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A luxury hotel in the unluxurious city of Kars comes as a welcome respite for the weary eastern traveller. The building is a tastefully redecorated Kars townhouse and the soft white minimal bedrooms are inviting in the deepest snow.
It’s the place where Orhan Pamuk set his grim novel ‘Snow’. And it was long dismissed as a Cold War frontier town. But have we been missing something? A new book reveals that, beyond the bleakness, the city of Kars – and the whole northeastern corner of Turkey – is an architectural historian’s treasure trove.
Winters are fierce – minus 30°c is common. But there is bounty, too. Beyond the city of Kars (the name rhymes with sparse) is a rich land of plains and mountains, lakes and rivers, great flocks of sheep and herds of wild horses, a land flowing with milk and honey. It has long been border country, a conduit for invading armies, traders’ caravans and nomads seeking pastures. Waves of Armenians, Georgians, Ottomans and latterly Russians have all left their mark. Architecture in Northeastern Anatolia, a fascinating new book of photographs by Ali Konyalı, unveils a wealth of architectural treasures, not only in Kars itself, but to north, south, east and west, from steppe to rainforest. There are medieval castles, soaring domed cathedrals, wedding-cake townhouses, even sturdy plantation mansions complete with tea gardens.
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