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.
Controversy 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.
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.
The exterior does not wow but the Gothic appearance inside the building does.
Inside 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 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.
While 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
This article is part of a series on the ruins of Ani. This is the third article. You can read the others here