The City Plan of Ani – An Entire City on a Wall

The City Plan of Ani – An Entire City on a WallIn the center of Yerevan, on the wall of one of the apartments, a city lives, or rather, its small copy. The city itself had lived its rich and turbulent life for a long time, and now, only ruins remain from it. It was the ancient capital of Armenia Ani, which was called “the city of 1001 churches”, “the city of arts and crafts”, and “the most luxurious and the most beautiful.”

Artist Ruben Ghevondyan reproduced this city on canvas in all its finest detail. He painted its exact layout with streets, districts, buildings, churches, city walls. Everything was exactly as it used to be in those distant times.

When working, Ghevondyan used the map of Ani that had been created 100 years prior thanks to the Orbeli expedition. This map helped the artist recreate the city in its peak shape. The artist knew everything about this city: it seems that he was aware of its every corner. He worked on his creation very carefully and for a long time.

It took Ghevondyan six years of hard, painstaking work to make the city appear on the large wall-sized canvas.

The artist portrayed Ani in detail to such an extent that it seems he used to live there for many years, and that’s why he remembered its every bend, every backstreet, every cave.

The residents of the city aren’t on the streets: they are all gathered at the bottom of the painting to celebrate the holiday Navasard (ancient Armenian New Year). Here is the king with his entourage and his people, all happy and joyful. The painting introduces us not only to the city but also to its inhabitants.

From the city widely considered luxurious and flourishing, only several ruins are standing today. And tomorrow, the city may disappear completely. This is why this work is so valuable. Maybe, after many years, thanks to Ghevondyan’s painting, it will be possible to restore something. After all, the city of Ani had been in fact unique.

Krutakova Anna




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Comments 2

  • […] Armenian capital Ani. The illustrations are from a 19th-century French book titled “The Ruins of Ani — the Armenian Capital of the Royal Bagratid Dynasty of the 10th and 11th Centuries: History and […]

  • As an artwork, as a piece of Ani memorabilia, and as an object depicting the continuing importance of Ani to contemporary Armenia, it is interesting. However, as a factual depiction of Ani it fails in multiple ways. Bridges are depicted that never existed (there was only one bridge over the Akhurian), defensive walls are depicted that never existed (such as the outer of the double wall on the valley leading down to the Akhurian), the secular structures in the city are far too few in number (they were very densely packed), the street plan is invented and has overly broad streets, the landscape on which the city was built is overly simplified, the citadel hill is not high enough, and where are the city’s two minarets. The placing of a khachkar above the arch of the Horomos Arch is interesting though, and parallels my own thoughts about this monument’s function.

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