1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kars (town)

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KARS, a fortified town of Russian Transcaucasia, in the province of Kars, formerly at the head of a sanjak in the Turkish vilayet of Erzerum. It is situated in 40° 37′ N. and 43° 6′ E., 185 m. by rail S.W. of Tiflis, on a dark basalt spur of the Soghanli-dagh, above the deep ravine of the Kars-chai, a sub-tributary of the Aras. Pop. (1878), 8672; (1897), 20,891. There are three considerable suburbs—Orta-kapi to the S., Bairam Pasha to the E., and Timur Pasha on the western side of the river. At the N.W. corner of the town, overhanging the river, is the ancient citadel, in earlier times a strong military post, but completely commanded by the surrounding eminences. The place is, however, still defended by a fort and batteries. There is a 10th century cathedral, Kars being the see of a bishop of the Orthodox Greek Church. Coarse woollens, carpets and felt are manufactured.

During the 9th and 10th centuries the seat of an independent Armenian principality, Kars was captured and destroyed by the Seljuk Turks in the 11th century, by the Mongols in the 13th, and by Timur (Tamerlane) in 1387. The citadel, it would appear, was built by Sultan Murad III. during the war with Persia, at the close of the 16th century. It was strong enough to withstand a siege by Nadir Shah of Persia, in 1731, and in 1807 it successfully resisted the Russians. After a brave defence it surrendered on the 23rd of June 1828 to the Russian general Count I. F. Paskevich, 11,000 men becoming prisoners of war. During the Crimean War the Turkish garrison, guided by General Williams (Sir W. Fenwick Williams of Kars) and other foreign officers, kept the Russians at bay during a protracted siege; but, after the garrison had been devastated by cholera, and food had utterly failed, nothing was left but to capitulate (Nov. 1855). The fortress was again stormed by the Russians in the war of 1877–78, and on its conclusion was transferred to Russia.

See Kmety, The Defence of Kars (1856), translated from the German; H. A. Lake, Kars and our Captivity in Russia (London, 1856); and Narrative of the Defence of Kars (London, 1857); Dr Sandwith, Narrative of the Siege of Kars (London, 1856); C. B. Norman, Armenia and the Campaign of 1877 (London, 1878); Greene, Russian Army and its Campaigns in Turkey (1879).