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Ardahan is located in Turkey
Coordinates: 41°06′40″N 42°42′08″ECoordinates: 41°06′40″N 42°42′08″E
Mayor Faruk Köksoy (AKP)
District 1,191 km2 (460 sq mi)
Elevation 1,900 m (6,200 ft)
District Density 33/km2 (86/sq mi)
Ancient and medieval
In Ancient times the region was called Gogarene, which is assumed to derive from the name of Gugars, who were a Proto-Kartvelian tribe. First surviving record about this region is attributed to Strabo, who mentions that it was a province of Caucasian Iberia. Ardahan was incorporated into the Kingdom of Armenia during 2nd century BC and was renamed as Gugark. It was located in the canton of Ardahan, which was a part of the province of Gugark'. In the ninth century, the city was taken by the Bagrationi princes of Artanuj. From the ninth to eleventh centuries, Ardahan was an important transit point for goods arriving from the Abbasid Caliphate and departing to the regions around the Black Sea. During the 8th to 11th centuries it was part of Georgian principality of Tao-Klarjeti. After the liberation from the Arab rule it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Georgia and was part of it from 11th century onwards. According to the Arab historian Yahya of Antioch, the Byzantines burned down Ardahan and slaughtered its population in 1021. The Mongols took hold of the city in the 1230s but the Georgian princes of Samtskhe-Saatabago were able to capture it from them in 1266.
The principality of Samtskhe-Saatabago was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1555 and Ardahan was included into the sanjak of Ardahan (an overall part of the vilayet of Akhaltsikhe). The Ottomans constructed a substantial fortress at Ardahan. The Turkish traveller Evliya Chelebi visited Ardahan in the 1640s and gave the following description: "The fortress of Ardahan sits atop an inaccessible cliff. It is square-shaped and sturdy....This fortress has a cold climate and, because of this, there are no gardens or orchards. Fruits arrive from the fortress at Ajara and Tortum."
Prior to the outbreak of the 1828-1829 Russo-Turkish war, Ardahan was composed of 400 households, the great majority of them Armenian. Many of them later immigrated to Russia. The town passed into the hands of the Russian Empire following the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War and was made a part of the Kars Oblast. The majority of the town was made up of Armenians, while other ethnic groups included Georgians, Pontic Greeks, Jews, Russians, Kurds and Yazidis. The town flourished economically under Russian rule, exporting fruits, smoked lamb meat, wheat and wood. New roads were constructed, linking Ardahan to Akhalkalak, Kars and Oltu. On December 25, 1914, in the early months of the First World War, the Ottoman army occupied Ardahan and massacred many of its Armenian, Pontic Greek, and Georgian inhabitants. The Russians, with the help of Armenian and Pontic Greek militias, captured the town on June 3, 1915, allowing some of the original inhabitants who had fled to return.
As Russian forces withdrew from the front following the October Revolution, a small Armenian volunteer force took up positions to defend the town from the approaching Ottoman Army. On March 6, 1918 the Ottoman army, along with the help of the town's Muslims, overwhelmed Ardahan's Armenian garrison and retook the town. The British occupied Ardahan after the end of the First World War and eventually handed control over it to the Democratic Republic of Armenia. When the Turkish Nationalists captured Ardahan in November 1920, the town's remaining Armenians, Pontic Greeks, and Georgians fled to Armenia, northern Greece, and Georgia. The Treaty of Moscow, signed the following year between the Soviets and the Turks, confirmed Ardahan as a part of Turkish territory.
In 1960, Ardahan's population stood at 7,228 and was populated by both Kurds and Turks.
Life in Ardahan
Ardahan is one of the small provincial capitals in Turkey and was until 1993 a small town in the province of Kars. In 1993 the district was made a province, with Ardahan as its regional capital. This resulted in new investment in government buildings and services, but life in mountains that spend half the year under snow is still a struggle.
Kars Kafkas University has an institute in Ardahan. There is also a substantial military presence in the town. The army no longer occupies the Ottoman fortress and it is accessible to visitors. The civil servants, academics, and military officers stationed in Ardahan help to support the local economy. These people have their own clubs and guest houses, as in many Turkish towns.
The region is renowned for its hard yellow kaşar cheese, its cattle markets, and its geese.
Ardahan has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dfb), with warm and brief summers with cool nights and very cold winters. Winters are very snowy with snowcover lasting for months. Average annual temperaure is 3.7°C. Temperatures usually drop to −20 °C (−4.0 °F) and it makes the city one of the coldest of Turkey. The highest recorded temperature was 35 °C (95.0 °F) on 29 August 1998. The lowest recorded temperature was −37.8 °C (−36.0 °F) on 14 February 1976.