ERZURUM: THE CITY ABOVE THE CLOUDS
In 2011, New York Times included Erzurum to its list of popular tourism destinations of that year. So on my way to Erzurum, I was very excited. Because I knew very well that Erzurum is not popular tourism destination of Turkey but New York Times still included this beautiful city to its list. I thought to myself there must be some kind of hidden beauty in this city, which provoked my excitement.
Read Before You Go!
Famous Russian Writer described Erzurum very well at his book “Journey to Arzrum”. In historical districts you can still see historical fountains, curved streets, Erzurum Castle and graves as he described 150 years ago. It’s like time travelling!
Places to See in Erzurum!
There are lots of interesting things to see both in city center and surrounding districts. In surrounding districts, environment is breathtaking! I strongly advise you to see Tortum Waterfalls, Yedigöller, and Hasankale springs. In historical district, everything pretty much located closely to each other and they survived back from Seljuk and Byzantium times. You can find details of some of the attractions in the center below.
Twin Minaret Madrasa
This Madrasa (School), was built by the daughter of Seljuq Sultan Kaykubat. XIII and is one the finest example of Seljuq architecture. You have hard time on believing that building with such an amazing architecture work and details was just some kind of school centuries ago!
26 meters tall two fluted minarets are covered with beautiful tiles, which never fails to impress anyone. According to our local travel guide, real door of the madrasa, which covered with priceless artwork, was stolen during Russian invasion and now it is kept in Leningrad Museum.
Rüstem Paşa Bazaar
It was built by Rustem Pasha, grand vizier of Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent. In this bazaar, you can find jewelries and rosaries made from oltu stone (jet), which only exist in Erzurum and Russia. This stone takes away the negative energies and the more you use it, the more it gets shinier.
Erzurum Castle was built by the Byzantines in the first half of the fifth century after Christ . Clock Tower which was originally built as a minaret to the castle is one of the symbols of the city. Unfortunately, the original clock was stolen during the Russian occupation. The inscription on the castle has been largely destroyed .
Local Erzurum Houses
Local Erzurum Houses is museum and a restaurant where you can taste food of Erzurum and see architecture of the old houses. Beforehand they were former houses where local people lived. So nothing is fiction! Houses were also decorated with old furniture and objects used decades ago.
Upstairs of this house, there is a place which you can taste local tea and listen to local music. When you are sipping your tea and listening to local music, you will feel as though you are their guest- not as tourist.
ERZURUM FOOD GUIDE
Erzurum is very famous all over Turkey with its special“Cağ Kebab”. It is exclusively made with Lamb. Overall logic is similar to rotating kebab but servings are cut away with iron stick and cooked again. Result is unbelievable. I have to say, it is one of the best meat I have ever tasted in my life.
You can watch whole process from here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZMlRQu7fLk
If you think Erzurum cuisine is all about kebab, you are certainly wrong. Another famous thing to eat in Erzurum is “Kadayıf Dolması”. It is a dessert made with kadayıf (kind of very thin noodles) and pistachios. Although it is delicious, it is little bit of too sweet for my taste.
SYMBOL OF ERZURUM: TWO HEADED EAGLE
Another important detail that catch your eye in Erzurum is the double-headed eagle symbol. So I explored the meaning immediately. Double-headed eagle motif is considered to be protective spirit in the Central Asian Turks. I understand double-headed eagle is the thing that protect Erzurum so far...
It is a pity that I could only stayed 2 days in beautiful city protected by double headed eagles. But I really want to come back here again in winter tos tay in famous ski resorts, taste more of a delicious food and see surrounding districts. I also reccomend you to explore this beautiful city which is only 1-5 hour flight away from Istanbul. I am sure, you will want to come back, just like I do :)