Erzurum, the biggest city of the Eastern Anatolian Region, is a very ancient settlement place. Established at the skirts of the Palandoken Mountains, the city has gained importance in the field of winter tourism during the recent years. Erzurum, having numerous historical works, has got a rich potential for tourism.
Erzurum is established on a higher plateau in comparison to the central and west regions of Turkey. So, severe terrestrial climate of the Eastern Anatolian region is prevalent in the region. The annual average temperature of the city is about 6 degree.
The establishment date of Erzurum is assumed to be 4900 B.C. The region including Erzurum had been reigned by several tribes and civilizations like Urinians, Kimmers, Scythians, Meds, Persians, Romans, Sassanids, Arabians, Seljuqs, Byzantines, Mongols, Ilkhanids and Safevids throughout the history. The city and its vicinity had been conquered by the Ottomans in 1514 and they were dominant until 1923, when the Republic of Turkey was founded.
At the beginning of the national strife, the Congress of Erzurum was assembled in Erzurum on 23 July 1919, where the foundations of national unity and independence movement were laid.
The districts of Erzurum are; Askale, Cat, Hinis, Horasan, Ilica, İspir, Karacoban, Karayazi, Koprukoy, Narman, Oltu, Olur, Pasinler, Pazaryolu, Senkaya, Tekman, Tortum and Uzundere.
Pasinler district had been conquered by the Byzantine in IVth century, by the Arabians in 615 and by the Turks in 1084.
The thermal resort in Pasinler, which has the capacity of 3702 people and has the water temperature of 39 degree, provide the patients coming from out of the district with the accommodation service.
The establishment of Koprukoy, which means the village established across the bridge, dates back to very old times.
Koprukoy (Deli Cermik) is known with its spa water and the temperature of the thermal water is 26 degree.
The district has a history of about 3000 years.
Tortum Lake and Tortum Waterfall within the district attracts several local and foreign tourists in the summer. There is Osvank Georgian Church from the 10th century in the village of Camliyamac of the district.
The researches show that the settlement in Ilica dates back to 4000 B. C. There are sulphureous hot water sources in the district and the thermal resort provides accommodation and therapy to the patients coming from out of the city.
Its settlement dates back to the 19th century B.C. İspir had been dominated by the Ottomans, after the Iran expedition of Sultan Selim the Grim in 1514. Coruh River, which is one of the fastest flowing rivers of the world, is suitable for rafting sport. Rafting can be done in 4 different courses in the section of approximately 260 km. length, beginning from Bayburt and following İspir and Yusufeli to Artvin.
Van Church in the village of Kecili and Kivi Cave in the village of Yildizkaya are worth to see in the district which has got a significant potential for tourism.
THE HISTORICAL WORKS
Erzurum Archeology Museum
Yakutiye Madrasa had been transformed into an Archeology Museum in 1994 with the opening of the Turkish-Islamic Works and Ethnography Museum. Its connected units are Turkish-Islamic Works Museum and Ataturk House Museum. In the museum, there are the halls of Excavation Hall, the Hall of Trans-Caucus Culture of 2000 B.C., Urinian Hall, Natural History Hall and Armenian Massacre Hall.
In the Excavation Hall; the works brought from Karaz (1942-1944), Pulur (1960), Guzelova (1961) and Sos Hoyuk (1994-1998) excavations are being exhibited. The statuettes, sacred ovens, arrows, earthenware pots and stone works belonging to the period from 9000 B.C. to the Seljuqs are being exhibited.
In the Roman, Hellenistic, Trans-Caucus Hall; the works brought from İkiztepe tumulusus and golden works like diadem, ring, earrings, glass tear bottles, earthenware pots and tombs belonging to the Roman and Hellenistic periods obtained by purchase and confiscation, works belonging to the Trans-Caucus culture which overspread at the west of Van Basin, Eastern Anatolian Region, the vicinity of Urmiye Lake at the southeast and Georgia at the northeast in 2000 B.C. are being exhibited.
In the Urinian Works and Coins Hall; the exhibited earthenware and metallic pots, jewelry, seals, war materials, offering panels and rythons show the advanced level of the Urinian civilization. Moreover, there are numerous coins belonging to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods in this hall.
In the Urinian Inscriptions and Natural History Hall; stone Urinian inscriptions which are very important written Urinian documents setting light to the history are being exhibited. Moreover, there are some fossils.
In the Armenian Massacre Hall; the foundlings discovered at the excavations in Alaca, Yesilyayla and Timar Villages in Erzurum and in Obakoy village in Kars, after the Armenian genocide against the Turks in Anatolia in 1918 are being exhibited. Among the foundlings, there are amulets, buttons, cigarette cases and necklaces with crescent and star, bullet shells and parts of the Holy Quran.
Ataturk House Museum
The mansion had gained importance when Mustafa Kemal Pasha had come to Erzurum for the congress after he went to Samsun and had settled here with Huseyin Rauf bey and his friends on 9 July 1919, had continued the studies of Erzurum Congress until 29 August 1919 for 52 days. On their arrival on 13 September 1924, the golden key made by a jeweler from Erzurum by the Mayor Nazif Bey and the title deed of the city were given on behalf of the city to Mustafa Kemal Pasha as a present. The objects, documents and photographs of that period are being exhibited in the museum.
Turkish-Islamic Works and Ethnography Musuem (Yakutiye Madrasa)
According to the inscription on the Madrasa crown gate, the madrasa had been built by Cemaleddin Hoca Yakut Gazani in the name of Gazanhan and Bolugan Hatun in the period of Ilkhanid Monarch Sultan Olcayto in the Muslim year 710 (Christian 1310).
A monumental structure had been constructed by following the traditional architectural style of the Seljuq period in the Yakutiye Madrasa. The structure is included in the group of madrasas which have four liwans and closed courtyard. The centre courtyard is covered with a mukarnas dome. At the end of the east liwan, there is a vault. There are no graves in the vault. The balance provided by the protuberant crown gate and minarets at two corners of the madrasa has been succeeded in the whole structure by putting vault across the front. Attention has also been given to the balance and symmetry of the plant, geometric motifs and symbolic depictions. The museum is open for visitors only in the summer months.
It is assumed that the vault which has got a plan of eight corners among the three vaults had belonged to the founder of Saltuklu State, Emir Saltuk. It is unknown for whom the other two vaults had been built. The vaults had been completely constructed with block stones. The three vaults had a significant importance among the vaults belonging to the Turks, because of its planning, materials and decoration. These magnificent vaults had two great characteristics. The first one is that they are one of the first works which had been built in Anatolia; the second one is that the three vaults had been constructed with a totally different architectural style.
It is on the historical Silk Road and 79 km. away from Erzurum. The inner castle built on a hill of about 2000 m. height, had been constructed by the Roman Emperor Theodosius in the 5th century. It has been used as barracks by Turks until recent times. The mosque and clock tower of the castle attain importance as they are the first examples of the Turkish architecture. The tower, also called as “Tray Minaret”, had been used as a watch tower in the Middle Age. It has been turned into a clock tower in the Baroque age of the Ottoman architecture. The mosque covered with a single large dome, has the characteristics of the traditional Turkish architecture.
The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower built as a minaret to the Inner Castle Mosque, is also called as “Tray Minaret” and “Tower”. The Clock Tower on the walls of the Erzurum Castle had been established on a hill overlooking the city and it can be easily seen from anywhere. It had been constructed by Abu'l Muzafferuddin Gazi, who reigned between 1124- 1132.
Erzurum Cifte Minareli Madrasa
Its construction date and real name are not known due to its absence of an inscription. It is also called as “Hatuniye Madrasa”, as it is thought to be built by Hundi Hatun, the daughter of the Seljuq Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad or by Padisah Hatun from the Ilkhanid Dynasty. It is generally accepted that it was built at the end of the 13th century.
It is the largest example of the madrasas which have four liwans, open courtyard in the Anatolia. There are fountain niches and half-circular two pillars other than the crown gate on the front side. The many-cuspidate cylindrical minarets on two sides of the crown gate have been decorated with glazed and non-glazed brick, its pedestals with mosaic tiles. The upper parts beginning from the serefes have been ruined. The plastic volume plant decorations circling the crown gate fractionally and the motifs of dragon, tree of life and eagle inside the thick panels are the most spectacular parts of the exterior side. It is thought that the motifs of the tree of life and eagle voice the power and immortality reaching up to the Central Asia Turkish belief, rather than being an emblem.
There are writing belts composed of the scriptures and hadiths beside the cell arches, door-window frames and examples of geometric and plant seen on the columns.
Ulu Mosque (Atabey Mosque-Centre)
The mosque is thought to be built by the Saltukogullari in 1179; it went through several repairs and it was sometimes used for other than its real function.
It was built by the Georgian King, Great David between the years 961- 1001. It is in the village of Bagbasi, which is 26 km. away from Tortum district. It was later used as a mosque. It preserves its architectural (church) structure and it is visited by the Christians.
Other mosques and churches n Erzurum and its vicinity are very important historical works. Some of them are; Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque, Murat Pasa Mosque, Gurcu Kapisi (Ali Aga) Mosque, Caferiye Mosque, Narmanli Mosque, Seyhler Mosque, İbrahim Pasa Mosque, Haci Dervis Mosque, Cennetzade Mosque, Ayas Pasa Mosque, Gurcu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, Arslan Pasa Mosque, Penek Koyu Church (Castle).
It was built by the Ilkhanid Vizier, Emir Coban Salduz between the years of 1297- 1298. It is an important work built as seven arches on the Aras River. The bridge is 200 meters length.
Rustem Pasa Bedesten (Covered Bazaar)
It was built by the Grand Vizier, Rustem Pasa of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent between the years of 1555- 1560. The two-storey building, which has the characteristics of the Ottoman architecture, is still being used as bazaar. There are mostly the dealers of the oltu stone in the bazaar.
The building at the 34 km. southwest of Askale dates back to the end of the 13th century. It has reached our times in a very ruined form.
It is located at the 32 km. west of Askale. It is one of the Ottoman inns that was built at the beginning of the 17th century.
OTHER TOURISM, NATURAL AND CULTURAL VALUES
Palandoken Ski Center
Palandoken is the most popular ski center of the Eastern region. It is also one of the three best ski centers of Turkey. The high altitude, the snow of high quality and long winter provides unlimited ski pleasure. The ski season continues for exactly six months from November to May. In normal winter conditions, the snow thickness increases up to two or three meters. The snow quality preserves it characteristics of “powder snow” during this period, because of the climate. The white city, Erzurum is covered with snow about 150 days of a year.
The track of 3125 meters height of the Palandoken Ski Center is the track which has the highest altitude in Turkey. Moreover, it is possible to descend by skiing non-stop from the altitude of 3125 meters to the 2100 meters. The track of 27 No is one of the longest tracks of Turkey with its length of about eight km. There are tracks in Palandoken that are natural and not squashed for the snowboarders. These tracks can be reached by T-bar and chair lifts.
One of the characteristics of Palandoken is that the track and hotels can be reached in 20 minutes after the arrival of airplane, bus or train. Palandoken Ski Center is only 13 km. away from Erzurum. This road is always open even in the hardest weather conditions.
Palandoken Mountains lie at the south of Erzurum and at the west-east direction. The researches which were done show that Palandoken Mountains has the quality to be an international winter sports center with its natural structure and climate. According to the project, it is provided for that on three areas 32,000 people could ski per day, the international competitions and even the Winter Olympics could be arranged, job opportunities could be directly given to 6,000 people. There are 4 and 5 star accommodation facilities, ski house, daily facilities and restaurants. Ski instruction and equipment rental services are also available.
The tracks in the Palandoken Ski Center are among the longest and steepest ski tracks in the world. The longest track has a length of 12 km. and the total length of the ski tracks is 28 km. There are two registered ski tracks for the competitions of Slalom and Grand Slalom in Palandoken, where the altitude difference between the start and finish line is 1000 meters. They are Ejder Track and Kapikaya Track.
In the ski center, there are 5 chair lifts (total 4500 people/hour capacity), 1 T-bar (300 people/hour capacity), 2 baby lifts (total 1800 people/hour capacity) and 1 gondola lift (1500 people/hour capacity).
The Resort Places
The waterfall formed with the downfall of Tortum Brook from 48 m. height, at the edge of the Tortum Lake, has been formed with the landslide of a mountain in the valley and closing the front side of the brook. It is 120 km. away from Erzurum. It is a great pleasure to watch it in the spring, when the water level is high with its natural spectacle and grandeur.
Narman Red Fairy Chimneys
The geological formations at the 7 km. south of Narman district are very interesting. Red fairy chimneys have been formed with the erosion of the sandy soil by the wind and rain. It is possible to see these formations only in this region in the Eastern Anatolian region.
Pasinler Thermal Tourism Center
It is in the Pasinler district center and on the Erzurum-Tehran international highway. It has got a composition of bicarbonate, chlorine, sodium, carbon dioxide and partly radioactive. It can be used in drinking and bathing. It is good for the diseases like rheumatism, mental and muscle fatigue, nervous disorders, joint and calcification. The accommodation facilities have not got enough comfort.
The Sports Activities
Coruh River flowing through İspir district of Erzurum, is one of the most suitable rivers for rafting. Coruh attracts attention with its deep canyons and thousands of tourists came here every year. The World Rafting Championship was arranged in Coruh River in 1993. Emerging from Bayburt, flowing through the border of Erzurum İspir district and Artvin Yusufeli, arriving at Batum and flowing into the Black Sea, the river has a length of 466 km.
In the Dumlu Mountains which are at the north of Erzurum, especially foreign tourists are involved in trekking. After three hours of walking, the participants of this walking arrive at the cold water spring of Karasu Brook which is one of the major branches of Firat River. After a short rest here, the visitors make the return walk from the village of Kirkgoze. Similar mountain trekking activities are being made in Palandoken Mountains, which are at the south of Erzurum.
The important plateaus of Erzurum are the plateaus known as Asagi and Yukari Tekman Plateaus which have got two sections. These are the highest plateaus, although there a lot of more plateaus in the districts.
When Erzurum is mentioned, first its snowy and weather and then its “dadas” come to mind. And its tea soaked in the samovar and offered in the slim glass
Cag kebap, su boregi, kesme corba, ayran asi (yayla corbasi), ciris, eksili yaprak sarma, casir koftesi, salgam koftesi, kadayif dolmasi, salgam dolmasi, yumurta pilavi are some of the examples of the rich traditional cuisine of Erzurum. There are trout restaurants in the region.
Erzurum is very famous for its oltu stone craftsmanship. The prayer beads, cigarette holders, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, earrings and hairclips crafted from oltu stone are the major souvenirs of the region. This sparklingly shining stone is very glamorous. Moreover, carpet-weaving, coppery, ceramics and jewelry has also developed in the region.