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The Seljuk era Çifte Minareli Medrese is the symbol of Erzurum and appears on the city's coat of arms
Erzurum is located in Turkey
Location of Erzurum
Coordinates: 39°54′N 41°16′E / 39.9°N 41.27°E / 39.9; 41.27
Country  Turkey
Region Eastern Anatolia
Province Erzurum Province
Population (2000)
 - Total 361,235
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 - Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)

Erzurum (Armenian: Կարին, Karin, also Կարնո քաղաք, Karno K’aġak’, City of Karin; Greek: Θεοδοσιούπολις, Theodosiopolis) is a city in eastern Anatolia, Turkey. The name "Erzurum" derives from "Arz-e Rûm" (literally The Land of the Romans in Persian).[1] To Arabs the city was known as Ḳālīḳalā (adopted from the Armenian name Karno K'aghak'),[2] until the city was retaken by the Byzantines under Emperor Basil II. The town was known in Roman and subsequently Byzantine times as Theodosiopolis, acquiring its present name after its conquest by the Seljuk Turks following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.[2]

Erzurum had a population of 361,235 in the 2000 census. It is the capital of Erzurum Province, the largest province in Turkey's Eastern Anatolia Region. The city is situated 1757 meters (5766 feet) above sea level and has an extreme continental climate with an average January temperature of −11 °C (12.2 °F). Temperatures often drop below −30 °C (−22.0 °F) in the winter and sometimes experience heavy snowfall.

Erzurum, known as "The Rock" in NATO code, has served as NATO's southeastern-most air force post during the Cold War. The city uses the double-headed Anatolian Seljuk Eagle as its coat-of-arms, a motif based on the double-headed Byzantine Eagle that was a common symbol throughout Anatolia and the Balkans in the medieval period.




Early history

In ancient times Erzurum existed under the name of Karin. During the reigns of the Artaxiad and Arsacid kings of Armenia, Karin served as the capital of the region of Karin. After the partition of Armenia between the Roman Empire and Sassanid Persia in 387, the city passed into the hands of the Romans. They fortified the city[3] and renamed it Theodosiopolis, after Emperor Theodosius II.[4]

As the chief military stronghold along the eastern border of the empire, Theodosiopolis held a highly important strategic location and was fiercely contested in wars between the Byzantines and Persians. Emperors Anastasius I and Justinian I both refortified the city and built new defenses during their reigns.[5]

Theodosiopolis was conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century. It became the capital of the emirate of Kalikala and was used as a base for raids into Byzantine territory. Though only an island of Arab power within Christian Armenian-populated territory, the native population was generally a reliable client of the Caliph's governors. As the power of the Caliphate declined, and the resurgence of Byzantium began, the local Armenian leaders preferred the city to be under the control of powerless Muslim emirs rather than powerful Byzantine emperors.[6]

In 931, and again in 949, Byzantine forces led by Theophilos Kourkouas, grandfather of the future emperor John I Tzimiskes, captured Theodosiopolis. Its Arab population was expelled and the city was resettled by Greeks and Armenians.[7] Emperor Basil II rebuilt the city and its defenses in 1018 with the help of the local Armenian population.[8] In 1071, after the decisive battle at Manzikert, the Seljuk Turks took possession of Theodosiopolis. The Saltuklus were rulers of an Anatolian Turkish Beylik (principality) centered in Erzurum, who ruled from 1071 to 1202. Melike Mama Hatun, sister of Nâsırüddin Muhammed, was the ruler between 1191 and 1200. The city passed hands several times in the following centuries until coming under Ottoman rule in 1514.

Modern history

Photograph by W. L. Sachtleben showing Armenian victims of a massacre in Erzurum on October 30, 1895 being gathered for burial in a mass grave.[9]
Decisions made at the Erzurum Congress of July 23, 1919; an important milestone of the Turkish War of Independence.

The city was captured by the Russian Empire in 1829, but was returned to the Ottoman Empire under the Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne). During the Crimean war Russian forces approached Erzurum, but did not attack it because of insufficient forces and the continuing Russian siege of Kars. The city was attacked and, after overcoming strong resistance, captured by a Russian army in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Again it was returned to the Ottoman Empire, this time under the Treaty of San Stefano. There were massacres of the city's Armenian citizens during the Hamidian massacres (1894–1896).[10][11]

The city was the location of one of the key battles in the Caucasus Campaign of World War I between the armies of the Ottoman and Russian Empires which resulted in capture of Erzurum by Russian forces under the command of Grand Duke Nicholas and Nikolai Nikolaevich Yudenich on February 16, 1916. Erzurum was also a major deportation center during the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Prior to the war, the city had a vibrant Armenian community with numerous schools and served as the provincial residence of the Archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church. By the time the Russians entered it in 1916, barely a hundred Armenians were still alive, out of a prewar population of 20,000.[12] The deportation route for the Armenians of Erzurum and neighboring areas in Western Armenia went through the city of Harput.[13]

Erzurum was returned to the Ottomans officially with the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, one of the founders of the modern Turkish Republic, resigned from the Ottoman Army in Erzurum, and was declared the "Honorary Native" and the freeman of the city, which issued him his first citizenship registration and certificate (Nüfus Cuzdanı) of the new Turkish Republic. The Erzurum Congress of 1919 was one of the starting points of the Turkish War of Independence.[14]


Palandöken skiing resort in Erzurum.
Folkloric dance of Erzurum.

One of the largest source of income and economic activity in the city has been Atatürk University. Established in 1950, it is one of the largest universities in Turkey, having more than forty-thousand students. Tourism also provides a portion of the province's revenues. The city is a popular destination in Turkey for winter sports at the nearby Palandöken Mountain.

Erzurum is notable for the small-scale production of objects crafted from Oltu stone: most are sold as souvenirs and include prayer beads, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, earrings and hairclips.

For now, Erzurum is the ending point of the South Caucasus Pipeline, also called the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) pipeline. Erzurum will also be the starting point of the planned Nabucco pipeline which will carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin to the European Union member states. The intergovernmental agreement between Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria to build the Nabucco pipeline was signed by five Prime Ministers on 13 July 2009 in Ankara.[15][16] The European Union was represented at the ceremony by the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and the Commissioner for Energy Andris Piebalgs, while the United States was represented by the Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar and the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Richard Lugar.[17][18]


Little of medieval Erzurum survives beyond scattered individual buildings such as the citadel fortress, and the 13th century Çifte Minareli Medrese (the "Twin Minaret" madrasa).

Six kilometres to the south of the center of Erzurum is an important skiing center on the Palandöken Mountain range. There are several ski runs; the south ski run is 8 km long, while the north ski run is intended for advanced skiers. The summit of Mt. Palandöken, which is called Büyük Ejder (Great Dragon), is at an altitude of 3188 metres. It can be reached with a chair lift which rises until an altitude of 3100 metres.

The 25th World Winter Games, 2011 Winter Universiade, of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) will be held in Erzurum.[1]


One specialty of Erzurum's cuisine is Cağ Kebab. Although this kebab variety is of recent introduction outside its native region, it is rapidly attaining widespread popularity around Turkey.

Kadayıf Dolması is an exquisite dessert made with walnut.


The main bus station has bus links to most major Turkish cities. Erzurum is also the main railroad endpoint for the Eastern Anatolia region. Erzurum Airport, also used by the Turkish Air Force, has the second longest runway in Turkey.

Notable natives


  1. ^ Erzurum The name comes from the Arabic, "Arzu r-Rum," meaning "Land of the Romans."
  2. ^ a b Inalcik, Halil. "Erzurum". Encyclopedia of Islam. vol. ii. P. Bearman et al. (eds.) Leiden: Brill, 1965, p. 712.
  3. ^ The building of the fortress was directed in the mid 430s by the Magister militum per Orientem Anatolius.
  4. ^ Garsoïan, Nina G. "The Foundation of Theodosiopolis-Karin" in Armenian Karin/Erzerum. UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series: Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces, 4. Richard G. Hovannisian (ed.) Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2003, pp. 63-72.
  5. ^ (Armenian) Arakelyan, Babken N. "Հայաստանի Խոշոր Քաղաքները" ("The Great Cities of Armenia"). History of the Armenian People. vol. iii. Yerevan: Armenian Academy of Sciences, 1976, p. 232.
  6. ^ Whittow, Mark. The Making of Byzantium, 600-1025. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996, pp. 310, 320.
  7. ^ Whittow. The Making of Byzantium, p. 322.
  8. ^ Arakelyan. "The Great Cities of Armenia", pp. 232-233.
  9. ^ This photograph was published in the December 7th 1895 edition of the London-based illustrated newspaper The Graphic. See Gia Aivazian, "The W. L. Sachtleben Papers on Erzerum in the 1890s" in Armenian Karin/Erzerum, pp. 223-260.
  10. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 141.
  11. ^ Balakian, Peter. The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 59, 127–129. ISBN 0-0605-5870-9. 
  12. ^ Hewsen, Robert H. "Summit of the Earth: The Historical Geography of Bardzr Hayk" in Armenian Karin/Erzerum, pp. 51-56, 60.
  13. ^ Balakian. The Burning Tigris, p. 247.
  14. ^ See, Hovannisian, Richard G. "The Competition for Erzerum, 1914-1921" in Armenian Karin/Erzerum, pp. 378ff.
  15. ^ "Europe gas pipeline deal agreed". BBC News. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  16. ^ "Turkey, EU countries sign gas pipeline deal". Today's Zaman. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  17. ^ "Nabucco Summits Begins". Turkish Press. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 
  18. ^ United States Department of State (2009-07-13). "Signing Ceremony for the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Nabucco Pipeline". Press release. Retrieved 2009-07-13. 

External links

Further reading

  • Hovannisian, Richard G. (ed.) Armenian Karin/Erzerum. UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series: Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces, 4. Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 2003.
  • (Armenian) Ter-Ghevondyan, Aram N. "Կարին-Թեոդուպոլիսը ավանդության և պատմության մեջ" ("Karin-Theodosiopolis in Tradition and History"). Lraber Hasarakakan Gitutyunneri. № 3, 1971.

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