Erzurum is the highest major city in Turkey, sitting at 6,400 feet above sea level. It is a fertile plain surrounded on all sides by beautiful, tall mountains. Historically speaking, Erzurum has been a major commercial and military center since antiquity. It was a major city on a caravan route from Anatolia to Iran and an important stop along the Silk Road.
Although its foundation was probably much earlier, Erzurum achieved real importance as Theodosiopolis, a 5th-Century Byzantine fortress. This city fell to the Arabs in 653 and was then disputed among the Byzantines, Arabs, and Armenians until it was conquered by the Seljuq Turks in 1071. The Arabs and the Turks called it Arzan al-Rūm, “Land of the Romans”. That is where we get its current name, Erzurum. It came under Ottoman control in 1515, before being occupied by the Russians in 1829, 1878, and 1916–18. In Erzurum in 1919, Atatürk presided over the first Turkish nationalist congress, leading to the establishment of the Turkish republic.
Famous local sites: Great Mosque, Seljuq Theological Colleges, Erzurum Castle, Twin Minarets Madrassah, the 3 Tombs, Fairy Chimneys of Narman, Tortum Waterfall, Georgian Church Ruins
Must Try Local Eats: Kadayif Dolmasi, Cag Kebap