The church of the Redeemer ( Kurtarici kilisesi ) was one of the first churches that I came across when walking around Ani, an ancient Armenian kingdom that has now been added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The crumbling church stands near the foundations of an old house. The most prominent feature of the church is its destruction, which happened during a storm in 1957 and an earthquake in 1988. Today the structure is at strong risk of collapsing altogether.
The future of the Church of the Redeemer
Architects and historians have been warning everyone since the late 19th century that the building was in danger. In 1912, a small amount of restoration took place and then again in 1999. That was not enough. If things continue like they are doing, in the next fifty years, a pile of rubble will stand in its place. This is likewise for most of the churches at Ani.
Why should anyone care about the destruction of this church? Well, the church was built in 1035. It is over 900 years old. Isn’t something like this worth preserving? With every day that passes by, we can assume that future generations will be reduced to looking at photos of the church. They will not be able to see it with their own eyes. They will not be able to admire the brilliant and ancient architecture that formed that unique 19 sided dome.
The True Cross
It is stated in history books that the church was built by a prince to hold fragments from the true cross, which was believed to have been the cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on.
Some experts mock that there is now enough true crosses in the world to build a ship and they doubt many claims. It is unknown what happened to the true cross that lay in this church but for me it is irrelevant and frankly, I do not care. I have a passion for history but my concern about the church of the redeemer at Ani, is it’s future.
That is, if it has one.
This is the last in a series of articles about the churches and ruins of Ani. You can read the other articles here