World Monuments Fund to Conserve Ani Cathedral


NEW YORK ( — Bonnie Burnham, president of the New Yorkbased World Monuments Fund (WMF), has announced that WMF and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism have embarked on a historic partnership to conserve the Ani Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Savior.

Once the site of hundreds of religious buildings, palaces, fortifications and other structures, Ani was, in the 10th century, one of the world’s great cities. Today, however, it stands abandoned, and its celebrated historic buildings are in a precarious state.

Support for these conservation projects has been provided by the US Department of State’s Ambassadors Fund, the Turkish General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums and World Monuments Fund.

Burnham added, “There has long been international concern about the fragile condition of the many extraordinary ruins at Ani, and the site has been listed on the World Monuments Watch on multiple occasions, beginning in 1996. In conserving these two important structures, WMF and Turkey’s General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums will develop methods that can be applied to the other buildings still standing in this seismic area. We hope that this work will usher in a new era in the life of this important site.”

Located in modern-day eastern Turkey, Ani Cathedral is one of the most significant architectural structures remaining from the prosperous Armenian Bagratid period in the 10th and 11th centuries AD. The cathedral is one of the most impressive of the collection of ruins. The cathedral was completed in 1001 by Queen Katramide, and is widely noted as a leading example of the origins of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture. The cathedral is often considered a source of inspiration for many of the key features of Gothic architecture, which became a dominant architectural style in Western Europe more than a century later. The cathedral is noted for its use of pointed arches and a cruciform plan, articulated by four interior columns composed of clustered piers. Despite its ruined state, Ani Cathedral is a masterpiece of Armenian medieval architecture.

The conservation state of Ani Cathedral became an object of international attention in 1996, when the archaeological zone of Ani was placed on WMF’s inaugural Watch list in 1996. Field missions to Ani were conducted in both 1996 and 1998, leading to documentation and analytic work in subsequent years.

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