In the north-east of Turkey you will find a province called Kars whose capital is a town of the same name. It is the administrative centre for about 90.000 inhabitants. Because it is only 45 kilometres to the Armenian border and about 65 kilometres to the border of Georgia,many soldiers are on duty in the town.
Kars is about 1760 metres above sea level.
The Citadel of Kars
During the 10th century A.D. Kars was the capital of a kingdom ruled by the Bagratides, a people originally from Armenia. During the 11th century Kars was destroyed by the Seldjuks, during the 13th century by the Mongolians, and later was conquered and destroyed by Tamerlan. Kars and the surrounding areas were then conquered by the Ottomans in 1514.
The citadel, built in 1152, was strong enough through the following centuries to withstand sieges by the Persian Nadir Schah (1731) and the Russian troops (1807). Much later, on 23rd of June 1828, the town had to accept that the war had been lost and it needed to surrender. The Russian general, Field Marshal Iwan Paskewitsch won the battle for the town and about 11.000 soldiers were imprisoned. Later, during the next war, better known as the Crimean War, the town again had to surrender because of serious illnesses like cholera and the lack of enough food. This led to its capitulation in November 1855. During the Turkish - Russian War of 1877 / 78, the fortress was conquered again during the Battle of Kars was later ceded to the Russians after the peace congress of San Stefano.
As a meeting point of Armenian, Georgian, Greek, Russian and Turkish culture, the town combines a huge number of architectural designs.
Kars Kalesi was first constructed in 1152 by the Seldjuks, destroyed in 1386 by Tamerlan and in 1579 was rebuilt on the plateau high above the town by Sultan Murad III and again by Lala Mustafa Pasa. The existing structure dates from 1855. At the bottom of the plateau you will find the former Cathedral of Kars, the "Church of the Apostle (in Armenian "Surb Arakéloc")", which was built between 932 and 937 by the King of Bagratides, Abas I.