The trip with Peter, Amy, Scott, and Stephanie was essentially a ski trip. However, one of the reasons I love touring in Turkey is you practically trip over history everywhere you go. I’m still not tired of this, and thankfully my travel companions weren’t so ski-focused to not enjoy some piles of old rocks.
On the contrary everyone was excited to take some time to visit a few historic structures. With the exception of the castle at Çavuştepe, all the sites were well worth the effort we took to visit. We started with a couple Georgian churches at Öşvank and Barhal. Sage and I had been to both these villages on our bicycle tour, but we hadn’t bothered making the short detour to the tremendous church at Barhal.
The church at Öşvank is in a bit of a state of disrepair:
but the one at Barhal is in surprisingly good condition:
perhaps because it’s still in use, now as a mosque:
We stopped at the old stone (Georgian?) bridge at Yaylalar:
and at the 13th century Çobandede Köprüsü in Köprüköy (Erzurum):
There’s a somewhat impressive castle on the hillside near Köprüköy, but we didn’t take the time to visit. We did stop to photograph Üngüzek Kalesi near Uzundere:
In the center of Erzurum the museum is housed in an old madrasa:
There are some kümbet (large tombs) strewn around the city:
and also the old castle (or maybe we’d say fort in English?):
In Gevaş we wandered a bit around this old Selçuk cemetery, the first of its kind that I’ve visited:
After all that, I think we’d all agree that the highlights were the Armenian churches at Akdamar and Altınsaç, the last sites we had a chance to see before flying out of Van the following day. Akdamar is, I guess, the name to both a nearby town, the island, and church on the island. It is well-deservedly on most tourists’ Lake Van itinerary. The church is well-preserved and well-restored, the carvings on the outside are in excellent condition, and the setting on the rocky island with the snow-covered peaks across the water is stunning.
The church near Altınsaç is not quite as easy to get to. It’s off the main highway about 20km, sitting on top of a hill 200m (?) above Lake Van. In the fading light we walked up the hill, wishing we’d been there 30 minutes earlier. Another fantastic setting.
Bye, bye, Lake Van.