Bicycle touring Amasya İli

From Turhal to Amasya one could take a fairly flat road following the Yeşilırmak. I opted for a couple climbs, totally about 1100m, via Ardıçlar, Sarıyar, and Yassıçal. The forecast that day was for 35°C down low (at 400m), but it was pleasant at 1000m where I spent the night near Sarıyar.

IMG_20230905_104109 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230905_134930 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230905_150005 by bryandkeith on flickr

For being so close to the provincial capital (il merkezi) of Amasya I was surprised how remote the area NW of Sarıyar felt. The road was dirt with enough muddy sections to keep most cars away — not a single vehicle for the first 90 minutes of riding that morning.

IMG_20230906_081534_7 by bryandkeith on flickr

In the Alevi village of Yassıçal I visited the cem evi and the tomb of Erkonaş baba, a dervish leader.

IMG_20230906_092200 by bryandkeith on flickr

Amasya is firmly on the tourist circuit. I even saw foreigners, and at least one mosque had the front (toward the mihrap) cordoned off separating tourists from worshipers like they do in İstanbul. One attraction is the rock carved tombs of the Pontic kings from the 2nd century BCE. Amasya was their capital. The best tomb, and the one least visited by tourists because it’s out of town, is this one, Aynalı Mağara.

Aynalı Mağara, a 2nd century BCE Pontic King tomb (?) by bryandkeith on flickr

Amasya’s instagram shots take in the Yeşilırmak, the restored houses along its northern bank, and five Pontic king tombs on the cliffs above. A couple examples:

IMG_20230906_145216 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230906_142531 by bryandkeith on flickr

All these restored riverside houses are now boutique hotels with prices rivaling İstanbul, 2-3 times what I paid in Niksar or Tokat.

IMG_20230906_145615 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230906_120609 by bryandkeith on flickr

With a friend I’m sure staying there would be fun, but those places make me feel lonely when I’m by myself. I found a six-story business hotel where it was all single diners at breakfast. 🙂

The Pontic king tombs are to be appreciated from a distance. There’s not much to see when you get up close except a city view.

IMG_20230906_155110 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230906_153757_9 by bryandkeith on flickr

So what are all these tourists doing? Well, I guess seeing Ottoman and Selçuk monuments like in Tokat. There are some good ones. The biggest complex, the one with signs in English telling tourists what to do and not to do, is the 15th century Ottoman Sultan II. Bâyezit Camii. Details are more interesting than the overall architecture.

IMG_20230906_143343 by bryandkeith on flickr
15th century Ottoman Sultan II. Bâyezit Camii by bryandkeith on flickr

I also liked the details of another 15th century Ottoman mosque, Bayezid Paşa Camii.

IMG_20230906_164321 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230906_164129 by bryandkeith on flickr

The star attraction here though was the carved wooden entrance doors.

Could these beautiful doors be original? by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230906_164550 by bryandkeith on flickr

Wow, seriously? Are those original? The information signs didn’t say anything. Another visitor who also travels around Turkey visiting historic stuff and additionally happens to be a woodworker said the doors were hand carved from linden (ıhlamur) and looked old enough/authentic enough to be original. The only information I found on the internet simply says, “Giriş kapısı son derece zengin ahşap bezemelidir.” Roughly translated: the ornamental wooden entrance doors are extremely “rich” (intricate/detailed).

A lot was going on in the 15th century in Amasya. Another 15th century Ottoman mosque, Yörgüç Paşa Camii; details again:

15th century Ottoman Yörgüç Paşa Camii by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230907_083929 by bryandkeith on flickr

But I promised some Selçuk monuments as well, didn’t I? How ’bout the portal of the 14th century Selçuk Darüşşifa, perhaps inspired by the portal of the 13th century Mengücek Beylik Darüşşifa in Divriği?

14th century Selçuk Darüşşifa by bryandkeith on flickr

There’s also the 13th century Selçuk Künç Köprüsü, a bridge over the Yeşilırmak:

13th century Selçuk Künç Köprüsü by bryandkeith on flickr

The fat tower with turquoise tilework on the 13th century Selçuk Torumtay Türbesi reminded me of Rumi’s tomb in Konya.

13th century Selçuk Torumtay Türbesi by bryandkeith on flickr

The next-door Gök Medrese Camii is also 13th century Selçuk. As at Bayezid Paşa Camii the carved wooden entrance doors were impressive, but these were clearly new. What a surprise then to walk 400m east to Amasya’s excellent archaeology museum and find Gök Medrese Camii’s original doors!

IMG_20230907_094900 by bryandkeith on flickr
Main door of the Gökmedrese Camii (ebony, 1267) by bryandkeith on flickr
original, carved from ebony in 1267
IMG_20230907_085732 by bryandkeith on flickr
in situ replica

In addition to the standard (excellent!) collection for this part of Turkey stretching 5000 years from the early Bronze Age to the Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, Amasya’s museum houses three beautiful Roman mosaics rescued during highway improvement projects.

IMG_20230907_094451 by bryandkeith on flickr

Interesting that this one has apples because Amasya is now known throughout Turkey for its apples:

IMG_20230907_094309 by bryandkeith on flickr

Perhaps oddly after all that, my favorite monument in Amasya was the unusual (unique in Anatolia?) eight-sided 15th century Ottoman Büyükağa Medresesi.

15th century Ottoman Büyükağa Medresesi by bryandkeith on flickr

On the road again my next stop was Kritalla Antik Kenti (aka Oluz Höyük) where there’s evidence of what the Persians were doing in Anatolia in the 5th century BCE. The sign claimed they had uncovered evidence of the world’s oldest “archaic” monotheistic religion. The description sounded to me like a Zoroastrian fire temple. We learned a little about those from Ali outside of Yazd.

IMG_20230907_142921 by bryandkeith on flickr

It was mostly flat riding to the Çorum provincial border. See you there.

IMG_20230908_090624_7 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230908_074243 by bryandkeith on flickr
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One Response to Bicycle touring Amasya İli

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Another fascinating post. Happy New Year!

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