Armenian Kars and Ani represents a departure from the preceding volumes in the series Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces, which have focused on the historic Western Armenian provinces, cities, and communities that were encompassed in the Ottoman Empire. In modern history, Kars an Ani were very much a part of Eastern or Russian Armenia, and, even after the Turkish border was pushed eastward again in the aftermath of World War I, the Russian and Caucasian influences in the region remained manifest in its urban planning and architecture and in its music, cuisine, and other forms of popular culture.
Historically, Ani, lying along the right bank of the Akhurian River in the great plain of Shirak, outshone Kars as the medieval Bagratuni kingdom’s last illustrious capital city, with its great walls and grand palaces and its fables thousand and one churches. But Kars preceded Ani as the Bagratuni capital and, what was more, continued to exist as a regional administrative center long after the decline and ultimate abandonment of Ani. Hence, while the histories of the two neighboring Armenian cities are linked, they are also quite distinct.
Scholars from various disciplines present the history and culture of the region across the centuries until its de-Armenization following the fall of the first Republic of Armenia in 1920.