Ferda and Yasemin came by bus to Yalvaç to join Ahmet and me. The four of us pedaled together for a few days. They were hungry when they arrived, and Ahmet and I had just finished a good lunch at Ahmet Usta Pideci so we got some takeaway from the same place and delivered it to the bus station for the new riders.
We started off on rolling farmland south and east from Yalvaç, terrain quite different from the first two weeks of this tour.
Check out this perfect campsite that we happened upon east of Kuyucak — a flat area with trees and drinking water, far enough from the village that dogs probably wouldn’t been a problem. On a normal day it was probably time to camp, but as we got such a late start, we pushed on.
In Kozluçay villagers recommended camping at the reservoir above town. It turned out to be a fine choice, better than what I usually expect from a reservoir. There had clearly been successful effort with reforestation.
In the morning we climbed the pass on a dirt road with no traffic and descended, mostly very fast, on a paved road to Akşehir.
I knew there was a fair bit to see in Akşehir, but, wow, I was amazed with what we found there. It has undoubtedly the best preserved Ottoman neighborhood I’ve seen anywhere. Bitlis and Konya have impressive Ottoman buildings. Bursa has the çarşı/han/bedesten area. But Akşehir has worked hard to preserve a neighborhood with houses, mansions, places of worship, and a hamam.
Two large restoration projects appeared to be finishing up. The Armenian church:
I wondered if any Armenians had been consulted as part of the restoration project.
And the Gavur Hamamı:
I wondered if they had plans to make it into a functioning bath house like in Payas.
The most interesting mosque was the Ulu Camii with its tiled mıhrab.
Across the street is the archaeology museum housed in a beautiful mansion, the Rüstü Bey Konağı.
The exhibits in every room (arranged chronologically) were excellent. In the US this would be a first rate archaeology museum based on the collection, but in Turkey it’s just one of many. The highlights are perhaps this Ottoman wooden sanduka (sarcophagus):
and this hexagonal wooden “Bible box” (according to the description) with Christian iconography on each side:
Sorry for the bad photo. The lighting for that particular display needs to come from the bottom on each side (not the top, as it is) to highlight the painted iconography. My complaint there was exceptional. The museum is very well done.
For Ottoman enthusiasts the collection of Ottoman gravestones housed in a restored Ottoman medrese (madrassa) is probably worth visiting.
Akşehir has also done a good job of restoring the old çarşı (shopping area).
What Akşehir has to work on now is getting Turkish families to move into these newly restored historic houses. Some, like this one:
are lived in. But many, like these:
are empty and often have “for rent” or “for sale” signs. Turks seem to prefer multi-story concrete block construction with parquet floors, ample parking, and a security guard.
Oh, I’m sure I’d get grief for that sentence… if any of my Turkish friends actually read my blog!
Akşehir is perhaps best known in Turkey as the home of Nasreddin Hoca, a folksy 13th century story teller, philosopher, comic. Coincidentally we arrived in the city during the annual Nasreddin Hoca festival, and we were, of course, quite excited to visit his grave, supposedly one of Akşehir’s highlights. Hahaha, it was closed for restoration, a bit of irony that certainly wouldn’t be lost on Nasreddin Hoca himself.
I’ll end instead with a few more cityscapes:
Another nice adventure!