Write : H. Mert Kaya - Photos: Nursen Seval - Akgün Akova
Kars, the key province that connects the Caucasus to the geography of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Black Sea is a strong nominee for being a center of attraction, due to its rich history and tourism potential.
Kars, which has been a place of settlement since prehistoric period, has managed to become a center of attraction in the region, more than once. It is a city, which rises from its own ashes, like the mythological Phoenix. Historical trade routes that lead into central Europe through the Black Sea, the Danube and Volga rivers, used to meet in Kars. In time however, due to changing of trade routes, wars and migrations, the golden days of Kars were dimmed. However, if the historical assets and the magnificent nature of the city are promoted within the frame of a long term program, it is possible for Kars to become the region’s center of attraction once again.
When the project is completed, a trade route connecting the Far East and Turkic Republics to Europe, extending from Beijing to London, will be established. Of this 124 km long railroad, 92 km of it will be constructed in Turkey, and 32 km of it will be constructed in Georgia. With the completion of this project in 2010, Ardahan and Iğdır, which have parted from Kars and became separate provinces, as well as Kars and its nearby vicinity, will gain economic momentum. In addition to this project, the Nakhichevan – Kars Railroad project has reached its final stages. When the project is completed, the railroad will connect Kars to Iran via Nakhichevan, which will increase the province’s tourism and industry potential.
RICH IN ARCHITECTURE
The province of Kars itself is like an open air museum, displaying specific architectural traits. As well as the buildings carrying Seljuk and Ottoman traces, the presence of Russian and Armenian architectural components make Kars very wealthy from an architectural and cultural point of view. However, the harsh weather conditions of Eastern Anatolia necessitate periodical maintenance of these buildings. The governorship of Kars has given full support for the past 49 years to entrepreneurs willing to renovate and rent out these buildings. These buildings are remarkable assets, particularly for boutique hotel management that target winter, nature and culture tourism.
Kars owes a lot to the cultural treasures of the civilizations that reigned in Anatolia. For instance, the Ani ruins contain architectural traces of Islam and Christianity that are very important from an archaeological, scientific and civilizational perspective. Kars Castle in the town center, mosques, the Madrasah and rustic buildings add to this wealth. The Kars museum must also be visited. Investments in culture tourism awaits the attention of entrepreneurs, especially businessmen who have originated from Kars and are active in national and international business circles.
WINTER IN SARIKAMIŞ
Sarıkamış Ski Resort, a picturesque resort adorned with the pine trees of Mount Çamurlu, is known for being a good place for fresh daily snowfall. The resort, which has five 12 km slopes, is situated on a plateau encircled by Mount Çamurlu, Mount Balıklı and Cıbıltepe, with altitudes varying between 2,200 and 2,900 meters.
With mention of Kars, one immediately recalls its delicious cheese. Although Kars cheese is well deserving of its fame, it is compulsory to educate and to support the local producers to increase production in general, so that they may increase their exports and achieve international standards. Kars is also known for goose breeding. The geese bred in natural conditions, fed in the region’s green meadows on rich plantations open up a great opportunity for development of industry in the province. Other sectors that are up and running are the textile, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Exporting processed goose liver and goose meat to EU and Far Eastern countries can be an attractive opportunity. The climate and natural conditions of the region are suitable for cattle breeding, too. However, compared to the past, a serious decrease in cattle breeding has been witnessed. Breeders need to be educated and supported in the transition from traditional methods to modern methods. In Kars, apiculture is another important activity. Kars is very suitable for apiculture, with its rich flora. The aroma and taste of Kars honey proves this to be true.