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 Erzurum - TurkeyThe city of Erzurum is the largest of Eastern Anatolia. Its name originates from Ars-er-Rum (the land of the Romans) as the Seljuks called after they conquered the Byzantines. The severe climate and sparse landscape make some visitors say that in Erzurum, one has the impression that winter has never gone. Erzurum has really two faces. On the one hand there is the city of the God-fearing conservative Muslims, and on the other hand, there is the modern open and airy city, with wide tree-lined boulevards and university buildings, lying in the midst of the vast surrounding steppe. Ancient Erzurum offers some interesting examples of Seljuk architecture. Most important are the Yakutiye Medresesi, which houses now the ethnographical museum, the Çifte Minareli Medrese (Twin Minaret Seminary), and Üç Kümbetler (Three Tombs). The Yakutiye Seminary was a Mongol theological seminary and dates back from 1310. Now it houses the Turkish-Islamic Arts & Ethnography Museum. The Seljuk Twin Minaret Seminary dates from the 13th century but was never completed due to the Mongolian invasion. A panel next to the entrance of the seminary bears the double-headed Seljuk Eagle. The form of the Üç Kümbetler (Three Tombs) is a reminder of the nomad tents of Central Asia. Very typical to Erzurum are the many women dressed in the black chador. The citadel, Erzurum Kalesi, was originally erected by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in the 5th Century AD. Erzurum's Great Mosque or Ulu Cami dates from 1179.

After all this sightseeing, a nice dinner accompanied by a beer, wine or raki would be more than welcome. Unfortunately, this can be a problem in Erzurum. The Güzelyurt Restaurant is then the place to be. The mantarlı güveç (stew with mushrooms) with a cold beer or rakı is a delight. Talking about food, don't leave Erzurum without trying the local specialty, the famous cağ kebabı.  In addition to the city's own highlights, Erzurum is also a good starting point for discovering the valleys of Georgian Turkey

I have been in Erzurum in 1992, 1997, and 2003 as part of different tours through Central and Eastern Anatolia. Each time, we stayed at Hotel Polat (Tel: +(90) 235 03 63 - 235 03 64 - 235 03 65, Fax: (0442) 234 45 98 Kazım Karabekir Caddesi No: 4). In 2003 it was a completely renovated and very comfortable and affordable place to stay.


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