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ARDAHAN

Goose city                                                                                       Population: 17,000

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Travelling between Kars and Artvin you might want to break your journey in the small provincial capital of Ardahan to take a quick look at the dramatic Ardahan Kalesi (castle) on the banks of the river Kura.

Not a great deal is known about it, athough it is believed to have been built by the Georgians and then restored by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in 1540, but it’s big and externally impressive and, unlike most of the castles in this area, can be visited without having to engage in a nerve-racking climb.

Otherwise, Ardahan has a couple of austere stone buildings left over from the late 19th-century Russian occupation, some of them still used by the army.

It also has plenty of hotels if few that you’d want to stay in.

Eating options are more encouraging with a flashy new ocakbaşı just up the road from the Büyük Ardahan Oteli. In the winter locals feast on roast goose (kaz) as in nearby Kars.

There's a small and very basic ski resort (Yalnızcam (Lone Pine) Kayak Merkezi) nearby.

Sleeping

Both Ardahan's best hotels are on the road leading out of town towards Kars.

Büyük Ardahan Oteli

Until recently, this was Ardahan's best hotel which wasn't saying much. It's a bit of a period piece with a sprawling reception-lounge leading to rooms that are large but decorated in an oh-so-antiquated style. Beds have been given new mattresses and covers but the rest of the furnishings are very 1970s, as are the bathrooms, designed, seemingly, by someone who has never used one. 

Breakfast is in a top-floor room designed for wedding receptions - glittery bows on the backs of the seats that sit oddly with an absence of Nescafe.

Quibbles aside, service is very willing and the beds comfortable. Avoid the set dinner menus. Pay no attention at all to the advertised three stars...

Tel: 0478-211 6498

Kafkas Arı Otel

Opened in late 2011, this hotel obviously aims to give th Büyük Ardahan a run for its money and almost certainly will if only on the grounds of newness. The big ground-floor breakfast room will certainly look more enticing to the average foreign visitor.

Tel: 0478-211 3680

Eating

Ahsen Pastane, Cafe & Restaurant

Ardahan's gilded youth gather upstairs in this mix-and-match eatery that, from the outside, looks as if it's just a cake shop. Good place to while away a few hours in between buses.

Transport info

Buses to Şavşat, Artvin and Rize leave from the small Köprübaşı terminal on the opposite side of the bridge to Ardahan Castle, opposite the Aziziye Kışla (barracks). 

Those to and from Kars depart from a second small terminal across the other side of town.

There is actually an otogar although you'll probably never go near it!

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