Ten 'must-visit' cultural routes

Saturday, March 3, 2007
Culture tours are the rising stars of tourism in recent years. In particular, many different culture tours are organized as the number of companies specializing in this branch of the tourism service sector increases

ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

  As an alternative to sea, sun and sand travel, culture tours mostly concentrate on history of the destination. The routes are picked among historical sites and neighborhoods. In addition to full-day trips, excursions are available too. As demands go up, tour operators find new concepts to attract more travelers. Hürriyet daily asked a jury of specialists about the top 10 culture routes to be discovered in Turkey.

  TOP 10

  1. Sultans' mothers and wives foundation tour - ISTANBUL2. The Balyan Family artworks - ISTANBUL3. Bosporus cruise - ISTANBUL4. Hattushash -ÇORUM5. Beypazarı - ANK6. Dülük - GAZİANTEP7. Grand Bazaar's Inns - ISTANBUL8. Kayaköy - FETHİYE9. Diyarbakır - DİYARBAKIR10. Harran - URFA

  The Jury:

  1- Şerif Yenen - Tour Guides Association president

  2- Reyan Tuvi - Travel writer

  3- Faruk Pekin - Father of culture tourism

  4- Attila Tuna - History of Art specialist, tour guide

  5- Remzi Erbaş - Owner of Kent Haber Web site

  6- Hüseyin Poroy - Governor of Çorum

  7- Saffet Emre Tonguç - Guide, travel writer

  8- Mehmet Yaşin - Travel writer

  9- Nurdoğan Şengüler - Tourism operator ( www.istanbulshotels.com )

  10- Ayşenur Arun - Tourism operator


  Sultans' Mothers and Wives Foundation Tour

  Foundation buildings from Scutari to Eyüp

  You could start your tour from the Scutari Atik Valide Sultan Complex built by the wife of Sultan Selim II, Nurbanu Sultan. Then, in order, you could visit the Turkish bath built by Hürrem Sultan in Sultanahmet, Haseki Hürrem Complex in Cerrahpaşa, Hürrem Sultan's daughter Mihrimah Sultan's Mosque and Social Complex in Edirnekapı, Mihrişah Valide Sultan Foundations in Eyüp, Pertevniyal Valide Sultan Mosque and Complex, older parts of Haseki Hospital and Pertevniyal High School. During the tour, you could have your lunch at Kanaat Restaurant in Scutari, or at Katibim in Salaca, or one of the Kaburga Sofrası in Aksaray.

  The Balyan Family Artworks

  To the honor of Dolmabahçe Palace's 150th year

  With this tour, you have a chance to see artwork of The Balyan Family. Due to Dolmabahçe Palace's 150th anniversary, your tour could be more meaningful. From Yıldız Mosque, you could start and pay visits to the Yıldız Hamidiye Mosque, the Church of Virgin Mary in Abbasağa in Beşiktaş, the Palace houses, the Teşvikiye Mosque and the Police Station in Akaretler. It is possible to have snacks at the public fountain in front of Teşvikiye Mosque. Then, you could pass to Dolmabahçe Palace and Mosque. The Tophane Nusretiye Mosque, the Bayezid Tower and the Aksaray Valide Mosque are among the places worth seeing. Via Şehzadebaşı, the Fatih and Hırka-i Şerif mosques could also be visited. In Fatih, you could have your meals at Kömür Restaurant situated on Fevzipaşa Avenue or at İspir Kurufasulyecisi (a restaurant serving only haricot bean) in Tophane.

  Bosporus cruise

  From Beşiktaş to Tarabya

  Your cruise starts from the Beşiktaş Naval Museum. “Saltanat Kayıkları (Boats)” is a must-see. After visiting the Hagia Dimitri Greek Holy Spring in Kuruçeşme and the old Ottoman streets in Arnavutköy, you deserve a lunch break at Balıkçı Adembaba or at Köfteci Ali Baba. Later on, Bebek Park and the district are waiting for you. Stop at Roma Dondurmacısı (Ice Cream Shop) and please do try a cone of ice cream here. Then, the Japanese Garden in Baltalimanı, the Emirgan Heights and Boyacıköy are places that should be seen. In the area, you could visit houses, churches and streets of late Ottoman minorities. Take a break at Emirgan-Çınaraltı. Later, see the Pembe (Pink) Kiosk and the Sarı (Yellow) Chalet in Emirgan Woods, the Sait Halim Paşa Mansion, the Erbilgin Mansion, the Austria Embassy Palace and the Huber Kiosk in Yeniköy and then return to Tarabya.


  World cultural heritage

  Named by UNESCO on the World Heritage list in 1986, Hattushash, the capital of the Hittite Empire, is situated at Boğazkale in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum. Six kilometers of city walls encircle this ancient city that has sanctuaries, private buildings and holy sites. The Yazılıkaya open air temple is located 2 kilometers outside Hattushah. You can reach the temple by walking. The Hittite kings walked the same route between the palace and the temple when they were conducting religious rites. In the sanctuary, the reliefs of god (Teshub) and goddess (Hepat) are worth seeing. After the King's palace, you could pay a visit to the Budaközü River valley.


  Famous for its historical mansions

  For this tour, your start point would be Geyve. The Sakarya Bridge in the town of Ali Fuat Paşa is a must-see site. What makes this bridge special is that the structure has a niche for praying. It is known that the Ottoman Sultans Yavuz Sultan Selim and Yıldırım Bayazıt used this bridge during their eastern campaigns. The most famous Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi used this bridge to follow the route of Geyve-Taraklı-Göynük-Mudurnu-Nallıhan-Beypazarı, according to his Seyahatname (Book of Travels). If you go through his route, you first reach Taraklı, Göynük, Mudurnu and Nallıhan, then to Beypazarı. First stop is the Hıdırlık Height if you want to see a view of the surrounding. The second stop could be Alattin Street where restoration work has just completed. It is famous for historical mansions. You could also go for shopping to check handicrafts by women of Beypazarı.


  600,000-year-old settlement

  In the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, crushed olives, katmer (baked pastry sheet folded with vegetables, ground beef or cheese), fresh village sour cream, home-made bread, cheese and jams are served in a special breakfast. After a city tour, you could visit Dülük Village, 10 kilometers north of Gaziantep. In the village, the Dülük Ancient City site has 600,000-year-old ruins. On the walls of the Şarklı Cavern, the first-ever number system was used in the history of mankind. After its invasion in 1,525 B.C. by the Hittite King Hattushili I, Dülük became a military base. It is also believed that Dülük, for a while, was the capital of the Gummuhi Kingdom, one of the late Hittite kingdoms abrogated by the Assyrians. Later on, Assyrians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Selevkoses, Romans, Armenians, the Crusaders and Muslim Turks reigned in Dülük.

  Inns of Grand Bazaar

  Labyrinth-like streets

  You could get into the Grand Bazaar from the small gate located in the Bakırcılar (Coppersmiths) Bazaar side. Through labyrinth-like streets you enter Zincirli Inn. Then, take Tacirler Street and later discover Gümüşçüler (Silversmiths) Bazaar. Leave the Grand Bazaar by using Mahmutpaşa Gate. Take a look at import goods from China and the East at the Orient Inn, and then pass to Abud Efendi, Büyük Yeni Han (Grand New Inn) and Rüstem Paşa in Tahtakale. You have a chance to taste the Ottoman cuisine in Arslan Restaurant located at Çemberlitaş Square, or in Bahar Restaurant at inner garden or in the historical Subaşı Restaurant at Nuruosmaniye Gate. You could save the best for traditional Turkish tea, coffee and nargile, the Turkish tobacco water pipe, which is also known as hubble-bubble, at Çorlulu Alipaşa Madrasah in Divanyolu.


  Phantom village in Fethiye

  In southern Turkish town of Fethiye at Mediterranean coast, Karaköy looks like a phantom village. During the population exchange in 1924 between Turks and Greeks, the village completely emptied. When the Greeks returned to Greece, Turks as the new comers of this village did not prefer to settle here. Therefore, you might face surprises in desolate streets and suddenly run across a church or a school. Houses here do not obstruct each other's view and sunlight. Unfortunately, only the outer walls of the houses remain today. Hundreds of houses have ruins of blue walls, cisterns, mosaics. When you climbed to the chapel, the Mediterranean in all its grandeur will be waiting for you.


  Islam's Fifth holiest sanctuary

  The first mosque built in Anatolia and the Fifth holiest temple of the Islamic World (Harem-i Şerif) Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) will welcome you in downtown Diyarbakır. For the last 400 years, the structure was used as a mosque, but was known as the Mar Toma Cathedral, which belonged to Assyrian period until the city was conquered by Islamic armies. At the backside of the mosque, the Zinciriye Madrasah dating back to the 12th century is used as shelter for the poor. Do not forget to stop by Hasan Paşa Inn. You will see famous Dört Ayaklı Minare (Four Feet Minaret) after you go through the old Yoghurt Bazaar. The Chaldean Church is one of the two Christian sanctuaries that are still in use today.



  Center of culture in ancient times

  Situated 45 kilometer southeast of the southeastern Turkish province of Urfa, Harran is the most significant center of the old Mesopotamian idolatry in which the Moon, the Sun and planets are accepted as celestial. Town houses having conic domes are worth a visit. Since the Ancient Age, Harran has been a center of philosophy, religion, astronomy, mathematics and medicine. So, the Harran University stands as the most important ruins of this southeastern town. The Halep (Aleppo) Gate still stands as the only gate of the ramparts. You will see the Çoban Caves 15 kilometers northeast of Harran. The caves presumably belong to the Roman era and they were once the rock tombs. 10 kilometers ahead, a Seljuk hostel (caravansary), built on the Harran-Baghdad route, will be waiting for you.


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