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—  Town  —
Location of Ardahan within Turkey.
Coordinates: 41°07′N 42°42′E / 41.117°N 42.7°E / 41.117; 42.7
Country  Turkey
Region Eastern Anatolia
Province Ardahan
Elevation 1,900 m (6,234 ft)
 - Total 17,274
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 75xxx
Area code(s) (0090)+ 478
Licence plate 75

Ardahan (Armenian: Արդահան, also Արտահան, Artahan; Georgian: არტაანი, არდაჰანი) is a city in northeastern Turkey, near the Georgian border.




Ancient and medieval

Ardahan belonged to the Kingdom of Armenia during ancient and medieval times. It was located in the canton of Ardahan, which was a part of the province of Gugark'.[1] In the ninth century, the city was taken by the Bagratuni 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. According to the Arab historian Yahya of Antioch, the Byzantines burned down Ardahan and slaughtered its population in 1021.[1] 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).[2] 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."[3]


Prior to the outbreak of the 1828-1829 Russo-Turkish war, Ardahan was composed of 400 households, the great majority of them Armenian.[1] 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, Greeks, Jews, Russians, Turks and Yazidis.[1][2] 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 and Georgian inhabitants.[2] The Russians 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 and Georgians fled to Armenia and Georgia.[2] 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.[1]

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 still occupies the Ottoman fortress and it is inaccessible 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, while in the town itself there are still few social, cultural, and shopping amenities. There are hotels, mainly used by truck drivers and other travellers crossing into Georgia.

The region is renowned for its hard yellow kaşar cheese, its cattle markets, and its geese.

Significant Days

Local Days of Celebration

  • Freedom Day - 23 February
  • Commemoration day for Çanakkale Victory - 18 March
  • Commemoration day for Air Force Martyrs - 21 March
  • Seljuq Conquest of Ardahan - 24 June
  • Ram Introduction - 10 October


  • Festival of Animals and Animal Products - 20 August
  • Goose Festival - 18 November

International relations

Twin towns—Sister cities

Ardahan is twinned with:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e (Armenian) Anon. «Արդահան» (Ardahan). Armenian Soviet Encyclopedia. vol. ii. Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1976, p. 7.
  2. ^ a b c d (Armenian) Melkonyan, Ashot. «Արդահան» (Ardahan). Encyclopedia of the Armenian Question. Yerevan: Yerevan State University Press, 1996, p. 54.
  3. ^ (Armenian) Evliya Chelebi. Թուրքական Աղբյուրներ, Էվլիյա Չելեբի (Turkish Sources, Evliya Chelebi). Foreign Sources on Armenia and Armenians, Turkish Sources, Volume 3. Trans. and commentary by A. Kh. Safrastyan. Yerevan, Armenian SSR: Oriental Department of Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1967, p. 113.

Further reading


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