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.
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.
In the Alevi village of Yassıçal I visited the cem evi and the tomb of Erkonaş baba, a dervish leader.
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.
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:
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.
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.
I also liked the details of another 15th century Ottoman mosque, Bayezid Paşa Camii.
The star attraction here though was the carved wooden entrance doors.
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:
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?
There’s also the 13th century Selçuk Künç Köprüsü, a bridge over the Yeşilırmak:
The fat tower with turquoise tilework on the 13th century Selçuk Torumtay Türbesi reminded me of Rumi’s tomb in Konya.
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!
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.
Interesting that this one has apples because Amasya is now known throughout Turkey for its apples:
Perhaps oddly after all that, my favorite monument in Amasya was the unusual (unique in Anatolia?) eight-sided 15th century Ottoman Büyükağa Medresesi.
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.
It was mostly flat riding to the Çorum provincial border. See you there.