Kars

January 2019

After spending New Year’s Eve in Istanbul, we headed out to the far north eastern corner of Turkey to the city of Kars and the ruins of Ani. It was a cold few days but stunning to explore this region whilst coated in snow.

The city of Kars.

The city of Kars.

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With temperatures dropping to -16ºc, there was no chance of an ice cream.

With temperatures dropping to -16ºc, there was no chance of an ice cream.

The ruins of Ani are just to the east of Kars, along the border with Armenia. A once-great medieval city known as "the city of a thousand and one churches”.

The ruins of Ani are just to the east of Kars, along the border with Armenia. A once-great medieval city known as "the city of a thousand and one churches”.

At its height, Ani was one of the biggest cities in the world, with a population of about 100,000.

At its height, Ani was one of the biggest cities in the world, with a population of about 100,000.

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Ani was at the meeting point of various trade routes and its many  religious buildings , palaces and forts were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.

Ani was at the meeting point of various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces and forts were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world.

The cliffs and valleys all around the Ani plateau are riddled with hundreds of caves that served as dwellings, animal shelters and churches back in the day.

The cliffs and valleys all around the Ani plateau are riddled with hundreds of caves that served as dwellings, animal shelters and churches back in the day.

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Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236 and devastated in a 1319 earthquake, after which it was reduced to a village and gradually abandoned by the seventeenth century.

Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236 and devastated in a 1319 earthquake, after which it was reduced to a village and gradually abandoned by the seventeenth century.

The  Akhurian River  that divides Turkey and Armenia.

The Akhurian River that divides Turkey and Armenia.

From Ani we headed up to Lake Çıldır, which had only frozen over a few days ago.

From Ani we headed up to Lake Çıldır, which had only frozen over a few days ago.

Today’s lunch menu, caught from a hole in the frozen lake’s surface.

Today’s lunch menu, caught from a hole in the frozen lake’s surface.

After lunch the chef took us on a nerve-wracking ride across the creaking ice.

After lunch the chef took us on a nerve-wracking ride across the creaking ice.

Kars, Ani, Lake Çıldır and Sarıkamış where we went skiing for a day.

Kars, Ani, Lake Çıldır and Sarıkamış where we went skiing for a day.

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