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In 2009 the Istanbul gallery Milli Reasürans staged a stunning exhibition of photographs of Turkey’s northeast by Ali Konyalı. As with all Milli Reasürans shows, the exhibition was marked by the publication of an equally remarkable book, Architecture in Northeastern Anatolia, edited by Amelie Edgü – the highlights provided rich pickings Cornucopia 42’s 55-page Great Northeast report
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.
For the English-speaking community of Istanbul the suggestion of aqueduct-hunting in Thrace strikes fear into the hearts of all but the foolhardy. Relentlessly cheerful, Prof James Crow of Edinburgh University would laugh off each misadventure and forge onward.
Robert Ousterhout is agog at the remarkable Georgian churches of the Tao-Klarjeti, the two medieval Georgian principalities between Kars and the Kaçkars
Leo Gough grew up in the hothouse atmosphere of Cold War Ankara, where his father was director of the British Institute of Archaeology. He recalls tales of derring-do from the larger-than-life visitors and scholars who passed through the institute’s doors
Kate Clow, pioneering waymarker and author of two walking guides to the Taurus Mountains, has now created a guide to trekking in the Kaçkars. Here she describes four breathtaking one-day walks.
By whatever name it is known – whether Karataş Yayla (Black Rock Pasture) or ÇaGrankaya (Singing Rock) – this spur of the Kaçkars is full of drama. Andrew Byfield battled rain and fog to reach its riches
The work of Feyhaman Duran and his contemporaries, once dismissed as unfashionably figurative, is now attracting renewed interest. A recent exhibition at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Istanbul celebrated their work. Berrin Torolsan selects some of her favourites
High in the apparently empty Kaçkars, the way of life is as old as the hills. Michael Hornsby joins in the fun at a village festival in remote summer pastures. Photographs by Giulio Rubino
Norman Stone unravels the history of Kars
Unlocking the door to the private world of Feyhaman and Güzin Duran, by Maureen Freely
The Turkic Uighurs of Western China have long chafed under Communist Chinese rule. Christian Tyler meets their formidable figurehead, Rebiya Kadeer, who spent five years in prison for protesting against her people’s treatment and now carries on her fight for their freedom from Washington
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