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September 18th 2016
Published: September 18th 2016
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KARS. REST DAY 1. 18 September, 2016. 4c at breakfast warming to a beautiful blue sky day. After breakfast drove east with 7 others to the town of Ani, on the Armenian border. An interesting few hours. Ani was first settled in 5000 BC. Its recent history has been turbulent. Its city walls were built in 961-977. It was an Armenian city and its gates open the Silk Road from the west. Its first Cathedral was built in 987 as Eastern Orthodox, the faith of the Armenians, however when the Moslem Seljucks raided in 1064, the captured Cathedral was turned into a Mosque, Fethiya (Victory) Mosque. However the Armenians were prolific builders and another church was constructed to honour St. Gregor, an important Orthodox Saint and priest. This church contains the first murals in Turkey. Built in the 10 century. Another Mosque was constructed in 1071-1072 by the Sultan of the Seljucks, the Great Mosque, was constructed at the entrance to the Silk Road. Built in what was to be known as the Anatolian style, it had commanding views down the Silk Road and the river which is now the border between Turkey and Armenia. Watch towers by both countries are set up along the border. Border crossings here are prohibited and recently someone was shot for making an attempt. Kars and Ani were under the control of the Russians from 1875 for about 50 years. Their architectural style dominates Kars. An Orthodox church the Russians built was converted to a Mosque when the Ottomans took control in about 1925. It has since fallen empty. This region has a fascinating history of continuing disputes which exist up until today, and which seem apart of the current population's lives.

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