Welcome to Erzurum, Turkey!
Located over 2000 meters (6500 feet) above sea level, Erzurum is a major city in eastern Anatolia that perhaps doesn’t get the tourist credit it deserves. The city is one of the oldest in the area with buildings and neighborhoods dating back over 1000 years ago. Erzurum is also one of the biggest cities in Turkey, with a climate that is heavy with snow and long winters. This means you can enjoy winter sports in Erzurum. Skiing (“Turkey” and “skiing” don’t often go together anywhere but here) and snowboarding are both popular activities here, with many great Erzurum ski resorts in the area.
With its distinct climate, old history and culture, a worldwide local would certainly feel like Erzurum has a lot to offer, and it does. Many of the hotspots around town aren’t frequently visited by tourists making them even more authentic and special. Stop by Erzurum on your next Turkish getaway, and check out what others are missing.
Worldwide Local Tip: Erzurum is a pretty small and walkable city. Most of it can be covered by foot, but if you plan on venturing outside the city center, there are taxis and/or buses that will be available. Bring some good walking shoes and you should be fine getting around town.
Places to Visit in Erzurum
The history of a city is often what makes it special and worth getting to know. Erzurum is fascinating because it houses some of the best examples of rare Ilkhanate architecture. The Yakutiye Medresesi dates back from 1310 when the area was ruled by the Mongol Khanate. The Mongols borrowed the basics of architecture from the Seljuks using their own variations. This makes it very unique, in that it looks a little out of place here, but wouldn’t look out of place if it were in Central Asia. Inside, guests can get a glimpse of exhibits on traditional crafts, culture, and local life, as well as stunning tile mosaics.
Worldwide Local Tip: Nearby, is the equally splendid Çifte Minareli Medrese. Built after the Mongol takeover, the eye-catching blue portal is absolutely stunning and leads to a small courtyard, where you’ll find the tomb of the medrese’s founder. The area is a little smaller and less frequented by visitors, so coming here is generally a more personal and low-key experience.
Eat Like a Local
Can you really experience a new city if don’t try the local cuisine? The food around Erzurum is absolutely amazing, showcasing a variety of local specialties and restaurants that are not only delicious but located in some pretty amazing buildings. Güzelyurt Restaurant has been in business since 1928 and is popular for the waiters’ bow-ties and its meze options (think Turkish-style tapas). Çagin Caǧ Kebap Lokanta is popular with locals because of their mutton on a stick. At about $1.25 USD per skewer, they’ll just keep bringing it to you until you tell them to stop. Eat it right off the stick as the locals do.
Worldwide Local Tip: Known as the “hidden mansion,” Daşhane Sakli Konak is set in an old Russian house and is a must-visit location. The secret little cafe is intimate with light food offerings, non-alcoholic drinks, and its specialty: kadayif dolmasi, which is a shredded wheat roll stuffed with walnuts and topped with syrup.
Don’t Miss Ulu Cami
One of the oldest and most influential spots in town is the Ulu Cami. The elegant and modest mosque was built in 1179, by the Saltuk Turkish Emir, and has massive halls with towering columns and pointed arches. On the central side sits a massive dome that opens to the heavens, and is an absolute marvel to look at from the inside. Definitely check out this cultural icon, while in Erzurum.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a taste of some more contemporary culture, head to Alișveriș Merkezi in Yakutiye Park. This hub of the city’s student world is a great place to relax, enjoy the Erzurum weather, have some Turkish coffee, and listen to live music. In addition, there’s a pool, foosball, and even an underground bowling alley. It’s a good place to unwind and mingle with the locals.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Erzurum is a hub of life and culture in Turkey, and should definitely be on your list of places to see. As a worldwide local you’ll love the history, architecture, and food. Erzurum is, certainly, a place you won’t forget.