Last Updated on February 17, 2022 by Kurdish Heritage

About this monument

THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE OF ANI (Kurdish: Şunwarê Arkeolojîk Anî) is a ruined city and archaeological site in Northern Kurdistan’s Qers Province, corresponding with North Eastern Turkey’s Kars Province.

Ani, nicknamed the “City of 1001 Churches and 40 Gates”, is a historic Armenian city that was first attested in the 5th century. The city may have been founded by the Armenian Kamsarakan Dynasty.

Even though Ani is clearly and without a doubt a historically Armenian city, Kurds have played a significant role in the city’s history. Ani was the capital of the Kurdish Shaddadid Dynasty between 1072 – 1175. The dynasty was established in 951 and disestablished in 1199.

Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236 and never recovered from a devastating earthquake in 1319. Ani’s “Kurdish Period” was the city’s final thriving period. Some important Kurdish-built monuments survived these events, such as the 11th century Mosque of Manuchihr ibn Shavur.

Today, the Turkish State rejects the city’s Kurdish and Armenian past. The Turkish State describes the Armenian monuments as Georgian and the Kurdish monuments as Turkish/Seljuk. Some Armenians only reluctantly acknowledge the city’s Kurdish past.

The Archaeological Site of Ani was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List during the 40th session in July 2016 and meets the following selection criteria:

(ii), (iii), & (iv)

To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, historic or natural sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention which, besides the text of the Convention, is the main working tool on World Heritage.

UNESCO criteria can be cultural and/or natural; the first six criteria are cultural and applicable to historic sites such as architectural structures and archaeological sites. The last four criteria are applicable to natural sites, such as national parks. Sites that meet both cultural and natural criteria are called “mixed sites”, for example ancient rock paintings.

Before a historic or natural site is inscribed on UNESCO’s permanent list, it has to be included on a State Party’s Tentative List. State Parties will submit a historic or natural site for nomination and justify the site’s “outstanding universal value” based on the criteria they believe the site meets. Often times, they will compare the to-be-nominated site to sites already inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A site has to be successfully tentatively listed before it can be inscribed on UNESCO’s (permanent) World Heritage List.

On, we list all the criteria a heritage site in Kurdistan or a Kurd-related heritage site outside of Kurdistan meets. We have added these criteria and UNESCO’s official (brief) explanation to the tabs on this page to make understanding and navigating between them a little bit easier.

to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;

to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;

to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;

to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;

to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Kurdistan is a geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people have historically formed a prominent majority population, and where Kurdish culture, language, and identity have historically been based. Contemporary use of “Kurdistan” refers to parts of Eastern- and South-Eastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), Northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), North-Western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and Northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) inhabited mainly by Kurds.

The Kurds have greatly shaped Middle-Eastern and European history, politics, and culture and have at times ruled over vast parts of the Middle-East, such as during the Kurdish Ayyubid Dynasty, immortalized in European and Middle-Eastern consciousness by its founder Sultan Saladin (Al-Nasir Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub al-Kurdi / Selahedînê Eyûbî).

Because of Kurdish migrations, Kurd-related heritage, including many UNESCO-listed monuments, can be found outside of the historic Kurdish homeland, in particular in Egypt and the Levant Region, where the Kurds built many defensive fortifications in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Currently, there are two autonomous Kurdish regions in the Middle-East. One is located in Northern Iraq and has full international recognition as an autonomous region. In fact, often being treated as a separate state altogether. This autonomous region is known by several names, including: “The Kurdistan Regional Government”, “The Kurdistan Region”, “Southern Kurdistan”, “Iraqi Kurdistan”, and “the KRG”. The other autonomous Kurdish region is younger and located in Northern Syria. This autonomous region is commonly known as Rojava, but also as Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).

This map is an estimation of UNESCO inscribed, tentatively listed, and eligible monuments within Kurdistan and of Kurd-related monuments outside of the historic Kurdish homeland. UNESCO monuments that are located within Kurdistan are not persé related to Kurds; Kurdistan is “the cradle of civilization”, and as such, many civilizations have left their marks there.

As of 19 September 2021;

there are 25 tentative UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 11 permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the borders of Kurdistan. In addition, two (2) cities are listed within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. Furthermore, there are nine (9) Kurd-related tentative and eight (8) Kurd-related permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites outside of Kurdistan (elsewhere in the Middle-East). In total: 34 tentative and 20 permanent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, plus two (2) cities, putting the total at 56. This does not include a vast sea of historic and natural sites that are eligible for UNESCO-inscription.

Monument Details

NameArchaeological Site of Ani
Name (KURDISH: Kurmancî)Şunwarê Arkeolojîk Anî
Place NameAni
Place Name (KURDISH: Kurmancî)Anî
Date of MonumentFirst attested in the 5th century ID21446
RegionNorthern Kurdistan (Bakurê Kurdistanê)
ProvinceKars / Qers
TypeUNESCO World Heritage Sites
TypeArchaeological Sites
TypeReligious Sites
SubtypeRegistered World Heritage Site
SubtypeAncient Cities and Ruins
SubtypeRock Tombs, Statues, Reliefs, Inscriptions and Caves
SubtypeArchaeological Dig and Survey Sites
SubtypeChurches, Monasteries and Cathedrals
SubtypeCity Walls, Towers and Gates
Monument StatusRuined
Dynasty / PeriodShaddadid
Dynasty / PeriodKamsarakan
Dynasty / PeriodBagratuni
Nationally ListedTurkey
UNESCO StatusInscribed (Permanent List)
UNESCO TypeCultural
How does this monument relate to Kurds or Kurdistan?


Although Ani is clearly and without a doubt a historically Armenian city, Kurds have played a significant role in the city's development. Ani was the capital of the powerful Kurdish Shaddadid Dynasty between 951 - 1199, ruling the city and surroundings regions for centuries. During this period, Kurds and Armenians lived side by side in peace. Ani, nicknamed "City of 1001 Churches and 40 gates" thrived during this period. The Kurds built many monuments during this period, some of which, such as the 11th century Mosque of Manuchihr ibn Shavur, survive to this day.


Geographically, Ani is located in Northern Kurdistan's Qers Province, which corresponds with North-Eastern Turkey's Kars Province.

UNESCO Criteriaii (cultural), iiI (cultural), iv (cultural)
Date of Inscription2016-07-10
Last Update2021-11-20
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