Located 45 kilometers from Ardahan city center Lake Çıldır (Çıldır Gölü), a tectonic lake, is at an altitude of 1956 meters above sea level. The lake is the largest fresh water lake in Eastern Anatolia, after Lake Van, of which area is 25 square kilometers. Since the winter season is very challenging in the region, Lake Çıldır freezes in late November and the ice thickness exceeds one meter. Fishing here is done by drilling ice. Lake Çıldır is located in a tectonic depression between Akbaba and Kısır Mountains and the deepest point of the lake is 22 meters. The lake is fed by surface waters flowing from the surrounding mountains and by numerous springs. There are four islands of various sizes on the lake. The largest of the islands is near the ruins in Akçakale. The area is also one of the important bird watching places in the region, as it is on the migration route of Ruddy Shelduck and Van Lake Seagull species.
Yalnızçam Ski Center
Yalnızçam Ski Center (Yalnızçam Kayak Merkezi) is located 16 km away from Ardahan at an altitude of 2,715 meters. There are four tracks of different difficulty levels in the area, the longest of which is four kilometers. The snow falling on Yalnızçam Ski Center is “crystal snow” which is characterized with only Alp Mountains and Sarıkamış in the world.
Lake Aktaş (Aktaş Gölü) is a tectonically formed lake, half of which is within the boundaries of Ardahan and the other half in Georgia. Aktaş Lake is a part of the lakes region, which consists of 11 lakes in total and most of them are within the boundaries of Georgia.
Lake Aktaş is one of the rare areas where White Pelican and Melanitta Fusca species spend their incubation period. It is known that Ruddy Shelduck, Stiltbird, Black Cormorant, and Van Lake Seagull species also live in the lake.
The exact construction date of Ardahan Castle (Ardahan Kalesi) is not known, but the castle, known as the Seljuk Architecture, reached the present day after a major restoration in the 16th century upon the order of Suleiman the Magnificent.
The excavations carried out in Ardahan Castle show that the region came under the rule of various kingdoms. The walls forming a rectangular plan are 745 meters long. The castle is supported by many towers with square bases and polygonal plans.
Some of the other castles that can be visited in Ardahan are:
Savaşır (Cancak) Castle
The castle is located on a pointed hill surrounded by a valley on three sides, southeast of the village of Savaşır (Cancak) in the Posof district.
The castle is located in the southeast of Bülbülan highland, north of Bağdeşe (Kinzodamal) village, approximately 30 km west of Ardahan.
The castle is located on a steep peninsula-shaped hill, south of the village of Sevimli (Vel), approximately 18-20 km southeast of Hanak district center.
The castle is established on a steep area at the intersection of the stream coming from the village and Kura Valley, approximately 450-500 meters south of Kalecik Village of Göle district.
Located in the Yıldırımtepe Village Karaçay Valley of Çıldır district, the castle is estimated to belong to the Urartian period. Built on a very steep area, the castle, which is located in the canyon of Karaçay Valley, in the northeast of Yıldırımtepe village, one km away from Çıldır, has the same features as some castles in Ardahan.
The castle is located in the south of Kurtkale region in the northeast of Çıldır district center and on the Georgian border. There is no exact information about the history and name of Kurtkale, which gave its name to the region nearby.
The castle is located approximately 12-13 km northeast of Ardahan, on the hill shaped like a tongue where Kura Valley had boundaries. There are traces of old settlements around the castle whose exact construction date is unknown.
Altaş (Ur) Castle
The castle is built on a sharp hill in the east of Altaş (Ur) village, at the 18th km of Ardahan - Hanak Highway. The first construction date of the castle is not certain, for which historical sources provide name and location information only. However, it seems that this castle has existed since the seventh and eighth century.
The castle is located on the banks of the Hanak Stream, five kilometers south of Hanak district. The exact construction date of this castle is not known either. However, it is noteworthy that the ruins survived until present day have the same wall technique as the remains of Ardahan Castle.
Ardahan Central Mevlit Efendi Mosque
The mosque is located in Ardahan city center, approximately 150-200 meters east of the Ardahan Castle. According to the inscription on the entrance door, it is understood that the mosque was built in 1701.
Posof Central Mosque
According to the inscription on the minbar of the mosque, it is understood that the mosque was built in 1868. The mosque has a rectangular plan and is made of cut stones. The interior of the mosque reflects the Ottoman architecture.
Derviş Bey Mosque
There is no biographical information about the identity of Derviş Bey, who gave the building his name. The inscriptions on the door on both sides as horizontal rectangular panels show the date 1285 (hegira)/1869 (C.E.). The panels on the right and left sides of the mosque contain the phrase “There is no higher honor than Islam” and below it there is a written date-1285.
Hamşioğlu Rasim Bey Mansion
The building consists of intertwined rooms and halls, as in examples of Baltic architectural style. There is an Ottoman inscription dated 1911 on the door at the entrance of the building. According to this inscription put later, it is stated that the Ardahan National Council Congresses were held here in January 1919 and the building was used as the official headquarters building before this date. The mansion was used as the official government building for a while in the first years of the Republic.
Dursun Soylu Mansion
The mansion is located in Ardahan city center. Built as two floors, the mansion is covered with a sloping pyramidal roof.
The building was built completely by smooth block stones. The door, window and wall features of the mansion are parallel to the examples of civil architecture in adjacent Sarıkamış, Kars, Gümrü, Caucasian and Georgian regions.
Öpündü and Ortakent (Büyük Nakala) Caves
Ortakent (Büyük Nakala) Caves consist of numerous cave settlements and a large rock church on the rock in the Kura River Valley, 10 kilometers south of the town of Ortakent in Hanak district. It is stated in historical sources that this cave settlement group is also prominent with the traces of the Paleolithic Age, like other caves such as the Tahtalı, Vaşlop, Ampur and Colit Caves.
Övündü Caves are two groups of cave settlements carved into the limestone rock mass in the Kurtkale region of Çıldır.
Akçakale Island City Ruins
Akçakale Island on Çıldır Lake is the island where Sultan Alparslan also named the castle after adding this region to the Seljuk lands. In addition to its natural beauties, it is a bird paradise in terms of bird breeding in summer. The island is also a first degree archaeological site. The ruins on the island are estimated to have a history of 10 thousand years.
Çıldır / Taşköprü Inscriptions
The inscriptions are located on a large rock in Taşköprü village, approximately 30 km south of Çıldır district center. It is estimated that this remain, which is thought to be the oldest inscription in the region, belongs to the Sarduri II, one of the Urartian kings.