Kars, 212 km northeast of Erzurum, stands at an altitude of 1,750 meters and has played an important role in Turkish history. It was at the center of the Turko 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 from 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 primitive 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 folkdancing. Visitors always seem to enjoy this traditional entertainment. On the mountain pastures, villagers produce excellent Kasar cheese and delicious honey. About 42 kilometres east of the city on the ancient Silk Road, the medieval Armenian capital of Ani (Ocakli) lies mostly in ruins.
Fifty kilometers north of Kars, nature lovers may consider excursions to Lake Clidir, with its artificial island. This area, possessing many different kinds of fish and birds, is a naturepreserve, and it is a lovely spot for relaxation and picnicking.
Impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravanserais. Sarikamis (53 km southwest of Kars) is a ski center with resort hotels set in a scenic pine forest. Regarding the specialties of the region, folkloric values play an important role, and visitors will enjoy the traditional entertainment of rich and interesting folk dances. The kilims and carpets woven in the area are also famous for their colors and designs. Delicious honey is another specialty of Kars, and tasty “kasar” (Keshkawal) cheese is produced by the villagers in this city of pastures and dairy products.