Turkey / Cities and Towns /
Town in northeastern Turkey with 90,000 inhabitants (2004 estimate), at an elevation 1,750 metres above sea level on the Kars River. It is the capital of Kars province with 350,000 inhabitants (2004 estimate).
Kars is the economic and administrative centre of a vast but fairly thinly populated region. The region is dominated by livestock raising. The city's industries include the production of coarse woolens, carpets and felts; leather goods; cheese and processed milk.
Kars lies close to Armenia (80 to the east for a closed border point (road and rail), and 200 km north for an open border point (only road)). Erzurum, 250 km west is the closest large Turkish city (road and rail).
Kars is laid out like a Russian city, a result of 40 years of Russian control. Some of the architecture also belongs to Russia's Belle Epoque style.
The main attraction among Kars' historical buildings is the Church of the apostles built in the 930's by the Armenian king Abbas 1. Today it has been turned into a warehouse. The stone bridge was restored in 1580, but was built centuries before this. The citadel overhanging the river has been rebuilt numerous times, and the present structure was built by the Russians in the late 19th century. An important military station, it is linked by rail and road with the principal Turkish cities.
Early 10th century: Kars becomes the capital of the Armenian kingdom of the Bagratids.
Late 10th century: Ani becomes new capital, taking away from Kars much of its importance.
Middle of 11th century: Kars and most of the Armenian lands are conquered by the Seljuqs.
1205: Comes under Georgian control.
1387: Attacked by Timur Lenk, but remains under Georgian control.
1514: The region of Kars is conquered by the Ottomans, and Kars is incorporated into the empire.
18th century: Besieged by Persian troops.
1828: Kars is conquered by Russian troops, but reverted to the Ottoman Empire with a peace treaty.
1855: Kars is conquered by Russia during the Crimean War, but just like 27 years earlier a peace treaty brings it back to the Ottoman Empire.
1878: A third Russian conquest leads to a lasting change in Kars' status.
1914: As one of the first actions of the Ottoman army during World War 1, Kars is attacked.
Early 1915: Russian control of Kars is restored.
1921: Kars is transferred back to Turkey.