Kars | A Few Days In Kars Turkey
And Visiting The Ancient Ruins Of Ani
Travelling From Hopa To Kars In Far Eastern Turkey
I am not sure what I expected on this journey but we travelled through the most spectacular countryside, towering mountains and deep gorges with rushing rivers. We climbed to nearly 2500 metres and crossed alpine meadows with nomadic beekeepers tending their hives.
This bus ride was one of the highlights of our journey so far.
The Turks are putting serious money into roads and dams in this relatively remote corner of Turkey. We were awestruck by the sheer scale of the engineering feats going on with roads perched on the side of mountains connected tunnel after tunnel. A series of dams have been built to catch the snow melt and create Hydro-Power.
We stopped along the way for a very tasty chicken kebap and then 7 hours later pulled into the bus station in Kars.
A lovely city on the Eastern Anatolian Plain
Kars is the highest city in Turkey and sits on a high plateau in North Eastern Turkey.
We were primarily in Kars to catch the Dogu Express to Ankara and we were interested in seeing the nearby ancient ruins of Ani. We were only there for 2 full days.
We really liked Kars and would have happily spent a week there. The people were incredibly friendly, hospitable and very curious about us. Many of them did not know where Australia was and if they did they were amazed that we would be in Kars.
We had read Kars was very conservative, one of our travelling friends was told that she would have to cover her hair and wear long sleeves and pants (She was told this before leaving Australia). What we found was very different, the youth were dressed very similarly to the youth of Sydney or Melbourne with the older generation being more conservative. To us it seemed very much a choice as to how people dressed.
We ventured out to the ancient ruins of Ani on a minibus.
Ani was once the capital of Armenia rivalling Constantinople in power & wealth and an important stop on the silk route. Ani was fought over by multiple armies including the Byzantine, Persians and Mongols (those Mongols were everywhere) and was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1319.
Today what is left of Ani sits on a vast empty plain with Mt Ararat looming in the distance.
On another day we wandered up to the Kars castle which offered spectacular views over the town and across the plain. While we were up there the midday call to pray started from all the mosques across the city – it sounded amazing.
We ate some good food (although by now we were getting. Little tired of meat cooked on a stick served with tomato, cucumber and white cheese) drank tons of tea and even found a shop selling beer and wine.
Then at midnight on Sunday we boarded the Dogu Express for the 30 hour 1310 km trip to Ankara.
For Information on Travelling In Turkey Read Our Turkey Travel Guide