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IĞDIR

Bordering Azerbaijan                     population: 76,000

200 DSC04461Midway between Kars and Doğubayazıt, Iğdır is an unexpectedly modern town for eastern Turkey where women without headscarves are as common as those with them, especially in the lovely tea gardens inside Haydar Aliyev Parkı, named after the late leader of neighbouring Azerbaijan.

You probably won’t need to stop in Iğdır in which case you will probably whip past Dörtyol (Crossroads), a part of town with several cheapish hotels. 

If you do need to stop, the Anıt Müze (Memorial Museum) is a striking monument in the shape of four silver swords pointing up at the sky that recounts the Turkish take on the Armenian story wth lots of photographs of mutilated bodies exhumed from mass graves discovered locally.

Sad though that is, the museum is a crude piece of one-sided propaganda within sight of Ağrı Dağı (Mt Ararat), the mountain that is sacred to the Armenians.

In 2007 Greenpeace placed a wooden ark in the park beside the monument as a reminder of the need to take action against climate change. Needless to say, it’s locked and covered in graffiti, and the park is completely overgrown.

The museum is within sight and walking distance of the Iğdır Turizm Otobüs Terminalı.

As you leave town heading for Kağızman watch out for a statue of two storks, a symbol of Iğdır.

Sleeping

Hotel Dedemin 

In a great location near the park and popular with the business fraternity which means that it's often full.

www.hoteldedemin.com, tel: 0476-227 3920, Gençler Sokak No. 33

Hotel Olimpia 

Close to Dörtyol and so convenient for onward travel, this pleasant hotel offers spacious rooms with decent bathrooms, and a satisfying if not exceptional breakfast.

Tel: 0476-227 1866, Evrenpaşa Caddesi No. 4

Hotel Alkış 

Close to Dörtyol and so convenient for onward travel, this cheap hotel is reasonably comfortable and offers an average breakfast but asks for money in advance which is never a great welcome.

Tel: 0476-227 1568, Evrenpasa Caddesi No. 32

Hotel Gold Yıldırım 

The best hotel in town is in a good location near the park and popular with businessmen so often full mid-week.

 www.hotelgoldyildirim.com; tel: 0476-227 0227, Haydar Aliyev Parkı Karşısı (opposite the park)

Eating

200 DSC04466Iranlılar Saray Lokantası 

This is one of the country's most unexpected restaurants where you can try the Turkish take on the Iranian cafe staple abgusht. Here it’s called bozbaşı but the ritual’s the same. You’re served with a mug containing stew. Strips of flat lavaş bread are then torn up and placed in a bowl before the liquid from the mug is poured over them.

While you eat this thickened soup, the meat, potatoes, chickpeas and lamb fat from the stew are pounded down in a mortar. Then this is dished up as the second course.

Tel: 0476-227 8169, İrfan Caddesi No. 13

Transport info

Dolmuşes to Kars and Kağızman leave from the Dörtyol junction, those for Doğubayazıt from a small terminal nearby.

Day trip destinations

Doğubayazıt

Kağızman

Kars

THE ROAD FROM IĞDIR TO KAĞIZMAN

The drive from Iğdır to Kağızman takes a stunning road that passes through Tuzluca, a salt-mining centre both in the past and today; look up at the rockface for square openings which indicate old mines. There’s no reason to linger there, although the odd derelict stone building from the days of the Russian occupation survives around Cumhuriyet Meydanı.

Past Tuzluca the scenery grows ever more dramatic with mountains soaring on both sides of the road, some of them craggy-topped and alpine in appearance.

Midway between Tuzluca and Kağızman a new dam is being built (June 2011) which inevitably means that the landscape quality deteriorates.

 

 

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