New Dıscoverıes ın anı

Vedat Akçayöz



Ani is full of secrets; and the more these are re- solved the more mysterious it becomes – so very reserved and secretive Ani is. For as long as I’ve known myself the magic of history and of the unknown has enchanted me into following in its trail. This is also what has fed my unending curiosity and impulse to research and discover, which has fueled me for twenty years and has given life to this book you hold. 

The structures that still remain standing in the archaeological site have been what have mainly stood out in Ani, which is a place that has attracted the attention of researchers and explorers since the past century, and the region has hence achieved fame under the name “City of 1001 Churches”. Having been shaped by the existence of multiple cultures through- out history, in Ani nature has also adorned its full abundance as if competing with the achievements of humanity and even spiting them. The generosity of the volcanic landscape has on the one hand allowed for people to carve out cave dwellings, construct liv- ing spaces, churches, monasteries, pigeon lofts, tun- nels within the soft layer of tuff in the slopes of deep valleys carved out by rivers such as the Arpaçay (Ar- pachai) / Ախուրյան (Akhuryan) and floodwaters, and on the other hand it has created a fairytale land ani- mated by fairy chimneys, waterfalls, natural caves, mountains, valleys and plains. These structures and natural prosperity constituting the other face of Ani make up the main area of interest of this book. 

Rendering all that I have accumulated as a result of my 20-year-long efforts of discovery and documen- tation with regards to the prosperity that is one of the main factors leading to the inclusion of Ani in the UN- ESCO World Heritage List, yet has still not become the topic of academic or other kinds of publications, into a 

written and published document in order to prove that Ani is not only an archaeological site but more, to cre- ate a basis for future scientific studies and to contrib- ute to the cultural and economic wealth of our country also meant paying my debt of gratitude to Ani. 

Yet both in my work in the field and in my docu- mentation and archival work I made effort to create a basis that scientists would be able to use for their benefit. I present the findings of this work in a manner as free of prejudice as possible, and attempting as best I can to reflect the multiculturality of Ani. In the following text you shall read, I made a point of using a plain yet narrative voice befitting the mysteries of Ani. 

My aim was to share with you the known yet ig- nored or completely forgotten mysterious world of Ani in line with the research and study I have conducted on the matters I have mentioned above. Along with this, I have also tried to use as much as I could the names given by the local folk to the natural and cultural as- sets that have survived from past to present, which I came to know as a result of my field work. 

It has not, however, been possible to convey all the information and documents I collected in one sin- gle book. I shall present the other portion of my work, what can be termed the oral history of this mysteri- ous world, in its entirety in another book. This book in question shall be comprised of tales, legends and stories that have been passed down over generations by word of mouth, and of information and documents including visuals I have gathered over the past twen- ty years through research both within the country and abroad, taking advantage of foreign resources as well. I believe that the mythos and logos of this city that have existed for centuries must be interwoven and told in a fantastic and epic language inspired by Ani’s enchanting history.

Vedat Akçayöz

To my grand masters Ara Güler and Coşkun Aral, who haveinspiredme with their photographs and documentaries.
Vedat Akçayöz


  • Born in Kars, Turkey in 1955. Attended the Middle East Technical University, Ankara for three years. Graduated from the Dede Korkut Educational Institute.
  • Shot documentary video and took photo- graphs in more than seventy countries.
  • Played an active role in the production of the documentary film Southwest Cauca- sian Republic.
  • Released the documentary film Molokans: the Faded Colors of Kars which won inter- national awards.
  • Recited the poems of Turkish poets Yunus Emre and Nâzım Hikmet at the Kirkenes Festival in Norway.
  • His photos of Kars and Ani area were exhibited in İstanbul, Ankara, Kars, Hatay, Georgia and Armenia.
  • His articles were published in newspapers and magazines and his documentary films were broadcast on television. He appeared as an actor and artistic interpreter in the- ater, musical recitals and poetry readings.
  • Received a plaque of honor from the Kars Foundation of Ankara for services ren- dered to the city of Kars.
  • Received a Professional Service Award in 2010 for his accomplishments in the pro- motion of Kars, the discovery of intangible cultural assets, and the conservation and research of historical texture.
  • Was voted the “Researcher of the Year in Kars” by the newspaper Hüryurt in 2010.
  • BM Conducted the projects “Ebul Hasan Harakani,”“The Statuettes of Kars,” and “The Folkloric Dolls of Kars.”
  • Was a co-editor of the Kars City Guide.

• Produced the SERKA-sponsored documentary film 

Spirit Wrestlers: the Doukhobors in Turkish, Russian and English with research and shooting in five countries. The film won the top award at the International Golden Saffron Documentary Film Festival in Turkey. 

• Akçayöz, who describes himself as a traveler activist, is currently the chairman of the Kars Culture and Art Association. 


• Eski Yeni Fotoğraflarla Kars Ani / Illustrated Story – Vedat Akçayöz. – Yıldırım Öztürkkan (ISBN:978- 605-88455-0-3) 

• Gravürler ve Minyatürlerle Kars / Kars in Gravurs and Miniatures- Vedat Akçayöz. Yıldırım Öztürk- kan (ISBN:978-605-88455-2-7) 

• Dünden bugüne / From yesterday to today Doğu- bayazıt – Yıldırım Öztürkkan. Vedat Akçayöz (ISBN:978-605-61564-8-9) 

• Annem Sara ve Malakanlar – Vedat Akçayöz (ISBN: 978-605-88455-3-4) 

• My Mother Sara And The Molokans – (ISBN 978- 605-396-430-8) 

• Ani’nin Gizemli Yüzü – Vedat Akçayöz. (ISBN: 978- 605-396-410-0) 

• The Mysterious Face Of Ani – Vedat Akçayöz (ISBN:978-605-884-554-1) 

• Eski ve yeni fotoğraflarla Kars / Kars with old and new photos – Vedat Akçayöz. Yıldırım Öztürkkan (ISBN:978-605-88455-1-0) 



Project Coordinator 

Perihan YÜCEL Denizbank Culture and Art Manager, 

Publication and Construction 

bimus Basın Yayın Reklam Organizasyon ve Tanıtım Hiz. Ltd. Şti. 

Advisor and English Version Editors 


Preparation for Publication 

Alper AKÇAYÖZ, Kemal ALİN 

Translated by 

Feride ERALP 

Translation of References 

Alper AKÇAYÖZ, Fuat AKÇAYÖZ (from English),
Hacali NECEFOĞLU (from Russian) 



Art and Publising Director 

Mustafa SARITAŞ, 

Art and Publising Consultans 

Tümer ARGIN, Hüsniye SARITAŞ, Attila GÜVENÇ 

Art Group 


©2018 Vedat Akçayöz 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission from author. 

Graphic Desing and Production by 

bimus Basın Yayın Reklam Organizasyon ve Tanıtım Hiz. Ltd. Şti. 

Mimar Sinan Mahallesi İsmail Dümbüllü Sk. N: 11-C Üsküdar / Istanbul, 2018 +90216 532 95 62 

Printed and Bound by 

Yıltem Reklam Basım Ltd. Şti. İstanbul, 2018 

First Print, July / 2018 DenizBank Publications: 37 ISBN: 978-605-245-236-3 Certificate No: 13194 




I wandered back and forth across Ani, accompanied by my dreams. I knocked on the doors of grandmothers, grandfathers, the elderly and wise.
I collected the truths of Ani, its tales, its stories and legends. 

And then;
I read the books of Nicholas Marr, Joseph Orbeli, David Kipshidze, Roberto Bixio and Toros Toramanyan countless times,
I sought them out – Marr, Orbeli, Kipshidze, Toramanyan, and Bixio.
I found their footprints in Ani, in its underground caves and religious spaces.
I walked and I crawled, relentlessly, on and on.
I observed and documented every step of this other Ani, underground.
Then years went by and I found my own path in Degirmendere, in the South of Karakom, in Giden Gelmez, in Gulluce, and among the Rock Paintings of Alem Village .
In the past this was my dream, and the work of a lifetime
– Ani on its way to UNESCO.
And in the end my dreams came true;
Ani gained its place on the permanent World Heritage List, complete with its mysterious face.
Ani is the polar star
Ani is mine, Ani is yours, Ani is ours, we are all,
Ani is human inheritance. 


Member of the Board of Coordination and Supervision & Mem- ber of the Archaelogical site of Ani Advisory Board
President of the Kars Culture and Art Association 



Mahmutbey Mh. Deve kaldırım Cd. 2622 Sk.
Güven İş Merkezi No:6/21 Bağcılar-İSTANBUL

© Telif Hakkı - New Discoveries In Ani