Kars: Winterfell of Turkey

3 minutes to read

With its 19th-century Russian imperial buildings, cold that can reach up -30 degrees in winter and Ancient Armenian ruins, Kars is one of the most amazing and different cities in Turkey. Kars is located in the Eastern Anatolia which makes it one of the highest cities in Turkey. In this unique city, there is almost no summer, there is only a short spring in July and August which is usually very rainy. Rest of the year is mostly bitterly cold and heavily snowed. If you want to experience how life would be if you live in a snow globe, Kars is the best city to visit.

To reach this incredible city, you can fly to Kars Harakani Airport and then take a cab -since it is only 7 km away from the city center- and reach the city center! This will cost you around 8 Euros (30-35 Turkish Liras). You can also use the famous Doğu Express train to reach Kars from Ankara, but I have to warn you that this train takes 24 hours. If you think that you have time then don't even hesitate to take it because it is an amazing experience to see the picturesque landscapes of other cities like Kayseri, Sivas, Erzincan, Erzurum in Turkey! So if you want to visit the Winterfell look-a-like city, get your coat and scarfs and let's explore the city together!

Kars, Turkey
Kars, Turkey
Kars, Turkey

The first stop in this ancient city should be Havariler Kilisesi or with its other name Kümbet Mosque! This place is also called "Hagia Sophia of the East" and was built in the mid-10th century by Armenians, was converted into a mosque in 1579. Near this ancient church, there is also a stone bridge and also ancients hammams! If you want to sweat, get rid of the toxins and the dead skin cells, you have to check out Mazlumoğlu, Muradiye or Topçuoğlu Hammam! Don't forget to get a massage as well!

The second stop should be Kars Kalesi aka Castle of Kars. Not very far away from the Kümbet Mosque, this castle was built in 1153. The outer walls surrounding the city were built in the 12th century and made from basalt masonry. The castle was sadly destroyed many times. Timur in 1386, was rebuilt again in 1579, then In 1606, the castle was destroyed by the Iranian Shah Abbas I, and in 1616 and in 1636 it was restored twice. Later on, the castle was highly damaged due to Russian invasion of 1877-78. It was originally supported by 22 watchtowers, but today the Castle of Kars stands with its grace with its original 7 watchtowers!

After visiting the castle, you can also visit the Kars Museum of Archeology and wander around the streets of Kars. As souvenirs, you can buy the famous Kars Gravier cheese and of course honey from many shops in here. As a traditional dish, you have to eat Kars goose and drink Rakı with snow rather than water!

And last but not least the world famous Ancient Armenian ruins of Ani, capital of medieval Armenia! Just a 45 km away from Kars, you will find lots of ancient churches (Kilise in Turkish) and ruins in here. Some of them even have wall paintings! The most important ones are Kızıl Kilise, Oğuzlu Kilise, Şeytan Kalesi, Doğruyol Kilisesi and Kozluca Kilisesi. Kızıl Kilise is a very well-preserved Armenian church from 13th Century. Inside, you can find lots of carvings and decorations. Oğuzlu Kilise is another Armenian church from 9th Century with carvings, sadly mostly consists of ruins. Şeytan Kalesi is an ancient castle which has the most picturesque scenery. Doğruyol Kilisesi is an old Armenian church from 9th Century, which was converted into a mosque, it also has an ancient minaret. And lastly, Kozluca Kilisesi was an ancient monastery from 10th Century with many carvings and decorations. Ani ruins are definitely worth to visit. Oh, and it's on UNESCO World Heritage List!

If you want to visit Kars, find your inspiration on itinari now!

The author

Alara Benlier

Alara Benlier

My name is Alara Benlier, I am Turkish but currently living in Germany! I share my experiences in Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands!

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