"Far Away Kars" Kars Ili by terrycowan

Kars Ili Travel Guide: 32 reviews and 127 photos

The province of Kars is in far eastern Turkey, next to the Armenian border. It may not be everyone's destination, but I enjoyed the short time I was in the region. The area is characterized by sweeping vistas and windswept hills (which reminded me of the western US state of Wyoming). The area is ideal for hiking and exploring, with one major exception. The Turkish Army maintains a heavy presence in the region due to the continuing concern of Kurdish rebel activity, as well as the historically strained relations with Armenia. Consequently, large areas are in what are known as "restricted zones," and off-limits to travelers.

A visit to the Kars province is, nevertheless, rewarding. Up until the First World War and the resulting Armenian Genocide, the region was overwhelmingly Armenian (this goes against the official Turkish line, but is still true). Scattered ruins of Armenian churches, monasteries and cathedrals dot the area (many of them are maddeningly off-limts, though). But the main draw are the incredible ruins of the medieval Armenian capital of Ani. This is the "must-see" of this part of Turkey.

The city of Kars is interesting in itself. It is decidedly un-Turkish in design. The Russians held the city from the 1870s until the early 1920s, and they intended to stay. The city is laid out on an European grid system, with wide boulevards. Over 200 buildings remain that were constructed by the Russians in the "Baltic Style." The hilltop citadel and the 9th-century Armenian church complete the picture.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Ani is a Treasure!
  • Cons:The Restricted Zones
  • Last visit to Kars Ili: Jun 2006
  • Intro Written Jan 5, 2007
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terrycowan

“"It's great to be at home in a region, even this one." Flannery O'Connor”

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