Thursday, November 17, 2011

Erzurum: The Historical City of Turkey

Erzurum is the Turkish city of Southern Anatolia. Its name has originated from the Arabic language words “Arz-E-Room” meaning, the Land of Romans. This city was famous in the Roman as well as Persian reign and was given the name by the Turkish emperors who conquered this city in the year 1071 during the war of Manzikert.

According to the census of year 2000 the total population of the city is around 361,235. According to the non government surveys the current population of the city is around 367,250. It must be noted that Erzurum is the largest city of the Erzurum Province which in fact is the biggest province of Southern Anatolia. The city is situated 1757 meters (5766 feet) above sea level and has the code word ‘The Rock’ according to the NATO forces. It also served as the Air Base for the NATO forces during the cold war years.

Early History:

In the older days this city was named ‘Karin’ which became the capital city of Armenia during the reign of Artaxiad and Arsacid Kings. In the year 387AD this city ws taken over by the Romans who built the city from scratch and stabilized it and changed the city name to ‘Theodosiopolis’ after the Great emperor Theodosius. Because of its sensitive location and strong army base this city was a cause of tensions between the Byzantines and Persians. King Anastasius I and King Justinian I built this city once again and constructed strong walls and fort around the city for the sake of more safety.

Middle Ages:

Theodosiopolis was conquered by the Umayyad general Abdallah ibn Abd al-Malik in 700/701 AD and after that It became the capital of Emirates of Qaliqala and was used as a base for raids into Byzantine territory. As the power of the Caliphate declined, and the resurgence of Byzantium began, the local Armenian leaders preferred the city to be under the control of powerless Muslim emirs rather than powerful Byzantine emperors.

In 931, and again in 949, Byzantine forces led by Theophilos Kourkouas, grandfather of the future emperor John I Tzimiskes, captured Theodosiopolis. Its Arab population was expelled and the city was resettled by Greeks and Armenians. Finally, in 1514 the region was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, so called Selim the Inflexible. During the Ottoman Empire reign, the city served as the main base of Ottoman military power in the region. It was the capital of the eyalet of Erzurum.

Early in the seventeenth century, the province was threatened by Safavid Persia and a revolt by the province governor Abaza Mehmed Pasha. 
This revolt was combined with Jelali Revolts (the uprising of the provincial musketeers called the Jelali), backed by Iran and lasted until 1628.

Modern History:
The city was captured by the Russian Empire in 1829, but was returned to the Ottoman Empire under the Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne), in September of the same year. During the Crimean war Russian forces approached Erzurum, but did not attack it because of insufficient forces and the continuing Russian siege of Kars. The city was unsuccessfully attacked (Battle of Erzurum (1877)) by a Russian army in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. However in February 1878, the Russians took Erzurum without resistance, but it was again returned to the Ottoman Empire, this time under the Treaty of San Stefano. There were massacres of the city's Armenian citizens during the Hamidian massacres (1894–1896). The city was the location of one of the key battles in the Caucasus Campaign of World War I between the armies of the Ottoman and Russian Empires. This resulted in the capture of Erzurum by Russian forces under the command of Grand Duke Nicholas and Nikolai Nikolaevich Yudenich on February 16, 1916.

By the time the Russians entered in 1916, barely a hundred Armenians were left alive, out of a prewar population of 20,000; it is estimated that approximately 90% of the Armenians of Erzurum province had perished. By 1919, according to the American Committee for Relief in the Near East, Erzurum was left completely devoid of its Armenian population. It is reported in Turkish sources that some Armenian troops serving in the Russian army carried out revenge killings in the area of Erzurum, after having witnessed the destruction that had been wrought against the Armenian population.


One of the largest source of income and economic activity in the city has been Atatürk University. Established in 1950, it is one of the largest universities in Turkey, having more than forty-thousand students. Tourism also provides a portion of the province's revenues. The city is a popular destination in Turkey for winter sports at the nearby Palandöken Mountain.
Erzurum is notable for the small-scale production of objects crafted from Oltu stone: most are sold as souvenirs and include prayer beads, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, earrings and hairclips.

Little of medieval Erzurum survives beyond scattered individual buildings such as the citadel fortress, and the 13th century Çifte Minareli Medrese (the "Twin Minaret" madrasa).
Six kilometres to the south of the center of Erzurum is an important skiing center on the Palandöken Mountain range. There are several ski runs; the south ski run is 8 km long, while the north ski run is intended for advanced skiers. The summit of Mt. Palandöken, which is called Büyük Ejder (Great Dragon), is at an altitude of 3188 metres. It can be reached with a chair lift which rises until an altitude of 3100 metres.

The main bus station has bus links to most major Turkish cities. Erzurum is also the main railroad endpoint for the Eastern Anatolia region. Erzurum Airport, also used by the Turkish Air Force, has the second longest runway in Turkey. Although the early transport were the animal carts.


One specialty of Erzurum's cuisine is Cağ Kebab. Although this kebab variety is of recent introduction outside its native region, it is rapidly attaining widespread popularity around Turkey.
Kadayıf Dolması is an exquisite dessert made with walnut.

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