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Skiers take note. An emergent winter sports capital is budding in Anatolia.

When you think of Turkey you probably think of mystical mosques, splendid spires and warm weather. It’s certainly not the first place people think of for skiing, but of course it has high mountains and plenty of snow. The government is now making a push to turn Erzurum, a city in eastern Anatolia with a population of 785,000, into a winter sports capital in time for this month’s 2011 Winter Universiade (a university students’ Olympics), reports the New York Times.

The most challenging skiing in Turkey is to be found in the ski resort of Palandoken, two and a half miles from Erzurum. Popular with wealthy Iranian skiers, Palandoken’s 2,200 acres has 18 runs at present but has had three lifts added to its 10,498 feet summit. Fun is to be had skiing off-piste between the runs.

And this winter, a new Ski Resort, Konakli, opened about 11 miles from Erzurum. The resort has six chairlifts and 3,000 acres of skiing. It’s new five-star hotel is set to open at the end of the year but in the meantime you can stay at Palandoken’s Renaissance Polat Erzurum Hotel and rent a car for day trips.

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