Kars, Turkey

In the northeastern corner of the country, stands Kars, over a high plateau. The province, famous in Turkish history, lies at the foot of a magnificent fortress, the Kars Kalesi from the 12th century. This castle constructed by the Seljuks, was later restored in the 19th century, and it affords a wonderful view of the land below. Nearby is an old cathedral which was subsequently used as a church, named as the Havariler Museum (the Church of the Apostles) where some relief of the Apostles can be seen.

One of the most important sights in Kars, is the Kars Museum, housing many archaeological finds from the earliest ages. Beautiful wood carvings, and a wide collection of coins found in the area are exhibited here, together with some ethnographic works of art, such as fine kilims, carpets and local costumes.

42 kms east of Kars, lies Ani, a fascinating medieval town, situated on the ancient Silk Road. This impressive place was once the capital of Urartians, later invaded by the Byzantines and the Mongols, and is located near the Arpacay stream which flows between the Turkish and Armenian Republics. The proximity of this ghost town to the border, places some restrictions on visitors, but the ruins of the mosques and numerous churches, together with the cathedral and the citadel, all inside city walls, are really worth seeing.

Fifty kilometers north of Kars, nature lovers may consider excursions to Lake Clidir, with its artificial island. This area, possessing many different kinds of fish and birds, is a naturepreserve, and it is a lovely spot for relaxation and picnicking. 53 kms from Kars, is Sankamls, another pretty town, which is a ski centre surrounded by large pine forests. It is an attractive resort with modern facilities, providing opportunities for every type of winter sport. Kagizman is famous for its rock reliefs belonging to the Neolithic Age. The Aras River canyon is full of wild, natural beauties. The other significant locations are Tuzluca for its salt caves, Gole for its meadows and Aygir Lake, Posof for its forests and mountains is heavenly and Digor where it is believed that the famous Turkish poet Dede Korkut lived.

Regarding the specialties of the region, folkloric values play an important role, and visitors will enjoy the traditional entertainment of rich and interesting folk dances. The kilims and carpets woven in the area are also famous for their colors and designs. Delicious honey is another specialty of Kars, and tasty "kasar" (Keshkawal) cheese is produced by the villagers in this city of pastures and dairy products.