Ardahan and Cildir, Turkey.

I must be careful that Turkey does not monopolise the blog, but Ardahan is a remote province worth visiting for interesting scenery and unusual monuments.

The town of Ardahan, in common with many towns in Turkey’s north-east, used to be popular with prostitutes and their pimps, most of whom came from the former Soviet Union, but the region’s sex industry has taken a series of knocks recently, which makes life easier for just about everyone (except the pimps, of course). Moreover, because people in the town of Ardahan realize that the region has the potential to attract tourists, decent hotels are beginning to open. Get along before the region is better known!

Because public transport is more patchy than it used to be a few years ago, you will have to hire a car or a taxi if you wish to quickly visit some of the destinations below, but in 2010 I got to a few in only a day by hitching and walking. Local people are very kind when it comes to offering lifts.

The town of Ardahan is famous for its castle, its honey, its yellow kasar cheese, a few unappreciated Armenian monuments, and the wide, marshy valley of the River Kura (which is best viewed under a sky filled with cloud bearing rain). East of Ardahan, near the small town of Cildir, is the remarkable castle of Seytan Kalesi (drive to the village of Yildirimtepe and walk along a beautiful valley for about 2 kms to reach the castle). Beyond the town of Cildir is Cildir Golu, an austere, high altitude lake with interesting monuments at Golbelen (a church that is now a mosque) and Dogruyol (do not miss the opportunity to walk around the island joined to the mainland by a causeway. You visit the island largely for the views and the birdlife, but look out for the remains of a church and a castle). For something just as interesting, drive north from Cildir to Aktas Golu (the last photo in the sequence), a lake half in Turkey and half in Georgia. Here you really are far from the madding crowd, but the scenery along the high altitude road is excellent.

Oh yes: the first photo in the sequence is of a village inhabited only in summer. The village lies along the road between Savsat and Ardahan. It stands at about 2,500 metres above sea level.

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