint Grigor. The most disappointing aspect is that some of the frescoes have been ruined with tacky tourist graffiti.
Even though, it is called the Tigran Honents church, other names include the Church of St Gregory the illuminator and the Church of Sirli. Irrelevant of the name, it was hard not to be impressed when I stood in the middle of the building that is nearly 800 years old.
As I exited the church, I spotted Armenian watch towers in the far distance. They seemed to be empty. It was as if Armenia had turned its back on the city.
A lot of blame has been placed on Turkey for the lack of care and reconstruction that placed Ani on the WMF endangered list however these are Armenian ruins so shouldn’t that government be taking an interest in their own heritage?
From research on the internet, I cannot find any documentation by the Armenian government proving an interest in Ani. If this is correct, it is a very sad fact indeed.