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    Kars, standing at an altitude of 1750 meters in Eastern Anatolia, has played an important role in Turkish history and was at the center of the Turkish-Russian War. The Russian legacy can still be seen in much of the town’s architecture. The lower city unfolds at the foot of an impressive Seljuk fortress of the 12th century. Nearby, the Havariler Museum (the 10th century Church of the Apostles) reveals a curious mixture of architectural influences. Bas-reliefs representing the twelve apostles in rather stiff and awkward poses, ring the exterior drum of the dome.

    The Archaeological Museum houses beautiful wood-carvings, an excellent collection of coins found in the surrounding region, as well as many ethnographic items relating to eastern Turkey. Kars is particularly known for its distinctive kilims and carpets, and it retains a strong heritage of folk dancing. Visitors always seem to enjoy this traditional entertainment. On the mountain pastures, villagers produce excellent Kasar cheese (yellow cheese) and delicious honey.

    The Kur river divides Ardahan and separates the ancient part on one side and the new city on the other. A 16th century castle built by Sultan Selim the Grim, one of the most stately citadels in Turkey with 14 towers and a span of 745 meters, stands in the old part of the city.

    Cildir takes its name from the nearby lake which lies at an altitude of 1965 meters. The scenic area around the lake provides a habitat for a fascinating variety of birds. In the lake, the man-made Akcakale Island was reputedly constructed with the labor of thousands; a temple with Urartian inscriptions remains. Seytan Kalesi (Devil’s Castle) is near Cildir.

    Sarikamis (53 km southwest of Kars) is a ski center with resort hotels, setting of a scenic pine forest. On 19th of October 2004 Allahüekber Mountains were declared as the 34th National Park of Turkey by the Government so it’s believed that it will attract more visitors and help to the local economy as well.

    Ani Archaeological Site

    an Armenian church at AniForty-two kilometers east of the city on the ancient Silk Road, the medieval city of Ani (Ocakli) lies mostly in ruins. Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravanserais.

    Although the ancient settlement of Ani began as an Armenian settlement, had endured waves of successive conquerors; Muslims, Byzantines, Mongols, among them. It was not until the Mongol rule of Asia Minor that the city was abandoned. In 1336, the mostly Armenian citizens were forced to leave and Ani was never again inhabited.

    Among the structures left behind were proto-Gothic-style churches that may predate by 125 years Europe’s first realization of the form, palaces, crenellated defensive walls, a bridge, even an early post office. For the centuries before its abandonment, the city had been a medieval capital of political, economic, cultural, and architectural importance. The site is vulnerable to earthquakes, harsh weather and winds, vegetation growth etc.

    Grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation enabled an on-site assessment by experts to take place in order to establish preservation priorities. Funds are being solicited for emergency stabilization. Expert masons and conservators are needed for restorations on site.

    Ani was listed in 1996 and 1998 as one of the 100 most endangered sites of the world by World Monuments Fund.


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