On the border with Turkey and Armenian, a ruined ancient city holds some stunning landmark structures of which one 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 unrecognizable, 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. Infact, walking around the ruined city that spreads over a vast landmass, most of it was empty. Not many tourists venture in this direction and it seems that travel brochures are reluctant to promote it, since the area is devoid of beaches, and restaurants. The Tigran Honents Church is part of a forgotten city that the rest of the world knows nothing about.
This article is part of a series about the ancient Armenian kingdom of Ani.
- Visiting the church of the Redeemer
- Seeing inside the Cathedral of Ani
- About the ruined city of Ani that has now been added to the UNESCO World Heritage site