• Why You Should Visit Turkey

    1. ARCHITECTURE

    For over 3,000 years Türkiye has witnessed numerous architectural styles of different civilisations. The country has more ruined Roman and Greek cities than there are in Italy and Greece, combined. The excavations and restoration of the once mighty city of Ephesus has revealed magnificent buildings, such as the Library of Celsus, which now stand as they did 2,000 years ago. Throughout Anatolia there are magnificent and impressive amphitheatres. The Greek theatres were used for sophisticated performances of plays and music, whilst their less refined Roman successors used the them as a venue for bloody gladiatorial fights.

     
    2. CUISINE
    Turkish cuisine is considered to be one of the finest in the world. Each region has its own disitinct receipes which combine only the freshest of meat and vegetables flavoured with aromatic spices from the east. In the warm summer sun, a breakfast of locally made goats cheese accompanied with tomatoes, pick fresh from the vine, cucumber, locally grown olives and warm fresh bread, all washed down with glasses of Black Sea tea is the perfect start to the day. Meze's and Soup, followed by fresh green salad tossed in virgin olive oil begin every lunch and dinner. Barbequed meats, peppers and egg plants seved on a platter of rice or cus - cus or maybe one of the many different types of Kebab are popular dishes. Vegetarians are in their element with the availability of the vast assortment of dishes, from stuffed peppers to vegetable casseroles. As for desserts, the large numbers of Patiseries, in even the smallest of towns, are a testimony to the Turkısh "sweet tooth". Rice pudding topped with cinnaman, Crem'e Caramel and the ubiqduitious Baklava are pure delight. One thing is for sure - Turkish cuisine is guaranteed to make your tastebuds tingle.

     
    3. CARPETS
    Ask anyone where can you find the best carpets in the world and the reply will, more than likely, be Persia. However carpet weaving was introduced into Anatolia by the Türkoman nomads from Central Asia. The striking designs and bright colours of Anatolian carpets have been compared with those from Central Asia and, in particular, Persia. Geometric patterns are most predominant and the inclusion of symbols such as The Tree of Life, which symbolises the axis of the world, and the scorpion, to ward off evil, were often incorporated into the design. Many also bore religious symbols such as the Cross, the Swastika and the Six Pointed Star. Motifs often expressed the emotional feelings of the carpet weaver and also reflected pre-Islamic beliefs of a particular clan or tribe.

     
    4. ACTIVITY SPORTS
    With its vast mountains, plains, seas and unspoilt scenery, Türkiye has begun to realize its vast potential as major venue for adventure sports. 
    Due to the popularity of Scuba Diving the Marmaris Belediye, sunk a derelict ship to enable divers to experience "wreck" diving. In the waters around the Bodrum peninsular there are ships and a C30 cargo plane which can be explored whilst he west coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula offers the opportunity to swim amongst the WW I ships that remain on the sea bed. The marine life is not the most spectacular but the varied rock formation and the excellent water clarity make diving interesting. Rock climbing is beginning to become more popular with the Aladağlar and the Beydağlari offering single and multi-pitch routes over the limestone peaks. Horse riding  centers cater for would be cowboys, with both solo and group rides into the forests and mountains. The three week or so walk along the "Lycian Way" is a challenge for even the most experienced hiker. The mild winter climate of Antalya means that the five Championship Golf Courses are open all year round. One of the most foremost rafting rivers in the world is the Coruh River, in the northeast. Riding the rapids, which in early summer can reach a heart stopping grade five, is only for the experienced rafter. Ideal conditions for sea kayaking can be found in the Kekova area.Palandoken, on the out skirts of Erzurum, offers the experienced skiers longer and more challenging pistes. With its modern hotels, ski lifts, fitness centers, up market shops and boutiques and a lively "apre-piste" scene, the town could easily be mistaken for a Tyrolean resort.

     
    5. FLORA AND FAUNA
    With an actual land mass exceeding 800,000Km2 Turkey is home to a huge variety of Flora and Fauna The deciduous forests are of particular beauty in the autumn when the mountains are ablaze with the splashes of changing colours. High above the alpine meadows there are an abundance of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. In the Aegean and Med regions  Bee keepers take advantage of the Pine trees to produce "Pine Honey" which has a distinct but pleasant flavour. In the Beşkonak region, north of Side, the rare Wild Mediterranean Cypress grow. On the slopes of the Taurus mountains the ancient Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani, and Junipers can be found. Amongst the trees is the "Maquis", a prickly assortment of bushes and plants, which include Holly Oak and wild herbs such as Thyme and Sage, and which is usually cropped low by the herds of goats and sheep. In the spring the meadows, orchards and scrub are ablaze with poppies, scabious, daisies, anemones, iris and many other wild flowers and bulbs such as crocus, snowdrops, wild hyacinths and cyclamen. In the spring the flowering rock roses and lavender attract vast numbers of butterflies. The Dilek Milliparki, with its flat marshland and 1,128m high mountains is home to many birds of prey, and scavengers such as the "Kara Akbaba", "Black Vulture", wild boar, stripped hyenas, jackals and the extremely rare mountain leopard. Cory Shearwaters are a common sight along the coastline. The forests are home to boar, red and roe deer, wolves and the odd bear or two.In the Kakar Mountains in the Taurus, Ibex, chamois, wolves and wild cats still roam in the more remote regions. Foxes, badgers and porcupines can often be seen, usually after dusk. In the Yaban Domuzu, wild boar, are frequently seen. The ground, which has been disturbed by the boars in their search for bulbs and roots, [sadly no truffles], is easily recognizably.
     
    6. RELIGION
    Despite many conservative strongholds, most Türkiye´s are very relaxed in their attitude to religion, but no matter where one travels within the country, the outward signs, mosques and minarets, are clearly visible and the calling of the faithful to prayer audible. Christianity played an important role in religious development and traces can be found throughout Anatolian history but only small Christian communities remain. These are made up of Syrian Orthodox, Armenians, Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholics and, mainly in İstanbul, a small Jewish community. Several references are made in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, such as Noah´s Ark, which it is said came to rest on Mount Ararat, and in the town of Harran, where Abraham lived with his family. In Hatay, ancient Antioch, the term "Christian" was first used in 40AD to describe the followers of Christ. The city became the centre from which the new religion spread across the Anatolian plains. In the last book of the Holy Bible, Revelation 1:11, the Seven Churches of Asia, Ephesus,  Laodicea, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Sarta,  Smyrna and Thyatira are mentioned The Ottoman Sultans welcomed peoples of different colour race and creed. Tolerance and respect of all religions is considered to be important to all Muslims.
     
    7. HOT AIR BALLOONING
    Just before the break of dawn the huge wicker basket with its 10 - 12 passengers rises slowly into the clear blue skies above the lunar landscape of Cappadocia. As these colourful giants glide silently over the lunar landscape, with its "fairy chimney's", the flight gives a whole new perspective to the rugged terrain below. This unforgetable experience of a lifetime is rounded off with a glass of Turkısh "Champagne".
  • The Heart of Yachting

    From the vast expanse of the Mediterranean the marinas of Gocek and Fethiye welcome luxury yachts and sailing boats of all sizes. Both ports are protected by tree covered mountains and offer the weary sailor typical Turkish hospitality.The quiet town of Gocek also popular with the flotillas, of sıx or eight yachts,  which travel from the more northerly ports of Bodrum and Marmaris. After leaving the port from which they weighed anchor in the previous night, the yachts sail, at their own leisure, to a pre arranged destination. On thier arrival, due to the limited galley space, the yachtsmen, and women, can be found in the cafe's and restaurants that the marina offers. The traditional Turkish receipes on offer are accompanied by fine Cappadcian wines.Further south, the larger marina of Fethiye boasts all the facilities the modern mariner requires. The Kordon, with its view across the Bay of Fethiye towards Calis Beach, has a large number of bars, cafés and restraunts which offer an array of ınternational dishes.   The old town district of Paspatur is home to the towns lively nightlife. Cafés with live music rub shoulders with discos where the young at heart can dance the night away  

    For those who wish to avoid the hustle and bustle there are numerous quiet bays and coves which are surrounded by pine clad hills. some of which can only be accessed by small boats, that offer peace and solitude. One can swim and snorkel in the turquoıse waters or just sunbathe on a comfortable lounger during the day  and later relax on deck, with a cocktail in hand, whilst watching a dramatic sunset.
  • Butterfly Valley & Kabak

    The natural beauty Butterfly Valley makes it one of the most important “ecotourism” attractions in Turkey. Situated at the foothills of Babadağ, “Dads Mountain”, the valley is a narrow canyon with walls of between 350-400m high and of some 4Km in length.

    Visitors sail from the resorts of Fethiye and Ölüdeniz to the wide sandy strip of the bay that protrudes from the valley. The walk along the trail brings you to two small waterfalls that cascade down the cliff face from 60m above. The welcoming ice cold water is the ideal place to cool off in the height of summer.

    The valley, which is abundant with flora and fauna takes its name from the large numbers of butterfly species that are found here between mid May and late September. Of the 105 species of butterflies recorded, 15 are native to the valley. One of the most common is the black and white stripped Jersey Tigermoth. There are also 147 species of flora, which belong to 54 families. 

    Close to the beach is a camp site and a small café offering basic fare.

    Further along the coast is Kabak Bay, 25km from Ölüdeniz. The winding coast road that hugs the cliff side climbs over the mountain towards the small village of Farayla. As the road descends into the village Butterfly Valley sits below. At the terminus the dolmuş drops its passengers at the “Last Stop” bufé and the narrow track, marked with red and white painted stones, winds its way down to the sea. The hike down takes around 45 minutes and one passes a number of small pensions which offer village type accommodation.    

    At the small bay of pristine sand there is a restaurant and hotel, with a small swimming pool. On the beach there are a number of large wooden frames, covered with palm leaves which afford the only shade from the hot summer sun. Although a popular anchorage with locals, the beach is rarely crowded and the area is a peaceful haven in which to relax. 

  • Oil Wrestling in Turkey

    As I had been unable to go to Edirne, east of Istanbul, to the biggest and most famous Oil Wrestling contest, I had to settle for a visit to the small town of Dirmil, close to my home town of Fethiye. On the Friday afternoon I met Val, and, after a little persuasion, she decided to accompany me the day after. A friend, Denise, had very kindly given me a backpack for a birthday present. which, when I opened it, was a picnic pack containing plates, cutlery, glasses, knapkins, tablecloth, waiters friend and a bottle cool-bag. Everything two people needed for a picnic. The only thing missing was a candelabra. So suitably armed with food, Efes beer and a large bottle of red wine, we set off at 8:30am on the two hour journey.The local football stadium was suitable decked out with bunting and flags and the DJ played Türkiyes music. The annual event had an air of a country fair, with makeshift stands selling homemade Suçuk, Garlic sausage, Dondurma, IceCream and, of course, the famous Baklava. But we quickly realised that we should have caught the 10:30 bus, as the wrestling would not begin until 2:30pm, but the advertising posters did not reveal that little tıt-bıt. We took a place in the stands and, to the amazement of the locals, laid out our picnic on the tablecloth. Definitely tourists ! As there was no shade and a thirst had set I opened the six pack whilst Val opened the bottle of red and as lunch time approached we started to tuck in. As we finished our picnic a group of young boys, some as young as sıx years old, and young men aged from early teens to late 30's, finally arrived in knee length leather breeches and began pouring corn oil, [olive oil being too expensive], over themselves and then began the ritual warming up exercises. At 2pm the boys lined up and everyone stood for the national anthem, which was followed by numerous speeches from the Mayor and the sponsers, which seemed to go on for an eternity. The competitors were, according to height, divided into eleven classes. The serious business then got underway wiith the slippy bodies writhing in the grass. There is no time limit on the length of the bout, in which the object is to pin ones opponent to the floor by his shoulders

    The winners of each class competed for the title "Baspehlivan","Champion Wrestler". The champion was paraded around the stadium on his opponents shoulders and was presented with the coveted Champions Belt and a small cash prize and he admiration and esteem of his fellow contestants.

    The sun, Efe's and the wine took its toll and we packed everything away into the sack. Walking to the otogar I lost my footing, missed a step, and with the grace of a drunkard, fell onto the stone floor ripping my knees to pieces.

    Roll on next year!

    Article was written by AL 

     
  • Hans

    The Han's, better known as Caravanserai, were a common feature along the major trading routes of the Central Anatolian Plains. They were constructed, along the continental routes from the Eastern borders to the Aegean coast in the west, with large thick walls and richly decorated portals. The large courtyard was usually surrounded by vaulted arcades and their design was typical of the Selçuk period. With the policy of encouraging trade as a source of state revenue, 132 hans were constructed during the 12th and 13thC, in just 80 years by Sultans, Viziers and important officials. The caravanserai were basically fortified inns, but they not only provided shelter, they offered food and security for the traders, and their goods, along with fodder and stabling for their animals. Vets were on hand to tend sick animals and craftsmen sold new and repaired broken tack. Usually there was a small mosque and a wash house. The Romans and the Mongols also built fortified barracks along their roads but the facilities were not as extensive as the Selçuk Hans, which were unique in offering shelter and services to any traveller. They were partially financed by an annual tax which was levied on all merchants, irrespective of  race, colour or creed. The safety of the traders goods and livestock were guaranteed by the Selçuk court. This was one of the earliest known insurance schemes and thefts were reduced when the local populations were held responsible for the safe passage of the caravans. Where bandits continued to attack and loot, the locals were hit with punitive taxes, whilst those in safer districts were rewarded with lower ones. This system ensured a level of security not known in previous years. It was said that a man could walk from Lake Van to the Aegean with a pot of gold on his head, in complete safety. The system of the Hans required an efficient central administration but with the defeat of the Selçuks by the Mongols in 1243 their glorious age came to an end. During Ottoman times they were still constructed but never regained their former prominence. There are a number of interesting Hans, the Sultan Hani, located between Aksaray and Konya, which was built in 1229 by Sultan Alæddin Keykubad I, is the largest in Anatolia. It has been restored several times, most recently in 1972. Other well known Hans include the San Han near Avanos and the Karatay Han east of Kayseri. There are many others, far too many to mention. Today large numbers of these fortresses have been converted into shopping centers and hotels.

  • Marmaray

    The European and Asian sides of İstanbul have been connected for the first time with a railway tunnel, named the “Marmaray”, constructed under the Bosporus by a Türkiyes-Japanese consortium, thus fulfilling a 150-year-old dream. Sultan Abdülmecid II proposed the construction of the tunnel and designs were submitted by French, British and American architects to the Sultan in 1891. But because of insufficiant technological, and later, due to the fact that the state was virtually bankrupt, the project did not come into fruition until the late 1990s, when the first feasibility studies were started. But the work dıd not commence until 2005 and it was officially opened on the 10th of November, 2013, the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Türkiye's Republic. Named the "Modern Day Silk Road", the Marmaray will provide a direct railway route connecting China to Western Europe.The world’s deepest submerged underwater railway tunnel , 62m, 203.5ft, at its deepest point, was scheduled for completion in 2009. But as engineers commenced excavations, incredible archaeological findings started to be uncovered. Historians and archaeologists have been, for hundreds of years, of the opinion, that the city was around 6,000 years old. Amazing artefacts and a large number of merchant ships were unearthed. Using scientific methods, such as carbon dating, the archaeologists discovered that İstanbul’s history dates back 8,500 years. The biggest obstacle to the project’s completion has been the discovery of 40,000 artefacts at Yenikapı. Despite criticism about whether or not it was risky to construct such a crossing in a major earthquake zone, the government decided to give the project the green light. The tunnel is designed to be resistant to a quake of a magnitude of more than 9.0. It runs parallel to the seismic fault line in the Marmara Sea, which reduces risks.Engineers consider the tunnel to be, ın the event of a quake,  the "safest place to be in.” It has a maximum capacity of 1.5 million passengers a day and is expected to alleviate 20 percent of the thousands of cars which pour into the centre every day causing the chaotic traffic congestion. A second underwater crossing construction, only for cars, is under construction, and is scheduled to be in service by 2015.The third suspension bridge, the Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, over Bosporus is also scheduled to be completed in the same year. This will increase the total number of connections between the European and Asian sides of the city to five.The bridges and tunnels are expected to transport around one million people per day by connecting the continents in just four minutes.The estimated cost of this major civil engineering feat of aproximately 9.3 billion Türkiye's Liras, $4.5 billion, will,hopefully, after the completion of all the stages, be an effective remedy to İstanbul’s chronic traffic congestion problems along the Bosporus.Initially only one section, between Kazlıçeşme station on the European side and the Ayrılıkçeşme station on the Asian side, began  operating.On the 11th of November the trains were scheduled to leave from Kazlıçeşme to reach Söğütlüçeşme on the Anatolian side after emerging out of the sea at Ayrılıkçeşme station, after covering a journey of almost 13.5 Km.Two different lines of rapid transport trains will be added into the Marmaray route, resulting in a huge 63Km transportation network through the city. Over 13,000m of tunnels are included in the project. The project, which will increase the number of railways within Istanbul’s inter-city transportation, will also have a connection with the İstanbul-Ankara high speed rail route.The main structures and systems include an immersed tube tunnel, bored tunnels, cut-and-cover tunnels and three new underground stations. 37 surface stations are to be renovatied and upgraded. A new operations control centre, shunting yards, workshops and maintenance facilities are to be constructed. The upgrades of existing tracks including a new third track, new electrical and mechanical systems and modern railway vehicles are also included in the project.Along side the remains of a shipwreck dating to the 4th to 5th centuries, named by archaeologists as “Liman 12,” artefacts and reliefs, inspired by the artefacts belonging to the Neolithic, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, will decorate the Yenikapi station entrances and interiors. The artefacts which were removed with the assistance of the Transportation Ministry and other state authorities,  were then controversially stored in depots due to budget constraints. A museum is to be established in the Yenikapi Hundred Islands area named "Arkeopark"

  • Architecture

    For over 3,000 years Türkiye has witnessed numerous architectural styles of different civilisations.The country has more ruined Roman and Greek cities than there are in Italy and Greece, combined.

    The excavations and restoration of the once mighty city of Ephesus has revealed magnificent buildings, such as the Library of Celsus, which now stand as they did 2,000 years ago. Throughout Anatolia there are magnificent and impressive amphitheatres.The Greek theatres were used for sophisticated performances of plays and music, whilst their less refined Roman successors used the them as a venue for bloody gladiatorial fights. The Roman theatre of Aspendos, remarkably, remains virtually intact. It boasts a semi-circular cavea, which is a characteristic design of the period, and a multi-storey backstage building. The 10,000 seat theatre of Pergamum is carved from the steep mountainside and affords a magnificent view across the countryside. Another fine theatre was built at Hierapolis, Pamukkale, by Emperor Hadrian in the 2ndC AD. During the Byzantine era the first imperial architects constructed churches and buildings using the most modern techniques. The revolutionary approaches were to surpass all previous designs and constructions, such as Hagia Sophia with its huge dome. Towards the end of the period Constantinople was endowed with many smaller, but no less magnificent churches such as St Saviour in Chora and the Church of the Pantocrator. The interiors were decorated with rich mosaics and frescoes. With the capture of the city by Fatih Sultan Mehmed these were covered with plaster, as opposed to being destroyed. Unwittingly the Muslims, in hiding them from view, preserved them. See Chapter:İstanbul. Book Three. The ramparts of the Theodosian walls, with nearly 200 watch towers, were a marvel of civil engineering. From the 11thC Türkiç invaders introduced eastern influences across Anatolia.

    The Selçuks were the most influential with their mix of Arab, Persian and Türkiye's traditions, which are evident in the design of their solid stone built carvanserais and seminaries which lined the trade routes such as the Silk Road. The portals are embellished with intricate geometric carvings and the minarets of mosques are covered with beautifully coloured tiles. Whilst the exterior of many mosques are fairly non-descript the interiors are often lavishly decorated with colourful tiles. The earliest Ottoman architecture can be found in Bursa. The Selçuk design was eventually superseded in the 14th-15thC by the more refined Ottoman design and it was to reach its zenith under the imperial architect, Sinan.  See Chapter:İstanbul. Book Three. Sinan excelled the work of Anthemeus of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, who designed Hagia Sophia, with the construction of the Selimiye in Edirne and Süleymaniye in İstanbul. After his death numerous Ottoman architects strove, without success, to equal his achievements. Eventually, in the mid 17thC, they succumbed to European influences. Dolmabahçe Sarayi, Çiğaran Sarayi and the Nuruosmaniye Camii, built in 1755, are examples of "Türkıye's Baroque," the styles of which are a confusing mix of designs, whilst considered by many to be over-opulent in decoration. During the 19thC an increasing number of European architects flocked to the city.

    The Swiss Fossati brothers and the British architect, Sir Charles Barry, constructed neo-renaissance buildings, such as the British Embassy, which now serves as the consulate.

    The turn of the century saw Italian Raimondo d'Aronco appointed Imperial Architect and he was responsible for the construction of art nouveau buildings, such as the Egyptian embassy.With the founding of the Republic the European trends were reversed with designers such as Kemalettin Bey and Vedat Tek drawing heavily on Ottoman heritage.

    With the economy of the 1930 in disarray and the shortage of modern building materials, modernism began to surface, in particular in Ankara. This period was short lived and post war Türkiye has been dominated by a need to accommodate the rapid growth of the urban districts.

    This has resulted in many fine historical buildings falling into disrepair and, in many cases, being bulldozed to make way for the ugly concrete blocks which, today, dominate the skylines of many cities.

    Whilst much of Türkiye's architectural heritage has been lost forever under the massive urbanisation that has taken place all across the country, the government has begun to realize the importance of restoring and preserving the numerous building in the cities around the country. In May 2012 the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality published a booklet, "İstanbul: Rebirth of a Historical City", which lists all past, present and future projects.

    The total investment in the preservation of the city's cultural heritage and in promoting tourism has been, over a period of eight years, 2 Billion Türkiye's Lirasi, TL. 98 historical buildings during that period were restored and a further 21 are currently, 2012, under restoration. 32 million TL was spent on the mosques that dominate the İstanbul skyline. In 1918 the Alti Poğaca Camii was gutted by fire and in 1942 was demolished. The mosque, one of the oldest in the city, has been completely rebuilt.The Kücük Aya Sofya Camii has been restored and the numerous illegal buildings surrounding it have been demolished.

    Several other mosques such as the Ahi Celebi Camii and the Molla Zeyrek Camii are, as of May 2012, still under restoration. During archaeological excavations around the Molla Zeyrek mosque, cobblestones, dating back to the 18thC, were unearthed. Another reconstruction is the Ali Paşa Sarayi constructed by Sultan Abdülaziz I, in 1865 but which was burned to the ground in the early 1900's.The iconic Taxim Square is, much to the dismay of many, to be made traffic free and the present day Gezi Park is to become the home to the reconstruction of the historic Topçu Barracks which were destroyed in 1940 whıch are to rebuilt and are to serve as an art and cultural center, with an adjoining shopping mall. The Anemas Dungeons located in the Edirnekapi, are undergoing extensive restoration and will function as an art gallery. Professor Zeynep Ahunbay of the İstanbul Technical University's Faculty of Architecture commented on the rebuilding of the Ali Paşa Palace. "A concrete reconstruction never reflects the historical texture of the original one, apart from being similar in appearance." Mucella Yapici, of the Greater İstanbul Chamber of Architecture stated "The motive behind restoration should not be of financial benefit, but to pass our cultural heritage on to future generations."

  • Ihlara Valley

    The austere and rugged landscape of the Ilhara Valley, 49Km south of Nevşehir splits to reveal a fissure of some 15Km in length, which was created by the force of the rushing waters of the Melendez River which snakes its way through the canyon. In contrast to the barren volcanic landscape of the region the canyon, irrigated by the river, is home to lush and verdant vegetation. The villages are surrounded with vineyards, pistachio trees and poplars and the abundant wildlife is comprised of frogs, lizards, numerous birds and, because of the proliferation of wild flowers, hundreds of butterflies.

    People were originally drawn to the valley because of its fertility, whilst the early Christians were drawn because of its isolated location. The canyon became home to an estimated 4,000 dwellings and over 100 churches were sculpted into the soft porous tufa rock. 

    The most common starting point for hikers is the southern end of the valley, close to the village of Ilhara down a seemingly endless flight of 400 man-made steps. Hiking along the winding, sometimes rough, track on reaches the village of Belisirma, which was an ancient center of medicine. In this area mummification was practiced extensively and the Archaeological Museum in Niğde exhibit the mummy of a female found here. 

    Although some of the churches are a little difficult to reach those who make the effort are rewarded with decorative frescoes from the post-Iconoclastic period, from between the 10th and 13th centuries. The churches from the 8th or 9th century fall into two categories. The churches found around the entrance to the valley are those with Syrian or Egyptian influence whilst the churches around Belisirma reflect a  typical Byzantine style. 

    At the end of the canyon is the Selime Monastery, the largest religious building in Cappadocia, where a large number of leading clergymen were educated. The interior is divided into three sections by two rows of rock cut columns and arches. Basic ıcons from the early periods can be clearly seen but more detailed frescoes painted later are barely visible.

    The monastery contains monks quarters, a large kitchen and stables for livestock. The walls of these chambers were once decorated with frescoes but very little of these remain. There are a number of steep rocky stairways, rickety ladders and a few secret passageways. The panoramic views from the top of the walls is unforgettable. Important religious and military meetings were held in the courtyard.    .

    Across from the monastery is the Selime Sultan Turbesi, a rare example of a conical Anatolian tomb with an octagonal base, which from its architectural style and the materials used in its construction dates it from  the 13thC.

  • Diyarbakir Ulu Cami

    Located in the center of the Old City of Diyarbakir is the magnificent Ulu Cami, the Old Mosque. Once used as a place of worship and sacrifice, the ground was transformed into the Byzantine Church of St Thomas, Mar Toma, during the early 1stC AD. In 639AD when the cıty was conquered by the Prophet Omar, it was converted into a mosque, the Cami-iKabir, the Great Mosque, is proclaimed as the most important in all of Anatolia and is the fifth holiest site in Islam.on the site of. The towns Governor, Melikşah, rebuilt the mosque around 1091 but the building was gutted by fire and re-built in 1155. The building which can be seen today is of a Selçuk design, similar to the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus. The porticos which surround the rectangular courtyard are supported with marble columns with capitals which are adorned with elaborate carvings. It’s considered that the columns were plundered from earlier Byzantine buildings. The two storey porched section of the courtyard was constructed by two Visiors.

    The lower floor was built by Nisanoglu Ali and designed by Inanoğlu Mahmud in 1163 and the upper floor was constructed by Sari Abdürahman Paşa in 1764. The octagonal ablution fountain was built in 1849

    Thus, like so many other historic buildings, the mosque is a mixture of styles as opposed to the design of one architect. On the front of the main gateway and on the façade of the mosque there are lengthy scripts of calligraphy which is intertwined around the carvings of a bull and a lion. In the courtyard there is a sun dial, the work of the most notable Kurdish scientist, Abül al-'Iz Ibn İsmail ibn al-Razaz al-Jazarı, [known simply as al-Jazarı], who was born in Cizre, Cezeri, in 1136AD.

    At one point in its history the four sides of the mosque were designated to the four main denominations of Sunni Islam. Today the Shaffi and Hannafiyyah denominations have separate places of worship in the mosque, which date from the Inanoğullan period.There were two madreses within the complex, the Mesudiye and the Zinciriye.The Mesudiye Mendressi was built by Artukid Emir Qutb - al - Din Sokmen II in 1198, at the southern end and is believed to be the oldest university in Anatolia, where students still study the Holy Qur'an within its walls.The Zinciriye Mendressi was designed and constructed by İsa Ebu Dirhem in 1198 .  Its architecture aside, Ulu Cami is also interesting as a rare example of a mosque in which adherents of all four schools of Islamic law that make up the Sunni religion -- Hanafi, Shafi'i, Malaki and Hanbali -- would pray together, although a separate section of the prayer hall was set apart for the Shafi'i, just to the left of the main entrance.

  • Kizil Avlu (Red Court)

    On a visit to Pergamum some of the guests of "Private Tours Turkey" expressed a desire to view the Kizil Avlu, the huge "Red Basilica" of Pergamum, which takes its name from the colour of the bricks, and was constructed by the side of the approach road to the acropolis, across the River Bergama. The river passes under the basilica in two parallel tunnels and was constructed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. It was originally devoted to the Egyptian Gods Isis, Serapis and Harpocrates. It later became a church and today a section is used as a mosque. One of the largest statues unearthed in Pergamum is the lion-headed Egyptian goddess Sekhmet which has been restored and exhibited in the Basilica. The Egyptian statue pieces found during the excavations, which have been ongoing since 1930, by the German Excavation Institute, in the Red Basilica are among the most important statues from the Roman Empire. Among them, the lion-headed goddess statue was reconstructed thanks to the support of the Studiosus Foundation. The statue was placed in the upright position in 2012 and stands at a height of 8.5 meters.

    • Red Basilica