Offering experiences of the Katerina Chalet, a “wooden marvel” built without using a single nail; a journey along pine forests and bird tweets to the top of the Sarıkamış mountain using the best chair lift system in Turkey; exquisite opportunities for bird-watching around Kuyucuk Lake; a visit to Ani Antique City dating back to the Medieval Era, and finally the city center nestling some of the most elegant pieces of Ottoman and Seljuk architecture, Kars is positioning itself a global candidate to become a popular tourist destination. The Advertising and Promotion Study Group, which was established by local stakeholders within the context of the UN Joint Programme on Alliances for Cultural Tourism in Eastern Anatolia, organized a “Kars Promotional Tour” in June with a view to presenting Kars’s potential in culture, nature and winter tourism to Turkey’s leading tourism agencies and the media. Sarıkamış, Kuyucuk and Çıldır Lakes, Kars city center and Ani Antique City were among the tourist attractions visited during the tour. Participants agreed that Kars’s rich cultural and natural assets equip the city with the undisputed potential to become attract tourists not only from Turkey but also worldwide.
The group consisting of 40 people from tourism agencies around Turkey and journalists from the national press began their visit to Sarıkamış, which is gaining more and more significance as a hot-spot for winter tourism. Climbing to the top of Sarıkamış, where the scene under the shining June sun was as inviting as its snowy atmosphere in the winter, the participants received detailed information about the mountain and its ski facilities. The group then visited the Katerina Chalet, a wooden chalet built by the Russian Tsar Nicholas II as his command headquarters, is now becoming planned to become an important part of Sarıkamış tourism as a result of private sector investments.
On the second day of the tour, participants visited Kuyucuk Lake, one of the few lakes accommodating a variety of birds in Turkey, and were informed about natural life, bird population, and flora in the Kars-Iğdır region. The participants also found the opportunity to watch birds through special binoculars installed at the edge of the lake. The next stop was to Çıldır Lake, whose fully frozen waters during the winter make it an attractive place for horse-sleighs and fishermen. The participants finally visited the Kars city center hosting some of the most elegant pieces of Seljuk, Ottoman and Russian architecture walking along streets full of historical buildings and stopping by the Kars Museum that exhibits samples of the city’s rich cultural heritage and richness. Kars Culture and Tourism Director Hakan Doğanay and professional tour guide Ali Canip Olgunlu accompanied the group throughout the visit, informing the participants in detail about the history and culture of the city as well as continuing works and planned activities to encourage tourism sector in the city. Moreover, representatives of tourism agencies had the opportunity to visit hotels in the city.
The participants welcomed the third day of the tour in Ani, covered in poppies and daisies. They encountered a unique architectural and cultural richness reflecting the impressive heritage of numerous centuries-long cultures in the antique city, which nestles some of the most beautiful pieces of Medieval architecture.
STUDENTS PROMOTE KARS
Researcher-writer, Turcologist and professional guide Ali Canip Olgunlu, who has gone around every inch of Turkey with domestic and foreign tourists for 21 years, shared the details and specificities of his occupation with young guide candidates studying at the Department of Guiding at Kafkas University Tourism Vocational School on 10 June 2010. Originally from Kars, Ali Canip Olgunlu, gave a seminar titled “Anatolia’s Cultural Heritage and Essentials of Guiding” and talked comprehensively on topics such as the essential features that a guide should possess, what should be avoided and the possible improvements. Over one hundred students actively participated in the seminar by asking questions and providing comments about tourism and guiding.
ANCIENT CITY OF ANİ IS UNDER PROTECTION
"Ani inhabited since Bronze Age until the beginning of New Age, exhibits all the richness and variety of the development of urbanism, architecture and art of Middle Age, is one of the first entrance points of Turks at their arrival to Anatolia on the Silk Road. Furthermore, Ani hosts the first ever Turkish Mosque in as well as the first Seljuk Tablet” was defined as the cultural importance Ani as one of the results of the second workshop held between 29 May - 2 June in Kars. In addition, a work plan came out as part of the steps being taken towards the establishment of a site management plan for the Ancient City of Ani in the scope of Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia UN Joint Programme.
The meeting was focused on the participatory approach and definition of stakeholders’ role with the full attendance of locals, authorities, NGO’s. The workshop consisted of two parts, the first part was a two days scientific meeting including a visit in the field for the definition of the cultural value of Ani Site. This technical meeting was discussed by the academicians, particularly, members of the Site Management Board of Ani, archaeologists, experts with the effective participation of the Director of Kars Museum. The result and outcomes of this meeting was shared with local participants in a follow-up two days workshop and took its final version. The workshop concluded with a press conference headed by the Deputy Governor of Kars explaining officially that the process of the Management for Ani Site launched. Within this context, he urged everybody to contribute and take responsibility for the management.
The workshop was prepared under the coordination of UNESCO (one of the UN agencies in the joint programme) and the General Directorate of Cultural Assets and Museums of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The workshop’s final outcome was publicly announced through a press conference on June 1st, 2010.
A site management plan entails the protection of the field, benefitting from the socio-economic potential without damaging the area’s cultural and natural assets and developing a vision, identifying targets and defining policies. As part of site management, a locally-owned participatory partnership model should be developed, annual and 5-year decisions should be reviewed and budget and responsibilities need to be outlined.
The first of the series of wokshops took place on 4-9 December 2009 in Kars and Ankara. The workshops aim to guide local stakeholders, national and local organizations and institutions responsible for the preparation of the Ani Site Management Plan.
RESEARCH ON INTANGIBLE CULTURE
Home to numerous cultures and civilizations throughout history, Kars’ rich “intangible cultural heritage” consisting of oral traditions and expressions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and traditional craftsmanship has trickled down from generation to generation. The field research for the mapping of the main intangible cultural assets in Kars Province carried out by Kafkas University with the supervision of Ministry of Culture and Tourism which is expected to contribute to the preparation of the national inventory has recently been completed successfully. Through this research, a significant increase in the quantity and quality of inventory forms for the definition of national intangible cultural heritage inventory in the target area together with use and registration of field research results in the Folklore Documentation and Information Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are also expected.
The research covered 80 villages, and 50 students were involved and trained. Following the completion of the research, Kafkas University presented the collected data comprised of approximately 7000 pages of data transcriptions, 2000 photographs, 260 video recordings. Accordingly a specific joint meeting was held in Ankara UN House; with Ministry of Culture Tourism, Kafkas University and UNJP in order to evaluate the report and the research outcomes. During the meeting, the details of the final report and the realisation of a possible publication on the research were also discussed in the scope of theUN Joint Programme Alliances for Cultural Tourism in Eastern Anatolia.
In this context,a preparatory training was organized on September 8-9, 2009 in Kars where a team of experts from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism realized a seminar to demonstrate how to run a field research to map out the intangible cultural heritage within the province of Kars to the students of Kafkas University.
The research aims to support the identification and safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage in theprovince of Kars. In this respect, measures to ensure the viability of the intangible cultural heritage, including the identification, documentation, research, preservation, enhancement, transmission, particularly through formal and non-formal education, as well as the revitalization of the various aspects of such heritage will be taken. of MoCT are the assumptions.
The United Nations Joint Program “Alliances for Culture Tourism in Eastern Anatolia” (UNJP) aims at developing and enhancing cultural tourism in Kars, contributing to social cohesion and reducing income disparities between the people of Kars and the rest of Turkey. The UNJP is funded by the MDG Achievement Fund entrusted to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) by the Government of Spain, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and United Nations Organisations UNDP, UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization), UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization).