Ani: the Turkish ghost town protected by UNESCO

Ani was once a bustling trading town located along the Silk Road. What remains of it today is found in the Kars region of Turkey, but it was once the capital of Armenian kingdom that encompassed much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey.

The first people arrived here around 3000 BC. and they found a safe place to settle, feeling protected by the deep gorges created by the Akhurian River. Ani has then seen 23 civilizations and different dynasties pass over the centuries and has been sacked and destroyed to the present day, where vandals and someone passing by still delight in ruining what remains of it.

Only since July 2010 has UNESCO included it in the list of its heritage and, for the few buildings left in this ghost town, there is hope of being able to survive over time, preserving a history that has lasted for centuries.

The Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, in Ani, Turkey
Photo by Marco Tomasini from Shutterstock

Ani exudes authentic beauty even today, despite little left of the former capital. The different seasons always give vivid colors and, unlike other archaeological sites or tourist ghost towns, here you will not find large crowds of tourists, but only people attracted by the sense of adventure and the special place.

Ani’s buildings are constructed from the area’s volcanic basalt, which lends itself well to use, has insulating powers and colors ranging from reddish to black. The most important building in Ani is the cathedral, which was badly damaged by the 1319 earthquake and a Mongol invasion. Scattered among the meadows and hills are buildings that still need a visit. Consider that on the main (tourist) street you will find some of the most important such as the mosque and the three churches (Most Holy Savior, St. Gregory and Holy Redeemer), but if you want to explore the hills around to discover the whole ancient city, maybe you should take a few more hours.

Getting to Ani

To get to Ani it is first of all necessary to reach Kars from Ankara or wherever you prefer. Once you arrive in Kars you can choose between the different daily tours offered by the various agencies or you can look for some local bus that can take you to the archaeological site via a road of about 42 km.
Alternatively, you can rent a car and admire the rural landscape even more calmly.

10+ 3 abandoned European villages that only a truly brave solo traveler should visit



It may happen that, between one trip and another, we feel like trying our luck and organizing something a little more exciting than usual. You know, traveling alone can mean a few more unexpected events but, if for one reason or another we decide to get away from everything and everyone, here are some cities or villages around Europe that only the bravest should visit traveling alone.

These are some villages that for various reasons (geological events, wars or more), have been evacuated and never returned to their original state. The inhabitants have been relocated en masse to new nearby settlements and now only onlookers, photographers and wildlife roam here.

1.Oradour sur Glane: This French village not far from Limoges is remembered for a massacre that took place on June 10, 1944, during the Second World War. Here 642 people lost their lives and, since then, only a museum of memory has been established here. Everything else is in a state of neglect. If you decide to come here, remember what happened and that it still remains a place of memory.

Wrecked car in Oradour Sur Glane (Photo by Guitou60 from Adobe stock Photo)

2.Doel, in Belgium, has a very special history: up to the 1970s it had a thousand inhabitants but with the new project to expand the port of Antwerp it was decided to start demolishing houses here. However, there are still a few hundred “dissidents” who do not want to know about selling their house and, today, Doel has become the village of street art and murals.
So there remain closed windows and doors and walls full of incredible drawings. Maybe a visit here could be worth a few hours of your trip if you are passionate about street art

Doel: facade of an abandoned house (Photo by Ronny from Adobe stock Photos)

3. Pripyat also has a very special history. It was evacuated after the Chernobyl disaster, the well-known accident at the nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986 that initially caused 65 deaths. Pripyat, evacuated after the disaster, can now be visited thanks to some Kiev tour operators who organize excursions here. On the way back, if you just can’t resist the idea of visiting this desolate place, there are still many radiation checks. It even seems that a few hundred inhabitants managed to escape control and now reside permanently here.

Pripyat: Abandoned bumper cars-Photo by Robert Armstrong from Pixabay


4.If it is already hard to think of going to the Svalbard Islands (either alone or with others), trying to get to Pyramiden could prove to be fascinating but somewhat prohibitive.
Founded as a mining town in 1910, Pyramiden bears this name due to the shape of the mountain behind it. In 1998 it was abandoned by the last Russian miners after being used by several mining companies for years. Since 2011 it seems to have been inhabited again for tourist purposes. If you do not like the idea of coming here to meet bears, birds, wild animals and some humans, however, know that on the Svalbard Islands you can visit 3 other ghost towns:
-Advent City
-Grumantbyen ( photo below)
-Colesbukta
… unless a polar bear eats you first

Grumant settlement at Svalbard, Spitzbergen

5. Belchite, in Spain, was also destroyed by a war. We are in the period of the Spanish Civil War and on 22 August 1937 a siege begins which will only end at the beginning of September. Belchite will be completely destroyed and only a monument of the heroes will remain here. Some films will also be shot after Belchite. But what you see in the photo below is what remains of the historic center of the city.

a view of the remains of the old town of Belchite, Spain, destroyed during the Spanish Civil War and abandoned from then, highlighting the San Martin de Tours church

6.Craco is a small town in the province of Matera in Italy and in the 1950s it began to depopulate due to a landslide that endangered the stability of its houses. At the beginning of the 80s Craco became a ghost town even if today it is a real tourist destination and even a film set on some occasions. Surely a destination within the reach of even the most fearful.

Craco: a donkey grazes the grass at the foot of the abandoned town

7. Dvigrad is a medieval Croatian city also called Due Castelli. Its history has been full of battles and continuous sieges which it has often resisted thanks to its fortifications but, only in 1715, after a strong malaria epidemic, even the last inhabitants were forced to leave

Aerial view of the abandoned village of Dvigrad

8.Not much information about Jantuha, a city in Abkhazia, one of the autonomous republics in which Georgia (formerly the Soviet Union) is divided, but it is certain that looking at the image probably even the most fearless of solitary travelers would find it difficult to enter such a desolate and abandoned place.
Doesn’t it remind you of a scene from the film “Eurotrip”?

Abandoned mining ghost-town Jantuha, Abkhazia. Destroyed empty houses, the remains of the cars, remnant of The Georgian-Abkhazian war

9.This is a real gem and, even if we don’t recommend sleeping at night, it’s sure to be worth a visit. Kayakoy is a completely abandoned Greek-style village that overlooks the Aegean Sea but stands, or rather once stood on the Turkish coasts. The inhabitants now live in the valley and tourism is certainly not lacking here thanks to these splendid ruins surrounded by greenery. For all types of travelers.

Kayakoy, Fethiye, Turkey

Ten. Irbene and Skrunda-1 in Latvia are two Russian military bases with giant radars that are also abandoned. If you want to take a beach holiday, here we are not very far from the fresh seas of Northern Europe and, judging by the photos, already inside the abandoned site, you can see some sand dunes. There are also some hotels in the area. Think about it!

Foto: Edijs Pālens, http://www.edijsfoto.lv