On a desolate hilltop in eastern Europe, a beautiful church stands dramatically sliced in half. Once part of a great metropolis, its elegant columns and huge domed roof are precariously exposed to the elements, slowly fading to dust. Welcome to Ani, the abandoned city that no one has called home in hundreds of years.
Ani’s long and fascinating history stretches back as far as the fifth century. Back then, the city was a powerful hilltop fortress. And while it’s now located in eastern Turkey’s Kars province, Ani used to be controlled by Armenia’s Kamsarakan dynasty.
At the beginning of the ninth century, the Kamsarakan and Bagratuni dynasties merged. As a result, the Bagratuni leader acquired the title Prince of Armenia. Then, in 961, the Bagratuni royal family moved the seat of their empire from Kars to Ani, causing the city to boom.