Between the Dedegöl Mountains and the Bolkar Mountains, I knew we’d have less stunning scenery, but I also knew there were some interesting cultural sites along the way. The highlights were expected to be the wooden mosque in Beyşehir, the ancient city of Kilistra, the Kubadabad Ottoman summer palace, and most excitingly Çatalhöyük.
As it turns out, we were one for four, but, hey!, the scenery was better than we expected. The first dud was the ruins of Kubadabad Palace just east of Yenişarbademli on the shore of Beyşehir Lake. It was just some piles of rocks from the 13th century.
We rode through a couple cute villages and then were stunned just how beautiful Beyşehir Lake is.
Near the lake we found a great campsite where we got our water from this well:
It was harder than expected for one person to use. We saw lots of this type of well in this area.
For some years I’ve wanted to come to Beyşehir to visit Eşrefoğlu Camii, an Ottoman-era mosque with a wooden roof and wooden columns. Wow, this place did not disappoint. It’s worth coming to Beyşehir just to visit this mosque.
In the center of the mosque is a large open storage area:
Until the 20th century the roof of the mosque was earth. The snow from the roof was collected and put in this storage area in the center of the mosque. As the snow slowly melted, it kept the humidity right to preserve the wooden construction. Apparently it worked for over 600 years. Since 1941 they’ve been doing something else.
Check out this tiled entrance as soon as you walk through the main door from the outside:
And what was even more stunning (and unexpected to me) was the tiled mihrab:
This reminded me that we missed the famous (?) tiled mihrab at the Alaeddin Mosque in Konya last winter. None of this tile work in Konya can compare to what you see in Esfahan, but still the Eşrefoğlu Mosque is a treasure.
This being Konya everyone said we had to try the etliekmek, really just a fancy word for kıymalı pide like you find all over Turkey.
However, Beyşehir has a beautiful setting right on Beyşehir Lake (Gölü) so we had to try the local fish specialty, sazan balığı. The translation is “carp”, but it didn’t look anything like carp we see in the US. And isn’t carp horrible to eat? This fish was tasty.
I assured Ferda Konya was flat, but we managed to climb 1100m up into the Alaca Mountains the following day. It was the most climbing Ferda did in one day on this trip (since she missed the very hilly first week of the tour) and more surprisingly it was higher (a rather modest 1750m amsl) than anywhere we rode a week before in the Dedegöl Mountains!
This area was greener than I expected with some pretty lakes. These are Dipsiz Gölü and Sülüklü Gölü.
Our descent down to Hatunsaray was brilliant. We stopped for lunch in Ketenli where a donkey was trimming the grass in the playground.
Here’s another one of these Ottoman-era cisterns:
Down, down, down,
but! Well, yes, there’s a but. Poor planning on my part. Maybe we should have taken a different road down (but we liked that descent so much!). Kilistra is not the same as Lystra. So often the names of these ancient sites have various versions and spellings. Lystra is near Hatunsaray. Kilistra is not. Not wanting to backtrack 18km and climb back up 400m we decided to leave Kilistra for another trip.
Maybe that’s fine ’cause we learned the next day we’ll also be leaving Çatalhöyük for another trip.
Çatalhöyük had been open a couple days before we arrived. Then some covid 19 cases turned up in the adjacent village, Küçükköy. In addition to quarantining the village, the health authorities also closed the tourist site. Certainly they’re trying to keep us healthy (and we’re trying to keep healthy by bicycle touring in remote areas) so I have nothing to complain about.
We pushed on toward Ayrancı and really got into the plains.
If you add water, it looks like this:
without water more like this:
The “höyük” (also spelled hüyük) of Çatalhöyük is a tumulus (or tel or tell), a mound of ancient civilizations. Archaeologists can learn a lot from these things. Most aren’t so interesting to visit for the non-expert, but Çatalhöyük, a UNESCO site, is supposed to be quite well done for visitors. There are many höyük in this area. Here’s another one:
These villagers in Türkmenkarahüyük:
have a large höyük just north of their village. A team of archaeologists is supposed to start work there this year. Ferda assured them that will bring tourism. I’m not so sure.
The older houses of their village have mud walls and thatched roofs.
Restoring these houses in the old style, like they’ve done in Shirakawa-go, will bring tourism, I assured them. But really I’m not so sure.
The area is pretty desolate.
The passenger terminal at the Ayrancı railway station is a more modern building, but, alas, there’s no longer passenger service.
Ferda took a bus back to Antalya. I headed into the Bolkar Mountains…
Great as always! While we have never prepared carp we have two German friends that prepared it for us one evening in their home and it is delicious if you know how to do it (we do not)–it does have a lot of bones, which makes for some tasty soup! Best, Derek and Jennie
Always an interesting narrative and great pictures!