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Ani Overlook

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File:Ani overlook-dcp7133.jpg On the main road from Gyumri, turn right on a narrow paved road just before the little village of Ani Kayaran (Ani Station, 377 p). The road winds to a military checkpoint manned by Russian border guards, half of them Armenians under contract. With prior permission from the Foreign Ministry (located in Republic Square, Yerevan), or a pleasant smile and good story or (supposedly pending) a policy change on access to the closed zone, you may be allowed to drive along an earthen to an overlook point W of the settlement of Kharkov, from which the medieval Armenian capital city of Ani** is laid out on its promontory a few hundred meters and many centuries away across the Akhurian river gorge in Turkey. The sight is unforgettable, particularly in late afternoon.

The situation as of summer 2005: photographing Ani from the Armenian side of the border is forbidden; the Russian guards may confiscate and destroy the film and videotape of anyone attempting to take pictures. The best way to get advance permission (including permission to take photographs) is, reportedly, to get it from the archbishop of Gyumri. Because of quarrying, extensive environmental devastation continues to be inflicted onto the hillsides of the Armenian territory opposite Ani. Archaeological monuments are also being destroyed: a medieval cave-chapel that visitors to the Ani overlook used to be able to visit appears to have been entirely destroyed (though the Russian guards merely say that it cannot be visited because the entrance has been blocked up).

File:Ani overlook-dcp7134.jpg

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