Dating from at least 1153, Kars Castle' s hefty, dark-stone walls crown the craggy ridge that dominates the city-centre's northern edge, fronted by a series of historic mosques. Climbing the ramparts offers a series of sweeping views, especially memorable before sunset, but there is no museum and relatively little to see inside beyond gazing at the panorama from the Kale Cafe.
Fun for its legend, if not for its architecture, is the tiny tomb of Celal Baba who had his head sliced off while trying to defend the castle from Mongol attack in 1239. Unperturbed by such a flesh wound, Celal picked up his own severed head and kept on fighting. Or so the story goes.
The fortress was demolished in 1386 by Central Asian conqueror Tamerlane (Timur) and rebuilt several times over the following centuries. During and after WWI, the fortress was once again the scene of bitter fighting.