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Erzurum, which is located on a plateau at an altitude of 1,950 m/ 6,400 ft, is the largest city in Eastern Anatolia. Erzurum has very old origins extending back to about 4000 BC. Since antiquity Erzurum has been located on a caravan route from Anatolia to Persia, and has also been an important strategic centre. The region was conquered by the Urartians, Cimmerians, Scyths, Medes, the Persians, the Romans. However, it actually gained importance after it became a Byzantine stronghold and the fortress of Theodosiopolis was built. The religious divergence between the Armenians and Greeks often gave rise to clashes between the two populations. Taking advantage of the situation, the Sassanids temporarily occupied the city in the early 6th century. In 632, the Byzantines held a synod to impose on the Armenian Church to join the principles of the Greek orthodoxy. In 651, the place fell to the Arabs who called it "Erzen er-Rum" (the land of the Romans) or “Arz-er Rum” from which its present name is derived. Erzurum was in turn occupied by the Arabs and the Byzantines who made many attempts to take back the city. From 923, Byzantine general John Kurkuas defeated the Arabs on several fronts. The city was then handed to the governorship of the Armenians, and about 978, under the name Karin, it was incorporated into the Armenian Bagratid Kingdom. From 1049, the region was invaded by the Seljuks and the city fell into their hands in 1071 after the Battle of Manzikert where they defeated the Byzantines. The city, which had become very prosperous under the Seljuk rulers, came under the domination of the Mongols in the mid 13th century and was occupied by Tamerlane in 1400. Erzurum was finally united to the Ottoman Empire in 1514 by Sultan Selim I.
Erzurum was occupied in 1828, 1878, and 1916-18 by the Russians. It was returned to the Ottomans with the Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918). On July 23, 1919 the Congress was held in Erzurum under the chairmanship of de Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk). During this congress, the foundations of national unity and independence movements were laid.

Erzurum has the bad reputation of beeing the second coldest city (after Kars) in Turkey. Located only a few kilometers away from Erzurum at an altitude of 2,150 m/ 7,053 ft to 3,100 m/ 10,170 ft, Palandöken is a very well equiped and successfull ski resort due to long-lasting winters (ski season lasts from early December till May) and beautiful pistes.

The speciality of the region is the "oltu taşı" or “Erzurum stone”, a black or brown-veined volcanic glass (obsidian) used in the making of jewels and other hand crafted articles.

Javelin Games are held every year in April-May.

Erzurum is linked by daily flights to Ankara and Istanbul.

Places of interest in the city:
Ulu Cami, the oldest mosque in Erzurum (1179), has a beautiful wooden dome and seven wide naves.

Çifte Minare Medresesi, the old school of theology with two minarets covered with tiles, has a finely sculpted portal. It is a beautiful example of 13th century architecture, however its date of construction is not well defined because it is attributed either to Hande Hatun, the daughter of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat I (1220-1236), or to Padisha Hatun, the wife of IlKhanid Sultan Gaykhatu (1291-1295)..

The Yakutiye Medresesi, built in 1310 by Cemaleddin Hoca Yakut Gazani in the name of Gazanhan and Bolugan Hatun in the time of Sultan Olcayto, is one of the rare monuments of the Ilkanid Period left in Anatolia. It houses the Turkish - Islamic Works and Ethnographical museum.

Lala Mustafa Paşa Mosque is a 16th century mosque built by the great architect Sinan.

The "Türbe" : Üc Kümbetler (the three tombs) : the largest tomb, Emir Sultan Türbesi, belongs to Emir Sultan who was the founder of the Saltukid emirate. The identity of the other two is unknown.
Further down stands the Hatuniye Türbesi (1255), the tomb of Alaeddin Keykubat's daughter. These two türbes are the best examples of domed tombs.

The Castle
which Byzantine origins date back to the 5th century, was rebuilt by the Seljuks (1124-1132) and used as military barracks until recently. The mosque is a good architectural example from that period. The Clock Tower was built in the 19th century on the bases of a Seljuk watchtower.

The Rüstem Pasa Caravanserai and the Bedesten (covered bazaar).

The Aziziye monument commemorates the Turko-Russian War.

The Archaeological Museum

The Congress Museum: the building were the congress was held also serves as Fine Arts School.
The Atatürk Museum, installed in a late 19th century mansion, is located in Çaykara Avenue.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Hüseyin Rauf Bey and his companions settled in the Governor’s residence on 9 July 1919 for 52 days until 29 August 1919 for the preparation and during the Erzurum Congress.



is an old Armenian citadel restored by Uzun Hasan (1435-1478), the famest leader of the White Sheep (Akkoyunlular), a Turcoman tribe which settled in the mid 14 th century in south-eastern Anatolia, ruling the region from Diyarbakır.

, the 13th century Seljuk bridge that spans over the Arax (Aras) river, was restored by famous architect Sinan in the 16th century.


The city of Kars is located at an altitude of 1,750 meters (5,741 ft), to the northeast of Erzurum close to the borders of Georgia and Armenia. Although it is not the highest city in Turkey, Kars has the bad reputation of being the coldest city in the country with temperatures dropping to minus 30 degrees Celsius (- 22 F) during the winter season. Situated 55 km/ 34 miles southwest of Kars at an altitude of 2,634 m/ 8,641 ft is Sarıkamış, a ski center with ideal snow qualified with international standards, set in a scenic pine forest (ski season lasts from mid December till the end of April).

After different periods of occupations, at the beginning of the 10th century, Kars became the seat of the Armenian Bagratid Kingdom until it was supplanted by Ani as the capital. Later it fell into the hands of the Seljuks and the Georgians. After the Ottoman conquest in 1514, Kars became an important fortified place near the Russian border. It was besieged many times by the Russians and was conquered by them during the Crimean War (1853-56), becoming the center of the Turko-Russian war. Given back to the Turks, it was again occupied between 1878 and 1920, when it was granted to Turkey by the Treaty of Andrinople.

The town, built on a grid plan, reveals a stereotyped architecture left the Russians.

Because of its location amid green pastures, the region of Kars produces an excellent cheese. Kars is also reputed for folk dances, kilims and carpets.

Kars is linked to Ankara by daily flights.

Places of interest:

The Citadel
, founded by the Armenians, has a double wall which delimits an inner citadel.

The Church of the Apostles (10th century) is now a museum.

Taşköprü, located in the lower town at the foot of the citadel, is a good example of Ottoman stone bridge. Next to it, there is an old hammam.

The Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum


Ani, the ancient capital of the Bagratids, is located on a plateau near the gorges of the Arpa Çayı, whose course has delimited the border between Armenia and Turkey. Due to the proximity of the border, an authorization for the visit must be obtained from the Kars Tourism Office, and countersigned by the police in Ani.

The Armenian people who, at the time, was a prey to civil wars, had to split into two kingdoms: the Southern Kingdom in the region of Van, and the Northern Kingdom in the hands of the Bagratids. Ani was founded by Ashot Msaker (806-827) who was a prince of the Bagratid family, but it was made the Bagratid capital by Ashot III only in 961. In 993, during the construction of the cathedral, the See of the Armenian Catholicos was transferred here. This prosperous city owed to Sembat II its double walls with four gates and round towers still visible today. Weakened by fratricide wars, Ani was also assaulted by the Georgians and threatened by the Seljuks. Hovhannes Sembat asked for the protection of the Byzantines, in compensation of what, he bequeathed his kingdom to them. Gagik II who did not hold his Uncle’s word (who died in 1040) was forced to give it up in 1045. Only a few years later, Ani was taken by the Seljuks led by Alparslan. The place came under the power of emirs then was taken from Muslim hands by the Georgians. The Armenian governors remained under their sovereignty until the time of the devastating Mongol invasion towards the middle of the 13th century. Trade with the oriental countries was completely ruined and Ani was depopulated and finally deserted.

The most interesting remains are:

The walls and the Lion Gate.

St Gregory of Tigran Honetz Church.

The Cathedral.

Abul Ghamrentz Church.

The Mosque