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Introducing Kars

This is the city that provided the setting for Orhan Pamuk’s prize-winning novel Kar (Snow). Kars always elicits strong reactions – negative or positive, depending on your perspective. Some travellers loathe it (‘muddy’, ‘lethargic’, ‘stark’, ‘sad’); others scratch below the surface and realise that Kars is high on personality and atmosphere. All right, it’s a bit nibbled around the edges, but when the sun shines, the stately, pastel-coloured stone buildings look almost chirpy, giving the town the look of a Little Russia in Turkey. And the mix of influences – Azeri, Turkmen, Kurdish, Turkish and Russian – adds to the appeal.

The main reason for coming to Kars is usually to visit Ani, but don’t forget to enjoy the delicious local bal (honey) and peynir (cheese); these will certainly keep your spirits high. When the border with Armenia reopens, which is bound to happen one of these days, business with nearby Gyumri will thrive.