Kars and Ani: the start of another bicycle tour

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.

IMG_20210805_171334 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210804_161644 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210804_161950 by bryandkeith on flickr

If you’re into Belle Epoque Russian Architecture or Baltic Architecture or Armenian stonemason expertise in Turkey, well, Kars is the place to visit.

IMG_20210804_165424 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_171218 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_172133 by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

IMG_20210805_183337 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20210804_162457 by bryandkeith on flickr

Aynalı Köşk is, I believe, an example of Baltic architecture:

IMG_20210804_170153 by bryandkeith on flickr

and this perhaps a good example of Russian Belle Epoque Architecture?

IMG_20210805_171603 by bryandkeith on flickr

And a combination of the two styles?

IMG_20210806_122246 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s the Russian Cheltikov House, now a hotel:

IMG_20210805_205404 by bryandkeith on flickr

Most of what we see of the castle above the city is from the Armenians.

IMG_20210806_111137 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210806_110057 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210806_190717 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20210805_171103 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210806_121309 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210806_101128 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_185153 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210806_174819 by bryandkeith on flickr

Epicures will not want to leave Kars without trying the goose. I finally (on my third visit) did and rather enjoyed it.

This was my third time in Kars (İl), and I finally ate goose for the first time.  It was tasty. by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

Akkoyunlu Mezar Taşı (14. Yüzyıl-Koç Heykeli) by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20210805_094730_4 by bryandkeith on flickr

King Gagik Church:

IMG_20210805_101236_41 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_101419 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_101526 by bryandkeith on flickr

Church of Saint Gregory:

IMG_20210805_102906 by bryandkeith on flickr

Reminded me of Georgia and makes me want to go to Armenia.

IMG_20210805_103408 by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

IMG_20210805_110709 by bryandkeith on flickr

They are apparently, with scaffolding, trying to keep the cathedral from falling down.

IMG_20210805_121159 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s the Monastery of Hripsimian Virgins:

IMG_20210805_122714 by bryandkeith on flickr

The highlight of Ani is perhaps the Church of Saint Gregory of Tigran Honents with its colorful (and not terribly destroyed) frescoes.

IMG_20210805_124210 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_124407 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_125545 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_130335 by bryandkeith on flickr

I know, I know, time to start bicycle touring.

IMG_20210805_132051 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210805_111436 by bryandkeith on flickr
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2 Responses to Kars and Ani: the start of another bicycle tour

  1. Jennie & Derek Werner says:

    Most interesting!

  2. Mike Painter says:

    Wonderful architecture!

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