Geographical Regions: Turkey, which has 80 administrative provinces, is divided into seven geographical regions; the Black Sea region, the Marmara region, the Aegean region, the Mediterranean region, Central Anatolia, the East and Southeast Anatolia regions
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  EASTERN TURKEY - Ani (Church) Ruines
An ancient and ruined Armenian church, in Turkey border, situated at an altitude of 4390 ft., between the Arpacayi (Harpasus) and a deep ravine. In 961 it became the capital of the Bagratid kings of Armenia, and when yielded to the Byzantine emperor (1046) it was a populous city, known traditionally as the "city with the I oor churches." It was taken eighteen years later by the Seljuk Turks, five times by the Georgians between 1125 and 1209, in 1239 by the Mongols, and its ruin was completed by an earthquake in 1319. It is still surrounded by a double wall partly in ruins, and amongst the remains are a "patriarchal" church finished in Ion), two other churches, both of the 11th century, a fourth built in 1215, and a palace of large size. Ani: located 42 km east of Kars, near the Armenian border and the village of Ocakli, this ghost town, is the reason why many travellers visit Kars province. The ancient Armenian town was built on the barren plains above the Arpacay valley, that today separates Turkey from Armenia. In its hey-day Ani had a population of over 100.000. Once an important station in the ancient silk road, serving as a trading post and caravanseray for merchants' camel caravans travelling between east and west. It was held by the Armenian Gamsaragan dynasty before it was acquired by Bagatrid kingdom, an Armenian state that established its dominance over most Armenian princes in the 9th century. It suceeded to Kars in 961 as capital of the Bagatrid kingdom. However the Bagatrid Kingdom was brought to an end by the eastward drive of the Byzantine empire, shortly before the Turkish invasion, in the early 11th century. Ani fell to the Mongols in the 13th century, who ransacked it and later Tamerlane rampaged through and mercilessly destroyed what was left. When the trade routes moved further south, the once bustling metropolis lost its revenue from trade and soon the entire province declined. It was again destroyed by earthquakes in the 14th century. The town is surrounded by imposing double ramparts with round towers. Inside the walls what remains today are several Armenian churches with amazing frescos, a Cathedral, a Georgian church, the Horomos Monastery, a ruined Seljuk palace, a couple of mosques and caravanserays. Ani is still under Turkish military control. Though the site is advertised as a tourist attraction, visitors have to obtain permits from the tourism office, police and museum in nearby Kars. On arrival visitors are briefed by an armed soldier on where they may go. Troops patrol the site and use the ruins of a mosque as a look-out post. A ban on cameras was lifted recently, but photographers are not allowed to point their cameras in the direction of Armenia.
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Dear Mr. Sen: Our family greatly enjoyed our vacation in Turkey, including the tour of Western Turkey arranged by Ezop Travel. The guide you provided, Timur, was well-informed, friendly and a good travel companion. We appreciated that he was flexible as well, for example when we decided we'd seen enough Roman and Greek ruins and asked to substitute an afternoon on the beach for the ruins at Troy. David Adelstein (USA)