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World Heritage Convention

Decision 40 COM 8B.28
Examination of nominations of cultural properties to the World Heritage List

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/16/40.COM/8B and WHC/16/40.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes the Archaeological Site of Ani, Turkey, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (ii), (iii) and (iv);
  3. Takes note of the provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    Ani is located in the northeast of Turkey, 42 km from the city of Kars, on a secluded triangular plateau overlooking a ravine that forms the natural border with Armenia. This medieval city that was once one of the cultural and commercial centres on the Silk Road, is characterized by architecture that combines a variety of domestic, religious and military structures, creating a panorama of medieval urbanism built up over the centuries by successive Christian and Muslim dynasties. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Ani flourished in the 10th and the 11th centuries AD, when it became a capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratids and profited from control of one branch of the Silk Road. Later, under Byzantine, Seljuk, and Georgian sovereignty, it maintained its status as an important crossroads for merchant caravans, controlling trade routes between Byzantium, Persia, Syria and Central Asia. The Mongol invasion, along with a devastating earthquake in 1319 and a change in trade routes, marked the beginning of the decline of the city. It was all but abandoned by the 18th century.

    The continuity of the settlement at Ani for almost 2500 years was thanks to its geographical location, on an easily defensible plateau that was surrounded by fertile river valleys, at an important gate of the Silk Roads into Anatolia, which made it an important town from the strategic point of view. This importance was determinative in its selection as a capital city of the Armenian Kingdom, to which Ani owes its high cultural development that found its best expression in the unique architecture of the “Ani school” through a socio-economic organization comparable only to the most developed examples of its contemporary Europe, in its capacity to attract the best artists and artisans of the region.

    The location of the city on the Silk Roads, as being one of the gateways to Anatolia, contributed to the rapid growth of the city as well as the transmission and amalgamation of different cultures. Architectural traditions that evolved in the Caucasus, Iran, Turkestan and Khurasan, were translated into stone, creating a unique medieval city.

    The religious monuments of Zoroastrian, Christian and Muslim influence, as well as public and domestic buildings, are witnesses to Ani’s multiculturalism. It was a multi-cultural centre, with all the richness and diversity of Medieval Armenian, Byzantine, Seljuk and Georgian urbanism, architecture, and art development.

    Criterion (ii): Ani was a meeting place for Armenian, Georgian and diverse Islamic cultural traditions that are reflected in the architectural design, material and decorative details of the monuments. The remains of this multi-cultural life in Ani are easily traced in the use of architectural techniques and styles belonging to different civilizations. New styles, which emerged as a result of cross-cultural interactions, have turned into a new architectural language peculiar to Ani – the “Ani school”. The creation of this new language expressed in the design, craftsmanship and decoration of Ani has also been influential in the wider region of Anatolia and Caucasia

    Criterion (iii): Ani was a centre for a multi-national and multi-religious population who left their artistic and architectural traces there. Ani bears exceptional testimony to Armenian cultural, artistic, architectural and urban design development and it is an extraordinary representation of Armenian religious architecture, reflecting its techniques, style and material characteristics. Ani is also a significant place for Turkish history. Grand Seljuk traditions met with structures in Ani for the first time and spread to Anatolia from there.

    Criterion (iv): With its military, religious and civil buildings, Ani offers a wide panorama of medieval architectural development thanks to the presence at the site of almost all the architectural types that emerged in the region in the course of the six centuries from 7th to 13th centuries AD. It is also considered a rare settlement where nearly all of the plan types developed in Armenian Church architecture between the 4th and 8th centuries AD can be seen together. The urban enclosure of Ani is also an important example of a medieval architectural ensemble with its monumentality, design and quality, as well as the tunnels and caves beneath Ani plateau, which connect to the surrounding volcanic tufa setting of deep river valleys.


    All the elements that constitute the basic values of Ani are located within the boundaries of the area. The city walls, religious and domestic buildings, as well as the rock-cut constructions along parts of the Arpaçay and Bostanlar Creeks, are all located within the boundaries of the 1st Degree Archaeological Conservation area.


    The property consists of impressively standing monumental buildings, in a partly hidden urban context, over an invisible landscape of underground tunnels and caves surrounded by deep river valleys that altogether convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property as a relic medieval city. Despite intact conservation of all these components to a great extent, without any modern development, Ani was affected from several wars and earthquakes in its history, which caused demolition and destruction in its architectural remains to a certain extent. Nevertheless, their remarkable state of preservation, without any historic or modern period change, in the face of these calamities has been considered as one of the unique values of the property.

    Protection and management requirements

    The archaeological site of Ani has been registered on the national inventory since 1988, as the 1st Degree Archaeological Conservation Site that is surrounded by the 3rd Degree Archaeological Conservation Site, with continual enlargements in site boundaries. These registrations put the property under the protection of Turkey’s National Law No. 2863 on Code of Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties that requires the approval of Kars Regional Council for the Protection of Cultural Assets for all plans and projects to be implemented in the registered sites.

    The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which is the main responsible government body for conservation and management of the site, is organized at both central and local levels. The General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums centrally regulates the activities of its local branches and fulfils certain tasks regarding monument restoration and World Heritage issues. Local branches, which are relevant in this case, are the Kars Regional Council for Conservation of Cultural Heritage, the Erzurum Directorate of Surveying and Monuments, and the Directorate of the Kars Museum.

    The protection measures taken in recent years by the State Party have greatly protected the most important monuments of the property. Conservation Oriented Development Plan for the two registered sites was approved in 2011 through, a process based on scientific principals and the inclusion of stakeholders at different levels.

    Strategic Conservation Master Plan, which is prepared by the Ministry with scientific support from academicians was approved by the Ministry on the 3rd of February, 2016. It lists the provisions of all legal conservation documents related to the site, includes an updated SWOT analysis as well as interrelated policies and principles, which are reviewed in reference to the management plan.

    The Management Plan for the property was approved on 30 March 2015. Priorities set for the period 2015-2020 in the two plans include emergency measures against seismic and environmental risks to ensure the intact survival of monumental buildings, context excavations and research to reveal their urban setting, improvement of visitor and research facilities at the site, enhancement of Ocaklı Village through better integration with the property, and educational programmes towards these ends.

  4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
    1. enhance research and documentation of the natural landscape, urban development, architectural structures and underground spaces in the Archaeological Site of Ani and its buffer zone in order to ensure their inclusion in conservation and site management strategies and plans,
    2. further present an accurate and balanced representation of the complex history and development of the property,
    3. further improve the Strategic Conservation Master Plan in order to present a more comprehensive needs assessment of each listed monument, as well as the required interventions and priority areas, as the basis for conservation and monitoring of the property,
    4. find alternative solutions for the current inappropriate use of pasture areas and of the rock-cut caves in Bostanlar Creek and Arpaçay Creek within the 1st Degree Archaeological Conservation area,
    5. improve the interpretation and presentation of the property,
    6. ensure the involvement of all relevant stakeholders in the management of the property, as well as international cooperation for conservation and restoration work,
    7. develop a monitoring plan for the seismic activity of the micro-zone of the property,
    8. integrate a Heritage Impact Assessment approach into the management system, so as to ensure that any project regarding the property be assessed in relation to its impacts on the attributes that convey the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2017, a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Decision Code
40 COM 8B.28
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
Report of the Decisions adopted during the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016)
Context of Decision