Kars Information

Kars , Turkey

Kars (Armenian: Կարս Kars; Ottoman Turkish: قارص; [1] is a city in northeast Turkey and the capital of Kars Province. The population of the city is 73,826 as of 2010.

Kars Citadel

The Castle of Kars (Turkish: Kars Kalesi), also known as the Citadel, sits at the top a rocky hill overlooking Kars. Its walls date back to the Bagratuni Armenian period (there is surviving masonry on the north side of the castle) but it probably took on its present form during the thirteenth century when Kars was ruled by the Zak'arid dynasty.

The walls bear crosses in several places, including a khachkar with a building inscription in Armenian on the easternmost tower, so the much repeated statement that Kars castle was built by Ottoman Sultan Murad III during the war with Persia, at the close of the sixteenth century, is inaccurate. However, Murad probably did reconstruct much of the city walls (they are similar to those that the Ottoman army constructed at Ardahan).

By the nineteenth century the citadel had lost most of its defensive purpose and a series of outer fortresses and defensive works were constructed to encircle Kars - this new defensive system proved particularly notable during the Siege of Kars in 1855.

Other historical structures

The Church of the Apostles housed a museum in the 1960s and 70s and was converted to a mosque in 1998.

Below the castle is an Armenian church known as Surb Arak'elots, the Church of the Apostles. Built in the 930s, it has a tetraconch plan (a square with four semicircular apses) surmounted by a spherical dome on a cylindrical drum. On the exterior, the drum of contains bas-relief depictions of twelve figures, usually interpreted as representing the Twelve Apostles. The dome has a conical roof. The church was converted to a mosque in 1579, and then converted into a Russian Orthodox church in the 1880s. The Russians constructed porches in front of the church's 3 entrances, and an elaborate belltower (now demolished) next to the church. The church was used as a warehouse from the 1930s, and it housed a small museum from 1963 until the late 1970s. Then the building was left to itself for about two decades, until it was converted into a mosque in 1998. In the same district of Kars are two other ruined Armenian churches. A Russian church from the 1900s was converted to a mosque in the 1980s after serving as a school gymnasium.
"Taşköprü" (Stone Bridge 1725) over the Kars river.

The "Tashköprü" (Stone Bridge) is a bridge over the Kars river, built in 1725. Close to the bridge are three old bath-houses, none of them operating any longer.

As a settlement at the juncture of Turkish, Georgian, Kurdish, Russian, and Armenian cultures, the buildings of Kars come in a variety of architectural styles. Orhan Pamuk in the novel Snow, which takes place in Kars, makes repeated references to "the Russian houses", built "in a Baltic style", whose like cannot be seen anywhere else in Turkey, and deplores the deteriorating condition of these houses.
Kars in popular culture

    Kars is the setting of the novel Kar (Snow) by Orhan Pamuk.
    Modest Mussorgsky composed the march "The Capture of Kars" to commemorate Russia's victory there in 1855.
    The film Kosmos (Cosmos) by Reha Erdem was filmed in and around Kars.

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