The Ovacik Dancers head to the cold north west of Turkey at the invitation of the local Governor.

The Ovacik Dancers travelled to Kars yesterday at the invitation of the local Governor.

The city of Kars is located in the north west of Turkey and sits some 1,775 metres, almost 6,000 feet, above sea level.

The city is also near to the Armenian border and has been a hard fought area over the years with Selcuk, Byzantine, Russian, Armenian and Ottoman occupation many of whom left their own interesting structures behind.

Regular readers may recall the Dance Group’s arrival at Kars airport in February 2008 when they landed in blizzard and fought their way against howling winds and horizontal snow from the aircraft to the terminal.

What a contrast on this arrival on Wednesday 18th March.

As we are coming to land we can see there isn’t much snow on the ground in Kars itself, though the ski slopes in the distance are still uniformly white.

When we emerge from the terminal building the sun is shining and it is warm.

And Kars Belediye has sent a bus to collect us and take us to our downtown hotel, where we are welcomed with tea.

As we’d travelled through the night from Fethiye to Izmir Airport for our 07.45 flight to Kars, we were exhausted so collapsed for a couple of hours and then headed out to see some sights.

Close to our hotel is Kars Castle, a black grim-looking structure originally built in the 12th century but destroyed and rebuilt several times since.
 
This is the view down over the centre of Kars from the Castle.

The strangely shaped structure in the centre is an old Armenian church now converted to a mosque.

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But the structure that caught everyone’s attention was an enormous statue still being completed.
 
It is a huge statue of two abstract body shapes facing each other and is a Peace Memorial (see first picture).

It is due to be officially unveiled in the summer and apparently Kars is hoping Obama may do the honour.

We’ll try and get a better photo during our stay – it is a huge structure.

Of course we followed our sightseeing with a little retail therapy, cakes, too much tea and are now planning dinner followed by an early night.

What will tomorrow bring?

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