Kars: When Turkey fades into the horizon

Text / photo: Aris Chatzistefanou

The road that connects Kars of eastern Turkey with the destroyed city of Ani, next to the Turkish-Armenian borders, gets blocked regularly. Not because of the snow. It’s because of the sheep that form lines of many kilometers that fade into the horizon.

“If you are unlucky enough to be living at Kars, then don’t forget to end your life while flushing the toilet”, wrote Orhan Pamuk in his book “Snow”, to describe the area that was once meant to be the easternmost point of the European Union.

Kars was the final station of western spies before infiltrating the Soviet Union. Today the only Russian element that remains is Konak’s coffee shop: elderly prostitutes from the former Soviet democracies offer their services to the town’s most desperate residents.