Connecting Lviv to the World: Erzurum
English travel author Sir John Mandeville provides us with one of the first literary references to
Erzurum in his 14th century account of journeying through modern-day Turkey. He drew particular attention to the cold temperature of the local climate — something which he attributed to the mountainous terrain. Erzurum remains one of the coldest spots in Turkey and a focus for winter sports — five kilometers south of the city lies Palandöken, a state-of-the-art ski resort that soars to 3,271 meters. For sports enthusiasts the region has much to
offer, while also offering a fascinating look at life in early 21st century Turkey. Erzurum’s many-layered history, with its ancient Roman, Armenian, Byzantine and Seljuk legacies, can be traced in the city’s architectural heritage. The city’s Kale (castle) dates back to the fourth century reign of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II — the same ruler responsible for the construction of Istanbul’s famous fortifications.
The city’s name is thought to be derived from the Arabic phrase ‘Arz ur Rum’ (literally: land of the Romans), a fact which neatly illustrates Erzurum’s role as a key strategic point in the regional geopolitical balance of power. Aside from the castle itself, most of the main sites of
historic interest stand on or around Cumhuriyet Caddesi, the city’s main street. Descending from the castle you'll come out close to the lovely Çifte Minare Medresesi (Seminary with Twin Minarets), which was probably commissioned in 1253 by Hüdavend Hatun, the daughter of
Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad II. The Ottomans didn't leave too much of a mark on Erzurum even though they governed it from 1515 when Selim the Grim seized it from the Mongols, whose main gift to the city was the Yakutiye Medresesi, commissioned by in 1310 and now
housing the city's fine Museum of Islamic and Turkish Arts. Its stumpy, blue-tiled minaret powerfully evokes the art of Central Asia in a nod to the Mongol rulers' origins.
In recent years Erzurum has received investment of about USD 600 million for the construction of modern winter sports facilities, creating the foundations for the future of Turkey’s winter sports. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto lu has said Erzurum will be better than Davos, a
popular Swiss winter sports center. Erzurum is also the gateway to other parts of northeastern Turkey. Those who don't mind roughing it might like to take a minibus east to Pasinler
(Hasankale) to view the dramatic remains of a 15th-century castle built by Uzun Hasan, the leader of the Akkoyunlu (White Sheep) Turks, and to try out one of the public baths fed by the local hot springs. Visiting the baths can certainly be an eye-opening experience!
HOW TO GET THERE
There are regular flights to Erzurum from Istanbul, which is connected to Lviv via daily services. The Turkish Airlines representative office in Lviv is located at 4 Mickiewicza Sqr. and is open daily except Saturdays. For further details please call +38032 297-08-49.