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Erzurum

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Seljuk-built Twin Minarets Madrasah—the iconic building of the city—in the morning

Erzurum is a city in Eastern Anatolia, and is the hub for visiting eastern Turkey.

Understand[edit]

Erzurum is the highest major city (population: 360,000 according to 2000 census) in Turkey, situated at an altitude of about 2000 metres above sea level. Combined with the distance to the sea, this makes the climate of this area the harshest in Turkey with the temperatures in long, heavily snowy, and bitterly cold winter regularly below -30°C at nights (and no warmer than -15°C during the day). Wet summers in Erzurum are around 30°C in the day time and chilly at night, although temperatures dropping down to freezing point during summer are becoming rarer and rarer each year, probably with the advance of global warming.

The city hosted the international 2011 Winter Universiade (“university olympic games”) [1].

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Direct trains (the Doğu Express) run daily from Ankara to Erzurum, departing at 6 pm and arriving 20 hours later around 2 pm. This train continues to Kars, taking another 4 hours. The return train leaves Kars around 8 am and Erzurum around noon. There are couchettes, a sleeping car and a buffet. The main stops along the route are Kayseri, Sivas, and Erzincan: for details see Turkish railways website at tcdd.gov.tr. Note that Ankara railway station is partially closed for rebuilding until 2018, with bus replacements to Irmak 60 km east of the city, and altered timings. A new high-speed line is also under construction from Ankara towards Erzurum and Kars. This will greatly reduce journey times when the first section to Sivas opens, perhaps in 2018.

By plane[edit]

  • Erzurum Airport 10 km from city center.

Daily flight from Istanbul (by Onur Air, Turkish Airlines, and Pegasus) and direct flights from Izmir, Ankara, and Antalya.

In winter, there are also flights from Russia, and Ukraine.

By bus[edit]

Most bus companies stop at the Erzurum Otogar, which is about 1 km away from the main city centre. It is a walkable distance to town, or you can take the public bus to/from the Otogar.

Buses from Trabzon in the north, on the Black Sea coast, take around 4 and a half hours and cost 30 TL (but, if you don't look too much like a tourist, it might be possible to bargain it down to 25 TL), while buses from Diyarbakır in the south take a little more than 6 hours and have the standard fare of 50 TL, which might be bargainable down to 35 TL.

Get around[edit]

Erzurum is a pretty small city, and you can cover most of it by foot, unless you are thinking of heading out and around the city, in which case, most public buses and taxis will be able to get you there.

See[edit]

Citadel of Erzurum - The Citadel of Erzurum is situated on the top of the hill in the middle of the city centre. The YTL 3 admission fee allows you to explore the grounds as well as to climb up the minaret/clock tower, as well as visit the citadel masjid. It's worth the effort to climb up the clock tower as it gives you a commanding view of the city as well as the surrounding mountains.

Do[edit]

  • Ski in Palandöken ski resort, which is only 10 minutes away from city centre by public bus.
  • In summer you can hike up to the top of Palandöken (3,150 m.a.s.l.) for fantastic views. There is a road (first paved up to some of the hotels, then a dirt road) up to the very top, but it is possible to take shortcuts when hiking. There are no marked trails, but the directions are clearly visible. It is good to start early to allow time to enjoy the views.

Buy[edit]

  • Oltutaşı (Oltu stone in Turkish) — This is a kind of amber which is extracted only in Oltu, a town near Erzurum. It is mostly chipped into jewelry, with different levels of quality and correspondingly different levels of prices. Look around in Erzurum. Taşhan is the best place to shop for Oltutaşı and it is also an interesting traditional building.
  • Silver — In jewelry shops in the center or on Taşmağazalar street, fancy authentic silver jewelry can be found.

Eat[edit]

Stockbreeding is widespread in the region, and there is little chance to cultivate vegetables and fruits in this high and cold land. Therefore traditional food is mainly dependent on meat.

The city is also known for different types of local cheese that is hard to find elsewhere in Turkey.

Kadayıf dolması — A must-taste local dessert of Erzurum cuisine. It is made from kadayıf, a sweet pastry that is lots of thin fibres of flour put together. Walnuts are stuffed in the kadayıf and the stuffed kadayıf is first fried, then cooled and finally ready to serve with addition of a sweet sauce. It may be sampled in virtually every restaurant in Erzurum, but some of the best can be tried in a specialist restaurant, Muammer Usta

Döner — Typical Turkish döner is really made well and should be tasted in Hacı Baba Restaurant [2] [dead link] on Emniyet Caddesi.

Cağ kebap — local kebab of Erzurum, that you can have in Gelgor Restaurant. It is made with lamb meat and the preparation is like döner, but unlike döner, instead of a vertical axis, the meat is cooked on a horizontal axis.

Güzelyurt Restaurant — A very nice old restaurant right in the city center on Cumhuriyet Caddesi. You can have a good Turkish meal with some Turkish raki and enjoy the atmosphere. [3]

Hmmburger — A very tiny small hamburger place. Hamburgers are really delicious.

Coffeebox — A local coffeeshop, with various pasta options and nice coffees.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • Renaissance Polat Hotel. Four stars hotel. 220 rooms. TV satellite. +90 442 232 00 10
  • Yeni Cinar Hotel (close to Istasyon Caddesi). Clean, small rooms with enough light. Staff doesn't speak English but is helpful. Close to the city center. 30 TL per night for a single room (huge, double bed) in May 2010. 50 TL for a double ensuite (September 2013).
  • Arı Otel (close to Yeni Çınar Hotel). Rooms have shower inside but the toilets are shared out on the corridor. Friendly and helpful staff but they can't speak English. Double rooms for 60 TL; haggling down to 45 TL possible.

Connect[edit]

The area code of Erzurum is 442. Dial +90 442 when calling from out of Turkey.

Go next[edit]

  • Dogubeyazit, Kars, Sarıkamış, Van, and Iran are nearby and further eastward destinations. Buses run by Star Ağrı Doğubeyazıt heading for Dogubeyazit (25 TL, 4 hrs) depart daily at noon, 3PM, and 5PM on weekdays and at noon, and 3PM in weekends.
  • If the Seljuk sights in Erzurum did not satisfy you sufficiently, you may try Divrigi with its UNESCO World Heritage site on your way to west. Two daily trains from Erzurum call at town's station.
  • Trabzon, to the north of the Pontic Mountains is the main sea- and airport in eastern Turkey.
Routes through Erzurum
AmasyaErzincan  W Tabliczka E80.svg E  DogubeyazitEnds at TurkeyTurkish-IranIrani border


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