Between 961 and 1045 it was the capital of the medieval (Bagratuni) Armenian Kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey. The city is located on a triangular site, visually dramatic and naturally defensive, protected on its eastern side by the ravine of the Akhurian River and on its western side by the Bostanlar or Tzaghkotzadzor valley. The Akhurian is a branch of the Araks River and forms part of the current border between Turkey and Armenia. Called the "City of 1001 Churches," Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.
At its height, Ani had a population of 100,000–200,000 people and was the rival of Constantinople, Baghdad and Damascus. Long ago renowned for its splendor and magnificence, Ani was abandoned and largely forgotten following the earthquake of 1319.