It took Ferda and me 26 hours to get (by bus) from Antalya to Kars. Emek and Görkem drove from Muğla, and Hacer took the bus from Mersin. We were the last of our group of five to arrive. I had been to Kars (the province (il)) twice before, but I had never been to the city of Kars. I was quite looking forward to it. For good reason, it turns out.
If you’re into Belle Epoque Russian Architecture or Baltic Architecture or Armenian stonemason expertise in Turkey, well, Kars is the place to visit.
If you don’t know what any of that means, well, you’ll have to look beyond this blog to learn anything. During our couple days in Kars, I just enjoyed wandering around and taking photos of the architecture.
The highlight might be the 10th century Armenian church:
Kars’ history is rather confusing, but if you look at the last 1000 years, it seems the Armenians were here the most.
The Russians stayed around about half a century. The 19th century Aleksandr Nevski Church is the most iconic building from that period.
Aynalı Köşk is, I believe, an example of Baltic architecture:
and this perhaps a good example of Russian Belle Epoque Architecture?
And a combination of the two styles?
Here’s the Russian Cheltikov House, now a hotel:
Most of what we see of the castle above the city is from the Armenians.
Like I said before, it’s a fun city to walk around in the same sense as Barcelona but without the hordes of tourists and unwelcoming locals.
Epicures will not want to leave Kars without trying the goose. I finally (on my third visit) did and rather enjoyed it.
In the garden of the small museum I was excited to see some ram-shaped gravestones like the one we stumbled upon last year in a village in Dersim.
The museum also had a few beautiful silver belts. I was even more excited to see a woman wearing one of these belts on our first day of bicycling in the village of Kümbetli. Unfortunately I have no photos of the belts.
Before starting our bicycle tour heading west toward Selim, we went by car one morning east to the Armenian border to the ruined Armenian (capital?) city of Ani. This really is one of Turkey’s incredible tourist sites though it’s hard to fathom what the Armenians think of it being on Turkish soil now.
King Gagik Church:
Church of Saint Gregory:
Reminded me of Georgia and makes me want to go to Armenia.
Unlike when I visited Ani nine years ago with Sage, you can now walk all the way out to Kızkalesi ve Kilisesi. This is about as far as we went:
They are apparently, with scaffolding, trying to keep the cathedral from falling down.
Here’s the Monastery of Hripsimian Virgins:
The highlight of Ani is perhaps the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents with its colorful (and not terribly destroyed) frescoes.
I know, I know, time to start bicycle touring.