Kars

Kars (212 km northeast of Erzurum) stands at an altitude of 1,750 meters and has played an important role in Turkish history. It was at the center of the Turko-Russian War. The Russian legacy can still be seen in much of the town's architecture. The lower city unfolds at the foot of an impressive Seljuk fortress from the 12th century. Nearby, the Havariler Museum (the 10th century Church of the Apostles) reveals a curious mixture of architectural influences.

Bas-reliefs representing the twelve apostles in rather stiff and primitive poses, ring the exterior drum of the dome. The Archaeological Museum houses beautiful wood carvings, an excellent collection of coins found in the surrounding region, as well as many ethnographic items relating to eastern Turkey. Kars is particularly known for its distinctive kilims and carpets, and it retains a strong heritage of folkdancing. Visitors always seem to enjoy this traditional entertainment. On the mountain pastures, villagers produce excellent Kasar cheese and delicious honey.

About 42 kilometers east of the city on the ancient Silk Road, the medieval Armenian capital of Ani (Ocakli) lies mostly in ruins. Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravanserais. The extent to which the large churches are still standing after a thousand years will amaze you. Sarikamis (53 km southwest of Kars) is a ski center with resort hotels set in a scenic pine forest.

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