The central Anatolian plateau
forms the heartland of Turkey: ochre-hued, cleft by ravines and dominated by
volcanic peaks. The boldly contoured steppe has a solitary majesty covered
with wheat fields framed by rows of poplars.
Tuz Golu (Salt Lake)
was also a cradle of human civilization. At Catalhoyuk, remains of
settlements as old as the eighth millennium B.C. have been unearthed. Here
in the homeland of many civilizations and the historic battleground between
East and West, the Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Galatians, Romans,
Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans all fought for their sovereignty and
established their rule. In the 11th century, migrating Turks from the east
made the plateau their own.
Ankara (Angora) Cat
turbulent history, Central Anatolia has endured invasion by great
conquerors, such as Alexander the Great and Tamerlane. In the course of ten
millennia of habitation, the denizens of the area have reflected the
dramatic contours of the surrounding landscape in their art, from the
compelling paintings of Catalhoyuk and the confident lines of Seljuk
architecture, to, more recently, the impressive modern form of Ataturk's
The city of
Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high
Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 m. The province is a predominantly
fertile wheat steppeland, with forested areas in the northeast. It is
bordered by the provinces of Cankiri and Bolu to the north, Eskisehir to the
west, Konya and Aksaray to the south, and Kirikkale and Kirsehir to the
history goes back to the Bronze Age Hatti civilization, which was succeeded
in the 2nd millennium B.C. by the Hittites, in the 10th century B.C. by the
Phrygians, then by the Lydians and Persians. After these came the Galatians,
a Celtic race who were the first to make Ankara their capital in the 3rd
century B.C. It was then known as Ancyra, meaning "anchor," one of the
oldest words in the language of the sea-loving Celts. The city subsequently
fell to the Romans, and to the Byzantines. Seljuk Sultan Alparslan opened
the door into Anatolia for theTurks at the victory of Malazgirt in 1071.
Then in 1073, he annexed Ankara, an important location for military
transportation and natural resources, to Turkish territory.
The city was
an important cultural, trading, and arts center in Roman times, and an
important trading center on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times.
It had declined in importance by the nineteenth century. It again became an
important center when Kemal Ataturk chose it as the base from which to
direct the War of Liberation. By consequence of its role in the war and its
strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Republic of
Turkey on October 13th, 1923.
(Ataturk Mausoleum): Located on an imposing hill in the Anittepe quarter
of the city stands the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic
of Turkey. Completed in 1953, it is an impressive, fusion of ancient and
modem architectural ideas and remains unsurpassed as an accomplishment of
modem Turkish architecture.
There is a
museum housing a superior wax statue of Ataturk; writings, letters and items
belonging to him, as well as an exhibition of photographs recording
important moments in his life and in the establishment of the Republic.
(Anitkabir is open everyday, and the museum every day except Mondays. During
the summer, there is a light and sound show in the evenings).
of Anatolian Civilizations is close to the citadel entrance. An old
bedesten (covered bazaar) has been beautifully restored and now houses a
marvelous and unique collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite,
Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman works and showpiece Lydian treasures. (Open
every day, except Monday. During the summer, the museum opens every day).
Painting and Sculpture Museum
Ethnography Museum is opposite the Opera House on Talat Pasa Boulevard.
There is a fine collection of folkloric artifacts as well as artifacts from
Seljuk and Ottoman mosques. (Open every day, except Monday).
Painting and Sculpture Museum is close to the Ethnography Museum and
houses a rich collection of Turkish art from the late 19th century to the
present day. There are also galleries for guest exhibitions. (Open every
day, except Monday).
Liberation War Museum, diagonally
across the street from Ulus
Square, is in what was originally the first parliament building of the
Republic of Turkey. There the War of Liberation was planned and directed as
recorded in various photographs and items on exhibition. In another display
are wax figures of former presidents of the Republic of Turkey. (Open every
day, except Monday).
of the Republic, close to the Liberation War Museum, is housed in what
was the second parliament building of the Republic. The exhibition here
records important events in the early republican period. (Open every day,
except Monday). Ataturk's House is on the grounds of the Presidential
Palace in Cankaya and was Ataturk's house after the founding of the
Republic. The house is much as it was in Ataturk's day, and exhibits
photographs that record important events. (Open Sundays and on religious and
national holidays, 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm).
Natural History Museum can be found on the grounds of the MTA
(Mineral Research and Exploration Institute) on the Eskisehir road in
Ankara. The exhibits record the evolutionary development of the world. (Open
every day except religious holidays).
collections were begun between 1880 and 1888 by then Postal Director
The Museum in Altindag was
opened in 1982, and contains postal, telegraph, telephone, stamp
displays (Open weekdays).
The TRT Museum
(Turkish Radio & Television Broadcasting) has exhibits from the
beginning of radio in Turkey, including antique phonographs and radios.
It is located in the TRT General Directorate building in the Oran
district. (Open Mon.,Wed., Fri., 11 am - 3 pm).
Cultic Figure from Alacahoyuk,Museum of Anatolian Civilizations,
Akif Ersoy Museum, on the Hacettepe University Central Campus,
commemorates the famous national poet who, in this house, wrote the text
of the Turkish national anthem, as well as songs of independence, and
many poems. (Open weekdays from 10 am - 12 pm and 2 pm - 4 pm).
TCDD Open-air Locomotive Museum, near the railway station by Celal
Bayar Blvd., traces the history of steam locomotion through the
locomotives on display. (Open weekdays).
Cartography Museum, located in the Harita Genel Komutanligi building
in the Cebeci quarter, has old and new maps. (Open Tues. and Thurs. from
9 am - 12 pm and 2 pm - 5 pm).
Mother goddess from Catalhoyuk, Museum of Anatolian
Meteorology Museum on Sanatoryum Ave. in Kalaba, chronicles the
history of meteorology in Turkey. (Open weekdays).
Education Museum follows the history
and technology of education
in Turkey. It i's located in Ankara Gazi University, in the Besevler
district. (Open weekdays).
Toy Museum in Cebeci houses toys of all kinds made of wood, metal,
porcelain, paper, etc. (Open Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 am to 5 pm).
Museum on the campus of Middle East Technical University has
archeological artifacts and ethnographic displays. (Open weekdays, 9:30
am to 3:30 pm).
Ziraat Museum at the Ulus branch of the bank displays a rich
collection of coins and money in a building of architectural beauty.
(Open weekdays from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm)
Citadel: The foundations of the citadel were laid by the Galatians
on a prominent lava outcrop, and completed by the Romans. The Byzantines
and Seljuks made restorations and additions. The area around and inside
the citadel, being the oldest part of Ankara, contains many fine
examples of traditional architecture. There are also lovely green areas
in which to relax. It is well known that the Ankara region was the
cradle of wine in Hatti and Hittite times around 2000 B.C. Many restored
traditional Turkish houses in the area of the citadel have found new
life as restaurants, serving local and international dishes and wine.
Roman Theatre: The
remains, including pro-scene (stage), and scene (backstage),
can be seen outside the citadel. Roman statues that were found here are
exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The seating area is
still under excavation. Temple of Augustus: The temple is in the Ulus
quarter of the city. It was built by the Galatian King Pylamenes in 10 A.D.
as a tribute to Augustus, and was reconstructed by the Romans on the ancient
Ankara Acropolis in the 2nd century. It is important today for the "Monument
Ancyranum," the sole surviving "Political Testament" of Augustus, detailing
his achievements, inscribed on its walls in Latin and Greek. In the fifth
century the temple was converted into a church by the Byzantines.
Roman Bath: The bath,
situated on Cankiri Avenue in Ulus, has all the typical features: a
frigidarium (cold room), tepidarium (cool room) and caldarium
(hot room). They were built in the time of Emperor Caracalla (3rd
century A.D.) in honour of Asclepios, the god of medicine. Today only the
basement and first floors remain.
Column of Julian: This
column, in Ulus, was erected in 362 A.D., probably to commemorate a visit by
the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. It stands fifteen meters high and has
a typical leaf decoration on the capital.
Monument of the Republic: Erected in 1927 in Ulus Square, it is a
symbol of the struggle
for independence on the part of Ataturk and the Turkish people in the War of
Monument to a Secure,
Confident Future: This monument, in Guven Park, was erected in 1935 and
bears Ataturk's advice to his people: "Be proud, hardworking, and believe in
Erected in 1927 in Zafer Square in the Sihhiye quarter, it depicts Ataturk
Hatti Monument: Built
in the 1970's in Sihhiye Square, this impressive monument symbolizes the
Hatti gods and commemorates Anatolia's earliest known civilization.
Bayrarn Mosque: This mosque, in Ulus, next to the Temple of Augustus,
was built in the early 15th century in Seljuk style and was subsequently
restored by Sinan in the 16th century, with Kutahya tiles being added in the
18th century. The mosque was built in honor of Haci Bayram Veli, whose tomb
is next to the mosque.
Mosque: This Seljuk mosque, near the citadel, was built in the 13th
century. The mosque has a mihrap (prayer niche showing the direction to
Mecca) of Seljuk tiles, and an unusual double colonnade of wooden columns.
Next to the mosque is the tomb of Ahi Serafeddin.
Ahi Elvan Mosque:
Found in the Ulus quarter near the Citadel, this mosque was built and
finished during the late 14th and early 15th centuries. The finely carved
walnut mimber (pulpit) is of particular interest.
Mosque: This mosque is inside the Citadel walls. It has a carved walnut
mimber, the inscription on which shows that the mosque was built in the 12th
century by the Seljuk ruler, Mesut.
(Cenab Ahmet) Mosque: This is the largest Ottoman mosque in Ankara and
was built by the famous architect Sinan in the 16th century. The mimber
(pulpit) and mihrap (prayer niche) are of white marble, and the mosque
itself is of Ankara stone (red porphyry), an example of very fine
workmanship. Yeni Cami is on Ulucanlar Avenue.
Presidential Symphony, Orchestra
Mosque: This is a 20th century mosque of great size in classical Ottoman
design with four minarets. Built between 1967 and 1987 in the Kocatepe
quarter, its size and prominent situation have made it a landmark.
many delightful parks and open spaces established in the early years of the
Republic in accordance with Ataturk's belief in the importance of trees and
natural beauty. The most important of these parks are: Genclik Park
(which also has an amusement park), the Botanical Garden, Segmenler,
Anayasa, Kugulu, Abdi Ipekci, Guven, Demetevler, Cemre, Kale, Anit, Kurtulus
(for ice skating) and Altin Park (Fairground).
Orman Ciftligi Ataturk Farm and Zoo) is now within the growing city and
is a pleasant place to spend a day. There is also a replica of the house
where Ataturk was born in Salonica, an excellent restaurant, and some cafes.
Visitors can sample such famous products of the farm as its excellent beer,
old-fashioned ice cream, yogurt, milk, and meat rolls.
Ciftligi has a nine-hole golf course set in a lovely, peaceful
countryside environment located 40 km west of Ankara via Sincan.
ARTS AND CULTURE
Ankara is a
center for opera, ballet, jazz and modem dance, as well as home of the
prestigious Presidential Symphon Orchestra. Ankara benefits
from a large number of theatres staging many ambitious productions. In
addition to public and private galleries throughout the city, exhibitions
are also held at the Ataturk Cultural Center. The city also has many
cinemas showing the best Turkish and foreign films, and there are a number
of film festivals with various
themes throughout the year, in
particular the International Film Days in March. Every year in April
and May the city hosts the Sevda Cenap And International Arts and Music
Festival with performances by the finest Turkish and foreign musicians.
The Children's Festival on April 23 is also quite an event, with
groups of children from all over the world taking part. There is also an
International Cartoon Film Festival and the Asian-European Arts
Biennial scheduled sometime in the spring or summer. Altin Park is home
to the Ankara Fairgrounds where lovely fairs are held year-round.
the city usually like to visit the old shops in Cikrikcilar Yokusu
near Ulus. The street of copper workers (Bakircilar Carsisi) is
particularly popular, and many interesting old and new items, not just of
copper, can be found here, such as jewelry, carpets, costumes, antiques and
embroidery. Walking up the hill to the citadel gate, you find many
interesting shops selling spices, dried fruits, nuts, and all manner of
produce; the selection is huge and very fresh. Modem shopping areas are
mostly found in Kizilay, on Tunali Hilmi Avenue, including the modern
mall of Karum, and in the Atakule Tower in Cankaya. From the
top of Atakule (125 meters) there is a magnificent view over the whole city.
There is also a revolving restaurant where the complete panorama can be
enjoyed in a more leisurely fashion. The Galleria, in Umitkoy and
Bilkent Center are other contemporary shopping opportunities.
ENVIRONS OF ANKARA
kilometers to the south of Ankara on the Konya road is Golbasi Lake,
a popular place to visit for its attractive scenery and its fine lake side
restaurants. Incek, 15 km southwest of Ankara, is a favorite rest
area for locals, with its lovely fruit trees, green areas and picnic sites.
Another favorite place for picnics is Karagol Lake, 68 km north of
the city on the airport road, for which one should take the turn off for the
town of Cubuk.
dams around the city, Cubuk (15 km on the Cankiri Highway),
Kurtbogazi (50 km on the Istanbul Highway) and Bayindir (15 km on
the Kirikkale Highway) are pleasant places to visit for swimming and
picnicking. There are also restaurants, and at Bayindir, good camping
facilities. Other dams in the Ankara province include Sariyer, Kesikkopru,
Hirfanli, Asartepe, and Camlidere.
delight in exploring the three main forests around Ankara. South of the
city, on the Kirsehir Highway (54 km), is the Beynam Forest, while to
the north, on the Istanbul Highway (82 km), is the Kizilcahamam Soguksu
National Park and farther along in the same direction (110 km), is the
Camkoru Forest. All are delightful retreats from the clamor of the
city, and each provides many lovely places for picnics.
Mountain (1,855 meters), some 23 kilometers east of Ankara, can be seen
from most parts of the city. The first snowfall on the mountain heralds the
start of winter and the beginning of skiing, and other winter sports to be
enjoyed at the pleasant resort center there.
In the province of Ankara there are six thermal centers: Kizilcahamam
Kaplica 80 km to the north, Haymana Kaplica 72 km to the south,
and to the northwest are Ayas Kaplica (57 km), Dutlu Kaplica
(85 km) Meliksah in Cubuk (30 km), and Malikoy in
Polatli (80 km). All offer comfortable facilities in which to soak away your
cares. The thermal baths have beneficial properties and are, of course,
Gavurkalesi, 60 km from Ankara on the Haymana Highway near Derekoy,
the remains of an open-air Hittite temple, a tomb and two reliefs of
Hittite gods can be seen.
Sphinx gate, Alacahoyuk, Corum
important Phrygian sites in Anatolia are to be found in the provinces of
Ankara, Eskisehir and Afyon. Yassihoyuk (Gordion), 105 km southwest
of Ankara on the Eskisehir highway, was the capital of Phrygia and the place
where Alexander the Great cut the Gordion Knot to gain the key to Asia. The
tumulus of King Midas, who turned whatever he touched to gold, can be
visited here. Nearby, the remains of the ancient city Gordion. still under
excavation, and a small museum are worth a quick tour. Farther along the
same Ankara-Eskisehir road is Ballihisar (Pessinus), an important
Phrygian religious cult center. The most important remains are those of a
temple to Cybele, the mother goddess whose worship was at the heart of the
Phrygian culture. The small open air museum has some interesting sculptures
City (Yazili Kaya), between Afyon and Eskisehir, two enormous facades
cut into a rocky promontory once held cult statues for the worship of Cybele
in their niches. Throughout the area rock tombs, cave- like openings, pierce
the sand colored stone. An underground passage leads from the site to the
Twelve Gods in Yazlikaya - Hattusas, Corum
and Astankaya were both centers of cult worship in Phrygian times. The
former, 34 km north of Afyon, has two monumental lion reliefs; the latter,
52 km from Afyon, comprises a temple and a lion relief. Other Phrygian
monuments can be explored at nearby Doganlikale, Kumbet and Deveboynu.
founded by the Phrygians in the first millennium B.C. on the banks of the
Porsuk River. Significant architectural monuments include the 13th
century Alaeddin Mosque and the 16th century
Kursunlu Complex. All four of the city museums are worth visiting:
the Archeological Museum has Phrygian artifacts and
sculptures from the area; the Meerschaum Pipe Museum
displays pipes and other meerschaum works; the Yesil Efendi Ottoman
House Museum, a fine example of 19th-century domestic architecture,
houses a collection of local ethnographia as well as fireplaces where
meerschaum is cured; and the Ataturk Culture Museum has a
photographic exhibition taken from Ataturk's life, a number of personal
effects and a display of items made of meerschaum. The world's best
meerschaum comes from mines in the area surrounding Eskisehir. Pipes and
other objects can be purchased in the city souvenir shops. Sakaryabasi,
a spring- fed lake surrounded by beautiful park land, draws many
visitors who want to enjoy the fresh air and eat fresh fish in one of the
Seyit Battal Gazi Mosque Complex, Eskisehir
derives from its many typical Ottoman houses which imbue the town with an
air of bygone elegance. The 13th-century Ulu Mosque,
formerly a caravanserai, and the Alemsah Mausoleum are very interesting and
worth a visit. Connoisseurs of carpets and kilims know that kilims from
Sivrihisar are particularly prized. Near Sivrihisar, in the village
Nasrettin Hoca, the Nasrettin Hoca Museum has ethnographical displays as
well as amusing stories and pictures about the famous fabler.
Relief of God and King in Hattusas, Corum
hillside above Seyyit Battal Gazi stands the imposing 13th-century
mosque and tomb complex built in memory of the "warrior of Islam," Seyyit
Village (Sarikoy) is the burial place of Yunus Emre, the great
13th century poet. His poetry lives today, with its message of love and
humanity as relevant as ever. Commemorative celebrations au held in the town
every May. In addition visitors to his grave can see a small museum,
dedicated to his life and works.
NORTH OF ANKARA
third-century B.C. Galatian settlement of Gangrea is the foundation
of present day Cankiri, 135 km from Ankara. The earliest evidence of
civilization are dated at about 3000 B.C. There are important tumuli (burial
mounds) in this province, as well as artifacts from various civilizations in
the Cankiri Museum. The ruins of an 11th-century fortress
overlook the city. In town, the Ulu Mosque (Sultan
Suleyman), completed in 1558 by Turkey's greatest architect, Sinan, recalls
the years of Ottoman culture. The Cavundur thermal spa has
bathing and drinking water beneficial for rheumatic and inflammatory
diseases. The waters flow from the ground at 54 C at a rate of 47
liters/second. Tas Mescit, or Cemaleddin Ferruh
Darulhadisi, a medieval hospital built in 1242, lies just outside the city.
North of Cankiri is the beautiful Ilgaz National Park and Ski Center.
In the park, Kadin Cayiri is a particularly lovely rest area with
pools, green areas and cafes. Near Eldivan, 15 km southwest of
Cankiri, is Bulbulpinari, a picturesque rest area with lush greenery
and picnic spots.
AND EAST OF ANKARA
is a rapidly expanding industrial center on the major highway that leads
east out of Ankara to the Black Sea. Passing by Kirikkale is the
Kizilirmak River, known in ancient times as Halys, where you can
spend a pleasant afternoon relaxing in one of the restaurants, set in the
pastoral landscape, or visit the restful Celal Bayar Park. In
Kirikkale, the Gun Museum displays different types of guns
that are made in Kirikkale's gun factories.
Decorative ceiling in Merzifon, Amasya
highway divides, the eastern fork leads to Yozgat, 217 km from
Ankara. Founded in the 18th century by the Ottomans, this city has two
important buildings from this period, the Capanoglu Mosque
and the adjoining Suleyman Bey Mosque. The 19th century
Nizamoglu Mansion, an attractive example of domestic
Turkish architecture, now houses ethnographical exhibits. The Yusuf
Karslioglu Mansion Archeological Museum has Hittite, Phrygian,
Roman and Byzantine artifacts. Camlik National Park is a few
kilometers south of the city.
All the major
early-Hittite sites lie in the province of Corum in Bogazkale National
Park, between Yozgat and the city of Corum. Impressive double walls
running past the Royal Gate, the Lion Gate and the Yer Kapi (an underground
tunnel), ring the Hittite city of Hattusas, known today as Bogazkale.
The more than 70 temples in the city made this the Hittite religious center
and gave it the name, "City of Temples". The largest ruins are those of the
great temple to the storm god Teshup. The Acropolis contained government
buildings, the imperial Palace and the archives of the Hittite Empire. In
1180 B.C. the Phrygians devastated the city. After thorough excavations at
the site, the city walls are now being extensively restored.
Yazilikaya, an open-air rock pantheon dating from the 13th century B.C.,
contains fine reliefs of all the Hittite gods and goddesses.
Alacahoyuk, north of
Bogazkale on the road to Corum, was the center of the flourishing Hattian
culture during the Bronze Age. The magnificent Hattian gold and bronze
objects in the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara
were found in the Royal Tombs dating from this period. All the standing
remains at Alacahoyuk, however, such as the Sphinx Gate, date from the
Hittite period. Important Hittite settlements in the province of Corum
include Alisar and Masathoyuk, as well as Sapinuva in the
county of Ortakoy, which is situated in beautiful countryside along
the Cekerek River. Sapinuva was the second most important Hittite
city in the kingdom. Between the Abdullah and Kargi Plateaus is the
village of Hacihamza with interesting regional architecture.
an important city on the road from central Anatolia to the Black Sea,
produces the finest chickpeas in Turkey. Significant historical buildings
include the 13th century Ulu Mosque and the 19th century clocktower. The
tower, which was built in the shape of a minaret, is 27.5 m high, 5.3 m in
diameter, and has an eight-sided base and is ascended by an 81-step circular
town of Merzifon, 49 km northwest of Amasya, has several Ottoman
monuments, including the 15th century Celebi Sultan Mehmet Medrese
(theological college), the 17th century Kara Mustafa Pasa Mosque,
and the 19th century clock tower. There are also sights worth seeing in
Gumushacikoy, 22 km from Merzifon, including a 19th century
bazaar, the 15th century Haliliye Medrese, and 18th and
19th century Yakup Pasa Darphane, and Maden mosques.
Set in a
narrow gorge of the Yesilirmak (Iris) River, Amasya dates from the
third century B.C. The ruins of the citadel rise from the craggy rock and
contain an Ottoman palace and a secret underground passageway. Hewn into the
rock face above the city, are impressive Roman rock tombs that are
illuminated at night creating a spectacular image. The beauty of the natural
surroundings and the splendid architectural legacy have combined to endow
the city a reputation as one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey. Among
the sights of interest for visitors are the 13th-century Seljuk
Burmali Minare Mosque, the Torumtay Tomb, the
Gokmedrese Mosque, the 14th century Ilhanid
Hospital with lovely reliefs around its portal, the 15th century
Beyazit 1 Mosque complex and the unusual octagonal
Kapi Aga Medrese.
Tashan (Voyvodahan), Tokat
Turkish wooden mansions, or konaks, on the north bank of the Yesihrmak River
in the Hatuniye quarter (Yaliboyu), have been restored to
their former splendor, and some of these have been turned into guest houses.
The restored 19th-century Hazeranlar Konagi,
one of the loveliest, now houses an art gallery on the first floor and the
Ethnography Museum on the second. The
Archeology Museum has an interesting
collection of regional artifacts including mummies of the Ilhanid Mongol
rulers of Amasya. Cafes, restaurants, tea
gardens and parks line the
riverside and provide tranquil spots from which to enjoy the city's romantic
atmosphere. From the top of Cakallar Hill you have a beautiful view
of the city.
places for relaxing are located near Amasya. Set amid
magnificent mountain scenery, Borabay Mountain Lake is one such
popular place for day trips. It is 63 km northeast of Amasya at an elevation
of 1,050 m. Seven Swans Bird Heaven is a refuge for
migratory birds 32 km from Amasya. And Terzikoy Thermal Spring,
with hotel and motel facilities, is 36 km away.
province of Amasya is filled with orchards, which produce some of the
world's most delicious apples.
Tokat, also on the
Yesilirmak River, has many Seljuk and Ottoman monuments which lend a
picturesque yet solemn aesthetic to the cityscape. Among the main historical
buildings are the ruins of a 28-tower castle, the 11th century
Garipler Mosque and a Seljuk bridge. The 13th
century Pervane Bey Darussifasi (Gok Medrese), one of
Tokat's finest buildings, is now the Archeology Museum. A regional
commercial center, Tokat has retained many of its old commercial warehouses,
including the Tashan, Suluhan, Yagcioglu Ham and Gazi Emir (Yazmacilar) Ham.
A walk down Sulu Sokak in the city center, a street lined with inns,
mausoleums, bazaars and baths, provides an excellent overview of the city's
architecture. In the Gazi Emir (Yazmacilar) Hain you can
find many specimens of block-printed cloth, a 300 year-old tradition for
which Tokat is famous. A tradition of carved and painted wood decoration and
painted murals give the konaks (mansions) of Tokat a particular elegance.
The 19th century Madimagin Celalin Konak and the Latifoglu Konak have been
restored to their former splendor to give a vivid picture of the good life
in rural Turkey 100 years ago. The Ballica Cave in Tokat, containing
many fossils, is also a must. It is 680 m long with five underground levels
and eight large rooms. The air in this stalactites and stalagmites filled
cave is beneficial for sufferers of asthma.
In 47 BC, the Romans
conquered the four cities of Komana, Zela (Zile), Neccaesarea (Niksar), and
Sebastapolis (Sulusaray) which were included in the province of Pontus in
the first century AD.
Niksar, 69 km
northeast of Tokat, was once the capital of the Danismend Emirs. The town
has a well-preserved citadel as well as early Turkish monuments, including
the Coregi Buyuk Mosque, which boasts a very fine 12th century carved stone
portal. It was in Zile, south of Amasya and west of Tokat that Julius
Caesar, after a particularly speedy battle, quaffed a cup of Tokat's fine
local wine, and declared his famous "Veni, vidi, vici." Beneath the citadel
which guards the city stands the restored Ulu Mosque of 1269.
an important commercial center during the Middle Ages, stood at the junction
of the caravan routes to Persia and Baghdad. Between 1142 and 1171 it was
the capital of the Danismend Emirs and a vitally important urban center
during Seljuk rule. The remaining architectural monuments reflect this
formerly prominent position. The Ulu Mosque dates from the Danismend
Emirate. The Seljuk buildings include the 13th-century Izzeddin Keykavus
Sifahanesi, which was a hospital and medical school, the beautifully
decorated Gok Medrese, the twin minarets of the Cifte Minare Medrese and the
Buruciye Medrese all of which reflect the aesthetic of the Seljuk period.
In 1919, the
decision to liberate Turkey from occupying foreign powers was made by the
National Congress which was convened in Sivas. Today, the 19th- century
building where the congress was held has been restored as the Atatark and
Congress Museum, with War of Liberation and an ethnographic exhibits. In the
Buruciye Medrese, the Museum of Archeology and Stoneworks displays finds
from local digs as well as Islamic tombstones decorated with reliefs. The
19th century Akaylar Mansion Museum is now an ethnographic museum. In town,
there are excellent Sivas carpets for sale; the city has long had a
reputation for fine weaving. And in Sivrialan Village, the Asik
Veysel Museum commemorates the famous Turkish poet (1884-1973) who was born
here and who lived and died here.
Sivas Kangal Dog
68 km south of Sivas, is the home of Turkey's most famous breed of dog -
the kangal ("dog of the Galatians") which came with them in the 3rd century
B.C. Used as sheep dogs, these golden-haired animals have also proven
themselves in police and security work. Twelve km northeast of Kangal is the
famous Balikli Kaplica spa. At 36 degrees Celsius the waters contain
bicarbonate, calcium, and magnesium, and spring from the earth accompanied
by scores of tiny fish that are said to aid in the cure of skin complaints.
In the province of Sivas are the famous spas of Sicak Cermik (warm
spring) and Soguk Cermik (cold spring).
Byzantine outpost, Divrigi became the capital of the Turkish Mengucek
Emirs in the 12th and 13th centuries. Although very much off the beaten
track, visitors come to Divrigi to see the Ulu Mosque and Medrese of 1229.
Seljuk stonework reached its most exuberant expression in the animal and
flower carvings on the portals. UNESCO has declared this one of the world's
leading cultural heritage sites.
SOUTHEAST OF ANKARA
ancient times, Kirsehir became, in the Middle Ages, the
center of the Ahi Brotherhood, a Moslem sector whose moral and social tenets
played an important role in the spiritual and political life of Anatolian
towns. Among Kirsehir's many fine Seljuk buildings are the Cacabey Mosque of
1272, the Alaeddin Mosque of 1230, and the Ahi Evran Mosque, near the tomb
of the founder of the Ahi sect. Out of town, on the road toward Kayseri, is
the attractive Asik Pasa Mausoleum which was built during the period of
Mongol rule, in 1333. The Kirsehir Archeology Museum houses objects mostly
Cacabey Mosque, Kirsehir
A major archeological center
at Kalehoyuk, in Kaman county, in the province of Kirsehir is
still being excavated. Near Kalehoyurk in a center of what were Hatti
and Hittite settlements, is located one of the largest parks in Turkey,
the Mikasonmiya Ani Bahcesi which contains 16,500 trees of 33
different species. The road to Nevsehir and Cappadocia passes through
Hacibektas, the town where Haci Bektas Veli settled and established his
Bektas Sufi order in the 14th century. The whirling dervishes who
followed principles of love and humanism were housed in the monastery,
which includes a mausoleum and mosque. The complex is now a museum open
to the public. Honey and rose-colored onyx,
plentiful in the region,
were used by disciples of this order. There are exquisite onyx
souvenirs for sale. It is also worth stopping to take in the interesting
Archeology and Ethnography Museum.
a provincial capital, is the gateway to Cappadocia. In the
town itself are the hilltop Seljuk castle, perched on the highest
point in the city, and the Kursunlu Mosque, built for the Grand
Vizier Damat Ibrahim Pasha. The mosque is part of a complex of
buildings which includes a medrese (theological college), hospice
and library. An ablution fountain in the courtyard still bears its
original inscription. The Nevsehir Museum displays local artifacts.
Violent eruptions of the
volcanoes Mt. Erciyes (3,916 meters) and Mt. Hasan
(3,268 meters) long ago covered the plateau surrounding Nevsehir with
tufa, a soft stone comprised of lava, ash and mud. The wind and rain have
eroded this brittle rock and created a spectacular surrealistic landscape of
rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines, in colors that range from
warm reds and golds to cool greens and greys. Locals call these fascinating
capped pinnacles "peri bacalari" or "fairy chimneys." Goreme National
Park, known in Roman times as Cappadocia, is one of those rare regions
in the world where the works of man blend unobtrusively into the natural
surroundings. Dwellings have been hewn from the rocks as far back as 4,000
B.C. During Byzantine times, chapels and monasteries were hollowed out of
the rock, their ochre-toned frescoes reflecting the hues of the surrounding
landscape. Even today, cave dwellings in rock cones and village houses of
volcanic tufa merge harmoniously into the landscape.
a lively tourist center at the foot of a rock ridge riddled with old
dwellings, serves as an excellent base from which to tour the sights of
Cappadocia. In Urgup itself you can still see how people once lived in homes
cut into the rock. If you wish to buy carpets and kilims, there is a wide
selection available from the town's many carpet dealers, who are as colorful
as their hares, offering tea, coffee or a glass of wine to their customers
and engaging in friendly conversation. If sightseeing and shopping haven't
exhausted you, the disco welcomes you to another kind of entertainment. At
the center of a successful wine-producing region, Urgup hosts an annual
International Wine Festival in October.
and heading south, you reach the lovely isolated Pancarlik Valley
where you can stop to see the 12th century church with its splendid
frescoes, and the Kepez church, which dates from the 10th century.
Continue on to the typical village of Mustafapasa (Sinasos), where
traditional stone houses with carved and decorated facades evoke a former
age. Travel on in a southerly direction, just past the village of Cemil,
where a footpath on the west side of the road leads to Keslik Valley
where you will find a monastery complex and the Kara and Meyvali
Kiliseler (churches), both decorated with frescoes. Back on the main road
you find the village of Taskinpasa where the 14th century Karamanid
Mosque and Mausoleum Complex, and the remains of a medrese portal on the
edge of town make for a pleasant diversion. The next village is
Sahinefendi where the 12th-century Kirksehitler church, adorned with
beautiful frescoes, stands at the end of a footpath 500 meters east of the
Soganli Valley, 50 km
south of Urgup, is picturesque with its innumerable chapels, churches,
halls, houses and tombs. The frescoes, from the 8th to the 13th centuries,
trace the development of Byzantine painting. Four km north of Urgup is the
wonderful Devrent Valley, where the weather has eroded the stone into
peaks, cones and obelisks called fairy chimneys.
Two km west,
in the Catalkaya Valley, the fairy chimneys have a peculiar
mushroom-like shape, which has been adopted as a symbol of the town.
Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex of rock churches and chapels covered
with frescoes, is one of the best-known sites in central Turkey. Most of the
chapels date from the 10th to the 13th centuries (the Byzantine and Seljuk
periods) and many of them are built on an inscribed cross-plan with a
central cupola supported by four columns. In the north annexes of several
churches are cut-rock tombs. Among the most famous of the Goreme
churches are the Elmali Church, the smallest and most recent of the group;
the Yilanli Church with fascinating frescoes of the damned entwined in
serpent coils; the Barbara Church; and the Carikli Church. A short way from
the main group, the Tokali Kilise, or Buckle Church, has beautiful frescoes
depicting scenes from the New Testament.
The town of
Goreme is set right in the middle
of a valley of cones and fairy
chimneys. Some of the cafes, restaurants and guest-houses are carved into
the rock. For shoppers, rugs and kilims are plentiful.
the road out of Goreme you enter one of the most beautiful valleys in the
area. Rock formations rise up before you at every turn and entice you to
stop and wonder at their creation. For those who climb the steps to the top
of the Uchisar fortress the whole region unfolds below. Rugs, kilims,
and popular souvenirs can easily be purchased from the shops which line
Uchisar's narrow streets.
Karanlik Church, Goreme, National Park
Cavusin, on the road leading north out of Goreme you will find a
triple-apse church and the monastery of St. John the Baptist. In the town
are chapels and churches, and some of the rock houses are still inhabited.
From Cavusin to Zelve, fairy chimneys line the road. Unfortunately,
it is dangerous to visit the churches in the Zelve valley because erosion
has undermined the floors.
town of Avanos, on the banks of the Kizilirmak River, boasts
attractive local architecture and is known for its handicrafts. Every August
the town hosts an Art and Tourism Festival where a creative, friendly
Pottery is the most popular
handicraft and it is usually possible to try your hand at making a pot in
one of the many studios. Rug weaving and knotting is also making a
come-back. Leaving Avanos in a southerly direction you come to an
interesting Seljuk caravanserai, Sarihan.
Nevsehir - Urgup road you can't miss Ortahisar and its carved-rock
fortress. The churches in the Balkan Valley are some of the oldest in
the Goreme region. In the neighboring Hallac Valley, the Hallac
Monastery displays decorations from the 10th and the 11th centuries. North
of Ortahisar, the Kizilcukur Valley is breathtakingly beautiful,
especially at sunset. in the valley is the 9th-century Uzumlu church.
underground cities of Kaymakli, Mazi, Derinkuyu, Tatlarin, and Ozkonak
were all used by Christians of the seventh century, who were fleeing
from persecution. They sheltered from the iconoclastic strife of Byzantium
as well as other invasions in these safe and well-hidden complexes. These
cities were a complete and self-sufficient environment, areas for grain
storage, stables, sleeping chambers, kitchens and air shafts. Today they are
well-lit and an essential and fascinating part of a Cappadocian tour.
Avanos, Gulsehir has Hittite rock inscriptions, and nearby, at
Gokcetepe, there is a bas-relief of Zeus. South on the Nevsehir road is the
13th-century church of St. John, and farther along is Aciksaray,
where the carved rocks hide churches and chapels. West of Cappadocia, over
the mountains, lies Kayseri, known as Caesarea in Roman times. The
city spreads out at the foot of the extinct volcano, Mt. Erciyes
(3,916 m). In the winter months the ski center has excellent runs for
downhill skiers, and several pleasant hotels that cater to them. Close to
the Byzantine fortress, the 13th-century Huand Hatun Mosque and Medrese,
with the Mahperi Hatun Mausoleum, comprise the Huand Hatun Complex, the
first Seljuk complex in Anatolia. The Medrese is now an Ethnography Museum.
South of the complex, stands the beautifully decorated Doner Kumbet of 1276,
a Seljuk mausoleum of classic simplicity. A major Seljuk city, Kayseri was
an important center of learning and consequently, there are many medreses
among the remaining historic buildings. Those interested in the Seljuk
architecture should see the Cifte (Giyasiye and Sifahiye) Medrese, the first
Seljuk school of anatomy, which is now the Gevher Nesibe Medical History
Museum. Nearby is the lovely Sahabiye Medrese. Near the city's bedesten
(covered bazaar) is the restored 12th- century Ulu Mosque. The Haci Kilic
Mosque, north of the Cifte Medrese, dates from 1249. In the Cumhuriyet
quarter, the 19th-century Resit Aga Mansion houses the Ataturk Museum which
displays Ataturk's personal belongings.
Across from the Ataturk
Museum, the historic Gupguoglu Mansion is now an Ethnography Museum.
South of Kayseri, in
Develi, stand three more important Seljuk buildings: the Ulu Mosque, the
Seyid-i Serif Tomb and the Develi Tomb. The nearby Sultan Marshes are the
habitat of many bird species, of interest both to ornithologists and nature
Kayseri, Kultepe, known in ancient times as Kanesh or Karum, was one
of the earliest Hittite commercial Cities. Dating from 2000 B.C., Kultepe
was also one of the world's first cities of free trade. Today, however, only
the foundations remain. Many of the finds can be examined in the Kayseri
On the same
road is Sultanhan, a caravanserai built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin
Keykubat in the early 13th century and a favorite stop for tourists.
Ala Mountains, Nigde
Waterfall is 76 km south of Kayseri. In this beautiful natural site, seven
different springs on the mountain face fall from heights ranging between 30
and 70 m.
one of the most important carpet and kilim production centers in Anatolia.
Bunyan is the most famous carpet production center and Yahyali is the
most famous kilim production center. Rugs woven in finely knotted floral
patterns continue a centuries-old tradition. Local productions can be
purchased in any of the Kayseri carpet shops.
Nahita of Hittite times, lies in a valley flanked by volcanic peaks
commanding the ancient trade route from Anatolia to the Mediterranean.
Nigde's castle owes its present form to the Seljuks, and the elegant
Alaeddin Mosque dates from the same period. From the 14th century era of'
Mongol rule are the Sungur Bey Mosque and the Hudavend Hatun Mausoleum, an
excellent example of the Anatolian tower-tomb. The 15th-century Ak Medrese
now houses the Archeology Museum.
Ten km out of
town is Eskigumus, a Byzantine monastery and church with massive columns and
frescoes. These frescoes, dating from the 10th and the 11th centuries, are
among the best-preserved in the region.
Bor, south of
Nigde, was once a Hittite settlement, The town's historic buildings include
the Seljuk Alaeddin Mosque and the Ottoman bedesten. Farther on, in the same
direction, Kemerhisar is the site of the important Roman city of
Tyana. A few more kilometers brings you to some Hittite ruins and a Roman
aqueduct. The beautiful Aladaglar (Ala Mountains) National Park, perfect for
mountain climbing, trekking and relaxation, is 50 km southeast of Nigde. One
of the highest peaks is Demirkazik (3756 m). The best place to start
your excursion in the park is Cukurbag.
Most of the
historic buildings in Aksaray, such as the Ulu Mosque, date from the
14th century. The Kizil Minaret is noted for its attractive decorative
Two of the
most famous caravanserais from the Seljuk period are in the area: 40 km west
of the city is the well preserved Sultanhan Caravanserai built by the
Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, and 15 km towards Nevsehir is the
Mevlana Museum, Konya
Melendiz River, at IhIara Valley, has eroded the banks into an
impressive canyon. Byzantine rock chapels covered with frescoes pierce the
canyon walls. Some of the best known are the Agacalti (Daniel) Church, the
Yilanli (Apocalypse) Church and the Ala Mountains, Nigde Sumbullu
is another valley with dwellings dating from prehistoric times. You can
see the beautiful silhouette of Mt. Hasan rising like a crown above
the town. The valley's underground cities, buildings carved into the rock,
interesting architecture, churches, chapels and mosques embody all of the
characteristics of Cappadocia and give visitors a sense of historical
continuity. Guzelyurt is a popular tourist destination with hospitable
residents, extensive accommodations and numerous restaurants ensuring a
pleasant stay. The rest area of Evren by the Hirfanli Dam Lake
offers fish restaurants, a beach and swimming.
one of Turkey's oldest continuously inhabited cities was known as Iconium
in Roman times. The capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the
13th centuries, it is one of the great cultural centers of Turkey. During
that period of cultural, political and religious growth, the mystic Mevlana
Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the Whirling
Dervishes. The striking green-tiled mausoleum of Mevlana is Konya's most
famous building. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary is a
museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana's works and various artifacts related
to the mysticism of the sect. Every year, in the first half of December,
this still active religious order holds a ceremony commemorating the
Whirling Dervishes. The controlled, trance-like turning or sema of the
white-robed men produces a fascinating performance.
Mevlevi Sema Ceremony, Konya
Mosque was built on the site of the ancient Konya citadel in 1220, during
the reign of the great Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat and commands the
Konya skyline. To one side of the mosque are the remains of the Seljuk
Imperial Palace. The Karatay Medrese, now a museum, displays bold and
striking Seljuk ceramics. On the other side of the mosque, the Ince Minareli
Medrese of 1258 is remarkable for its marvelous baroque Seljuk portal. Other
Seljuk works include the Sircali Medrese and the Sahip Ata Complex. Visitors
find Konya's Archeological Museum of exceptional interest. The collection of
the Koyunoglu Museum is a varied one, from natural history to antique
kilims. Within the museum complex, the restored Izzettin Koyunoglu house
illustrates the way of life of a prosperous Konya family in the last
century. Sille, 10 km north of Konya, has the Byzantine Aya Eleni
church and several rock chapels with frescoes. Aksehir, to the
northwest, is known throughout Turkey as the birthplace of the 13th-century
humorist Nasrettin Hoca, whose mausoleum stands in the town. The 13th
century Ulu Mosque and the Altinkale Mescidi are other monuments worth
seeing. The Sahip Ata Mausoleum has been converted into the town's museum.
On the way
south to Beysehir, stop at Eflatun Pinar next to the lake to
see this unusual Hittite monumental fountain. Several interesting Seljuk
buildings are scattered around lovely Beysehir, on the shores of Lake
Beysehir, Turkey's third largest lake. In its southwestern region is the
pristine wilderness of Lake Beysehir, National Park. Among the
monuments are the Esrefoglu Mosque and Medrese, and the Kubad-Abad Summer
Palace across the lake. Another medieval palace stands on Kizkalesi
Island, opposite the Kubad-Abad Palace. Haci Akif island also offers
relaxation and recreation to visitors.
Catalhoyuk, 45 km
south of Konya, is a fascinating Neolithic site dating from the eighth
millennium B.C., which makes it one of the world's oldest towns.
Archeologists have determined that holes in the roofs of the mud houses
were their entrances. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara
houses the famous temple (reconstructed), along with mother-goddess
figures and Neolithic frescoes from the original site.
Reliefs in Ivriz, Konya
Surrounding Karapinar, 96 km east of Konya, are numerous crater
lakes; the most famous is the lovely Meke Crater Lake, seven km
southeast of Karapinar. On the north side of the road to Eregli, eight
km from Karapinar, lies Aci Crater Lake. In the center of the
lake is an island, which is a natural wonder. Surrounding Eregli, one of
the largest counties in the province of Konya, are yellow cherry trees.
The Eregli Archeological Museum displays many Hittite, Roman, Byzantine
and Seljuk artifacts.
a Hittite site 168 km east of Konya and 18 km south of Eregli, you can
see one of Turkey's finest neo-Hittite reliefs of a king and god of
Karaman was once the capital of the Karamanid Emirate, the first
Turkish state to use Turkish, instead of Persian, as its offical
language. Fittingly, Yunus Emre, the first great poet to write in
Turkish, lived here in the 13th century. The surrounding fortresses date
from Seljuk times, although the town's most significant buildings, the
Araboglu, Yunus Emre and Aktekke Mosques and the Hatuniye Medrese, were
all built during the Karamanid reign.
also the 4th-century remains of a monastery, church and a chapel
complex; called the Angel Michael Complex. A beautiful view is another
can still see the remains of churches and chapels at Madensehir,
45 km from Karaman, on the northern slope of Mt. Karadag.
30 km north of Karaman, was an important early Christian site-, one
of the many where St. Paul preached the gospel.
Taskale, 48 km east of Karaman, on the rocky northern slope of
Yesildere Valley, are the remains of the fascinating historic
city of Manazan. Built during Byzantine times, the entire city of
narrow lanes, houses, squares, storage facilities, chapels and
cemeteries (occupying an area approximately three kilometers long and
five stories high) was carved into the rocky hillside of the valley.
Today, parts of the city are still used for storing wheat.
Karaman up a steep narrow road are the remains of a beautiful Byzantine
monastery, Alahan. Much is still standing, and there is some fine
stone carving to admire. This magnificent location offers a breathtaking