We have been living in Turkey now for just over three years and walking with Zirve Mountaineering club for quite a bit of that time. On the Sunday that occurs in the same week as Republic Day (October 29th) there is a walk up to Keçi Kalesi (Goat Castle). This is a walk we have always wanted to do but, for one reason or another, we’ve not been around to do it. Sometimes we’ve been visiting the UK and once we needed some work done on the house that could only be done on that Sunday…
The castle sits on a peak above the village of Belevi. You can see it quite clearly on the bus to Izmir. The castle is Byzantine and the parts of it are quite recognisable although it has not been restored. We knew there was a path up (also Byzantine), but we didn’t know where it started. The path is steep in parts – from time to time it’s a bit of a scramble, but it’s really not a difficult walk.
We were lucky and, although it rained in Selçuk we stayed completely dry. Probably because we were above the clouds! The views from the castle are spectacular, even though we did not have the best visibility. The fire was lit with great difficulty and the sucuk was cooked. It’s not a long walk either – about two hours up and little more than an hour coming down. So we were home well before dark.
On Monday Hilary went on the first Craft Club excursion of the new season – a visit to Osman Can’s studio in Çamlık where we were treated to a demonstration of indigo dyeing, a guided tour, tea and cake.
All of the wool used in the carpets is handspun and coloured with natural dyes. The spinning takes place in various studios scattered around the country. The spun wool comes to Çamlık for dyeing and making into carpets. We were shown indigo, madder, wallnut shells and a kind of daisy that produces the yellow colour. My friend in Ireland thinks this might be dyers’ camomile (Anthemis tinctoria), which makes sense. The different colours are made by use of these dyes in combination. They dye the amount of wool needed for each carpet, ensuring that the finished product is perfectly consistent (and also avoiding any waste).
We saw a vat prepared with solar heated water to which Mehmet added cream of tartar then indigo. A huge hank of handspun wool was lowered into this on a winch then pulled out several times so that the strands could be rearranged before it was dipped again to ensure that the dye took evenly. Finally the colour was tested by being dipped into bleach.
Here you can see the result though, really, the internet can’t do justice to these wonderful, deep colours.
After the dyeing we were taken through to where the carpets are woven. The knots are made so fast you can hardly see the weavers’ hands moving. The intricate patterns are displayed on a chart from which they can be accurately knotted. The patterns are taken from historical examples in museums, though there are also some modern designs being created here. After each row is knotted the threads are beaten down and then trimmed with special scissors which can be adjusted for different depths of pile.
The pattern and the wool
Trimming the pile
Then we went through to the display area where many wonderful carpets were on show. By this point both the cameras I had with me had run out of battery so I had to resort to my phone!
Last February we went walking on Gumuş dağ with Zirve Mountaineering club. It poured with rain and there are pictures of us looking like drowned rats, trying to get a fire going. Last Sunday the exercise was repeated, in much better weather. The walk was defined as ‘medium difficulty’ and there was a certain amount of scrambling involved.
We opted to join the picnic group rather than the younger and fitter group (including two children) who were headed for the summit.
We got lost. I think they got lost. We ended up having a very long lunch break in a rather attractive spot. And we didn’t get back to the coach till dark.
It was a brilliant walk, quite challenging, with some great views and good company.
It was a beautiful, sunny Thursday and we decided it was time for a day trip. The bike, after all, needs regular exercise. Various destinations were debated but, in the end, we decided to go to Nyssa.
Nyssa is just outside the modern town of Sultanhisar which is almost half way to Nazili from Aydin. A couple of hours on the bike got us there.
The site is impressive. There were a number of archaeologists at work. Their current project is uncovering the streets that run through the town on a grid plan. They are finding all sorts of monuments decorated in low relief along the way and many of these were visible from the publicly accessible areas. We were the only visitors.
The site is quite extensive – the original Hellenistic buildings were arranged across a ravine, with tunnels giving access between areas. There has been some restoration, but it’s very tasteful – it’s quite clear which bits are original and which are new. We think it’s more of a ‘shoring up to keep the structures safe’ than a ‘the public won’t be interested unless we try to make it look like the shiny original’ type of work.
The theatre is particularly impressive (Hilary has a soft spot for theatres, especially Hellenistic style theatres) and parts of the original stadium seating can be seen. The library is clearly built on the same plan as the famous library at Ephesus but it is much less restored and none the less impressive for that. Though it should be said that it isn’t quite as big. The agora is huge, and very good for wildlife. We saw Agama, ophisops and several rock nuthatches (heard before they were seen) being considerably braver than is usual for them.
On the way home, just after we stopped for petrol, we smelled wet tarmac, then saw wet tarmac then we were treated to a brief but intense rain shower. So now the bike needs cleaning again!
In the summer we bought a new camera, mostly for wildlife photos, since for scenery and other things the pocket digital cameras tend to do just fine. Lifestyle restrictions meant an SLR was not really an option so we ended up with a Canon SX50HS. The zoom is fantastic. All the below were taken with the camera hand held, because again lifestyle makes a tripod not so realistic.
In no particular order. Jackdaws in Selçuk being sociable and amusing. A Carrion Crow. A Rock Nuthatch from our recent trip to Nysa, we normally hear these before seeing them, against rocks they can be hard to spot. Swan and Moorhen from Kew. A London Parrot – otherwise known as a Ring Necked Parakeet or Rose Ringed Parakeet. A Spotted Flycatcher from Aksu. And Grebe, we have seen Grebe in many places, Kovada, Eğirdir, elsewhere, these were on the Thames in Oxfordshire.
Some years ago it used to be illuminated at night. Then this stopped, apparently something to do with a dispute between the Belediye and the electric company. Most holidays it gets decorated with huge banners of Ataturk. Now it is illuminated again. Recently a lot of work was done on restoring the walls and shoring up dangerous structures. Through all of this the castle has been closed to visitors. This has now changed, it is open.
It has actually been open for a month or so, but were were busy. So recently, as we needed to renew our Muze Kart (easiest done at the entry gate to the Basilica which is also the entrance for the castle), we thought it time to visit. We did not actually get new Muze Kart (another story for another time), but since we were there and the things had not quite expired we braved the tourists in the Basilica and went to the Castle.
It is interesting, an old mosque, a church converted to store water. Some other buildings, and imposing walls. Not all of the castle is open and it is not possible to access most of the walls – probably a good thing given how narrow the walkways are. Well worth the visit.
Given we had to walk through the Basilica we took a few shots. Some more restoration is being done, including quite a few new marble blocks. We are not sure what the plan is, it seems to us to be more like reconstruction than restoration. It got us talking, in our younger days we were taught that it should always be possible to distinguish between the old parts and the reconstructed, often by using concrete. The model in Turkey seems to be more to restore or reconstruct to how the monument was. We guess both are equally valid. Anyway taste aside, some basilica photos (before the next stage of restoration) and a shot of Isa Bey Mosque and the Artemis Temple from the Castle gate.
Well, actually, there are four:
This one is from Çandır Canyon
And another veiw
Kovada National Park
And an intimate portrait of a lizard