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Lovers of architecture and history will be in paradise in Erzurum, where fantastic Seljuk, Saltuk, Mongol and Ottoman mosques and medreses (seminaries) line the main drag. The surrounding mountains and steppe form a heavenly backdrop to the jumble of billboards and minarets.

Erzurum is not a city resting on its considerable historically significant laurels; the vibrant life coursing along its shopping-centre-lined streets has earned it a reputation as a modern metropolis and an eastern Turkish hub. Although it's one of Turkey's most pious, conservative cities, it has two universities with more than 100,000 students who add a relaxed buzz to the pavements and cafes. And come winter, the nearby high-octane Palandöken ski resort has a thriving nightlife.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Erzurum.