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Ankara

The capital of Turkey lies in the northwestern part of the Anatolian plateau.  This is where Ataturk made his center of power as he fought against the Greek invasion in the 1920's.  We found it a little decrepit for a capital with a few well-maintained monuments and shopping centers for foreign diplomats, and many narrow and traffic-jammed streets.  On our first visit we wanted to visit the Anatolian museum and gave up due to lack of signs and parking.  On our second visit we took public transportation and found that the Museum of Anatolian Civilization was one of the best museums we have visited and the Ataturk Mausoleum was a fountain of information.  Aside from these two attractions, we found Ankara one of the less interesting places to visit in Turkey.  Click here to see more photos of the museum and mausoleum

Capadoccia

In the center of the country is a fairy-land of strange and wondrous sandstone formations and underground cities.  We visited in May 2004 with the motor-home and wandered the countryside and in May 2005 by bus when we took hikes through the countryside at Goreme. In the center of the region are the 'fairy chimneys' featured in brochures and crawling with camera-toting tourists during the season.  Near Goreme are underground cities, inhabited for thousands of years.  They have living quarters, ventilation tubes and water supplies - probably a logical considering the temperature extremes of this part of the world.  On one side trip we found Soganli, a small village where local ladies sold handmade dolls.  All of these attractions are very busy in the summer, but when we visited in May the weather was nice and the lines short.  Click here to see more photos!

Konya

Northeast of Antalya is Konya, a large provincial capital with traditional roots.  A Muslim mystic, Mevlana, meditated here in the 13th century.  Following his death his son organized the Whirling Dervishes - a group of Muslims who perform a traditional dance steeped in mysticism and many Dervish lodges were founded throughout Turkey. Ataturk banned the Dervishes, as part of converting the country to a secular state, but the Whirling Dervishes were revived in Konya in the 1950's.  Now over 1 million Turks visit each year.  We visited by bus during December 2004.

Konya - Whirling Dervishes

Shopping for Turkish Kilim Carpets

Artisan repairing kilim carpet in shop in Konya

Mevlana museum and Dervish Shrine - casket of former Imman

Caskets of Immans at Mevlana museum

Ornate hand-scripted Koran

Preliminary part of the Whirling Dervish ceremony

Whirling Dervish and Imman

Whirling Dervish ceremony

Grandson of the Dervish Imman

Palmukkale

Amid the varied landscape of Turkey is Palmukkale, a site of hot springs that have left behind beautiful limestone formations.  The Romans knew about them, and built a city nearby, and they remain a tourist attraction until current times.  We visited by bus with Bekah, Judi's niece, and enjoyed the clear hot springs pool and then the mountain-sized limestone attractions that have been forming for thousands of years.

Amasya

On the spur of the moment while touring Eastern Turkey, we diverted to a town we had not planned to visit, Amasya, and it turned out to be one of the prettiest towns in Turkey!  On the banks of a river, Amasya is neat, easy to get around, and quaint.  Narrow streets house comfortable guest-houses and the town center has tea rooms and restaurants galore.  We walked through most of it, past madrasas where students learned the Koran, along the river where busts of the Ottoman Sultans watch the muddy water go by, and 500' up the hillsides to 3000 year-old Pontic tombs that have been carved into the rock. For more images, check our Amasya Pictures.

Traditional Turkey gradually appears as one follows the mountains to Eastern Turkey, as we did by bus for an in-depth visit.

 

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