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Kars

Kars
This rather odd but charming town is on the banks of the Kars Çayı river and is unusual in Turkey because of the out of place terraces of Russian “belle époque” buildings.  
Kars is 200m lower than Erzurum but has a climate that is more severe and the potholes in the roads never quite recover from the brutal winters and when it rains the outskirts of town become a perilous swamp.  There is not much to see here although many visitors make the long journey solely to visit the former Armenian capital of Ani.  


Major improvements made since the 1990s have changed Kars beyond recognition and its main streets are now well signposted, have been paved with cobblestones and bricks and there are designated pedestrian zones.  The areas around the castle (Kale) were renovated during a project of the Global Heritage Fund, who also rebuilt Ottoman houses, restored hamams and churches, and today the town can offer good accommodation, restaurants and shopping options.  

Kars was originally founded by Armenians who called it Kari and it became the capital of their Bagratid dynasty in the 10th century, it was ruled over by Seljuks in the mid-11th century, then Mongols, and in 1205 the Georgians, and three centuries later the Ottomans.  In 1878 the Russians and Armenians took over and it remained with them until 1920 and today it is still a forward military position with a native population of 90,000 that gets swamped with soldiers.  
It has a long distance bus station, train station and a tourist office that has maps and it is easier here to find restaurants that serve alcohol than in Erzurum.  

Places to Visit in Kars

Church of the Holy Apostles

Places of interest include the Church of the Holy Apostles built around 930 by King Abbas I of Armenia, a stone bridge “Taş Köprü” made of volcanic rock as is the church close by that was restored in 1580s.  

Kars Castle

There are also some 18th century hamams and the Kars Kalesi or Castle that opens as a park and is where locals come to pay their respects at the tomb of Celal Baba, a 14th century holy man, and to take in the superb views over Kars.  

Kars Museum and Fethiye Mosque

The Kars Museum opens everyday and is close to the mosque Fethiye Camii that was converted into a Russian Orthodox Church in the 19th century.

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Turkish Food Recipes

Courgette Stuffed with Beef - Red Meat Courses

Main Course

Cocoa Cake - Cakes & Cookies

Tea Time Pastry

Gozleme with Potato Filling - Pastries

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Pogaca with Aubergine Filling - Pastries

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Hummus or Humus - Cold Meze

Orange Biscuits - Cakes & Cookies

Tea Time Pastry

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