City of One Thousand and One Churches

As was mentioned in a couple of earlier posts, two men, Grigor Lousavoritch (in the 4th century) and Mesrob Mashdots ( in the 5th century), blessed Armenians and Armenia with unique gifts. Grigor brought Christianity and built churches and cathedrals; and Mesrob created an alphabet for the Armenian language. Shortly after Mesrob’s creation, scholars translated the Bible into Armenian and the Church of Armenia started monasteries.

The entry of Christianity and the transformation of Armenian into a written language brought many other changes to Armenia. Classics from other languages were translated into Armenian. Whenever possible families sent their sons to Constantinople and Edessa for education. Scholars and religious leaders wrote church history, hymns, and other literature. The religious and literary developments during the fifth century brought in Armenia’s Golden Age. Armenia’s Christian Church became the backbone of a cultural unity.

By the ninth century, the city of Ani became independent Armenia’s capital and the city of one thousand and one churches.

The glory of Ani was pulled apart, however, by the Seljuk Turks two hundred years later. And in the thirteenth century, Tartars invaded from the east and completely destroyed Ani. (Its ruins reside within the borders of modern-day Turkey.)

Seven centuries before 1915, the churches of Ani had been torn into little more than rubble, but the invaders hadn’t succeeded in extinguishing Christianity from Armenian culture.