TURKEY 2019 PART I.
I have neglected the blog to the amount of travel I did in
2019 that kept me away and now the issue of COVID-19 that has distracted
me. Had great plans with the free time
resulting from the various travel cancellations in 2020 but did nothing; but will
try to recover while the pandemic endures.
This was my second trip to Turkey since 1994 and what I saw on the
return, was a modern country with airports and major roads that put the USA
infrastructure to shame. I returned to visit the ancient cultural sites not
seen before and revisiting others. Turkey is probably the “real” cradle of
September is the best time to visit because the tourist
crowds are gone and the hot summer temperatures milder. Visited about 26
archaeological sites by land, water and air and on foot and took 2605 photos.
And that is one of the challenges with this blog. Instead of writing following the travel
itinerary will do it alphabetically.
ANKARA. Is the capital of Turkey and has grown exponentially with excellent highways with traffic jams as all other of the world’s big cities. Surprisingly the Anadolu Medenniyetleri Museum is exactly the same as I remembered it from my first visit and was not crowded. Two examples of its collection are below.
The streets are busy with vendors sitting waiting for
customers, some with what looks like prayer beads in their hands while, pushing a cart with cantaloupes, one sitting patiently waiting for some tourist to buy his cooper wares and others
just sitting with friends remembering their wild days of youth.
APHRODISIA. This my second visit and consider it my
favorite site…since I was there last the archeological diggings have revealed
new treasure and still going on. What I
remember from 1994 is that it was still inhabited with small houses with
gardening plots among the ruins and goats all over the place; these are gone.
Now there are open spaces between the major ruins. Below is the frieze in the Portico Tiberius
as one first enter the ruins.
The Roman Theater with an estimated capacity of 7,000 and
still remains in good shape. The following image is of a face carved into one
of the seats, perhaps identifying the owner--and it was not the only one seen…I
assume that these were permanent reserved seats.
The Baths were dedicated to Emperor Hadrian (yes, the same
one who built the Hadrian Wall in England) during the 2nd Century
AD. The photo shows the raised floors of
the hot rooms and between the supports the tunnels used to direct the hot
water/steam conducting the heat. Baths were important social and cultural
centers at the time perhaps comparable to a beer joint today. The holes in the
limestone blocks forming the walls supported the extensive marble friezes and
statuary decorating the baths.
Aphrodisias was a Roman city that due to the nearby marble quarries
became home for sculptures that created the numerous sculptures and statues
that survived to the present. This was probably due to its isolated location
saving it from the medieval turmoil and recent wars. Below is a view an area called
the Gaudin’s gymnasium; some of the base of the columns has carved Christian
crosses...could these be considered graffiti?
The stadium has 30 rows of marble seats all around and could
accommodate about 30.000 and it is one of the best preserved and among largest
with a length of approximately 900 feet by 200 feet wide. I could not fit the
whole view because I was lazy and did not bother to carry the big wide-angle
lens along…big mistake.
The Tetrepylon or monumental gateway leads into the main
north-south street leading to the Temple of Aphrodite and is the most completed
restored building in the site completed in 1991. This structure was also
vandalized during the Christian period of Anatolia.
The museum stores most items previously located in the
Sebastion and other assorted artifacts from the area. The Aphrodite of
Aphrodisias is connected to Artemis of Ephesus both wearing a 4 banded tunic
separating motifs with the Three Graces in top who are her closest attendants. Next
are the Moon and the Sun, continuing down herself on a seagoat with tritons, and
last closest to the ground Erotes with children and others performing a sacrifice.
Following is a large carved head at the entrance to the
museum and next an image of Pegasus with a warrior and finally a wounded warrior been helped. Most of the excavations
were conducted by the University of New York and Oxford University.
ARSAMEIA. At the foot of Mount Nemrut was the summer
capital of the Commagene Kingdom around 260 BCE. Below is the God Mithras wearing a Pirghian
cap with sun rays radiating from the head, since he is a sun deity. Next is the
handshake between King Mithridates and the naked Heracles who can easily
recognized by club to the right.
These inscriptions are above the entrance to a dead end tunnel
of unknown purpose about 450 feet long. They describe the history of Arsemia,
religious rituals and names of famous rulers.
Its excellent shape is due to it been underground since antiquity.
ATATURK DAM. The
largest dam in the Euphrates River completed in 1990. It was built to generate electricity as well
as irrigation water for the Harran region. It also created the Ataturk Dam Lake
popular for fishing, water sports and sailing. Ate fish from the lake in a
nearby restaurant; what kind? Who knows
but tasty and not too bony.
BAZDA MAGARALARI. Was a stone quarry active back in the 13th
century used for building around Harran.
The quarry consists of long tunnels and galleries; now some are currently
used for grain storage. It is close
distance to Sanliurfa.
BODRUN. This is not the Coats of Arms of the City but
a street manhole.
Formerly known as Halicarnassus,
a prominent city in ancient Greece where the ruins of one of the Seven Wonders
of the Ancient World was located—the Mausoleum of Mausolus who was a satrap of
the Persian Empire. Currently is a pile of ruins with a small museum.
Almost across the
street is the local amphitheater still in use and while there the was a special
show dedicated to Zeki Muren, a famous Turkish singer, actor and poet nicknamed
“The Sun of Art”. He retired in Bodrum
and died in 1996. The show was done by another current famous singer and the
crowds and the ladies went wild falling all over him. Below crushed VW in the
courtyard of a fancy bookstore.
The Milta Bodrum
Marina is really a long esplanade around the bay separated from the tourist
main walk by a park with multiple monuments and decorations. Allow the locals to relax, sell their trades and
watch the walking sights Anchored at the piers and seaside the Gulets are the dominant
type of sailing boat that cater to the tourists for the day or longer periods
to navigate among the Greek Islands. And
while talking about the sea there is also is a monument honoring the sponge
divers, a dangerous profession faded in history due to the overharvesting. And
since it gets really hot, an Irish Pub is just across the street to kill the
thirst and dance a jig.
The Castle of St.
Peter was built by the Knights Hospitaliers back in the 15th century
and as in most ancient cities; some of the stones from the ruins were used in
the construction. It contains a mosque and an underwater archeological museum.
The internal square provides an escape to relax, sit and dreaming of the old
There is a collection
of old Greek statues at the entrance to the castle. As to whom they are, I
guess that the one with the book is Herodotus who lived in Halicarnassus. He wrote “The Histories” and is considered by
some as the first historian and the father of ethnology and anthropology. Some
of his descriptions of ancient places were later corroborated during archaeological diggings in the 19th and 20th centuries. Another man ahead of his
ancient ruins in Bodrum such as the Myndos Gate one of the few remains of the
city walls and windmills.
SANDIMA. Is an abandoned
Greek village vacated due to a population
exchange resulting fron the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-22. Nuris Sanat Evi a
local artist, lives in the vicinity of the village and extended the courtesy of
visiting his home whose images are below.
A very esoteric and imaginative style reflects the carefree living of
Nuris also raises
goats in the side and these are very docile and beautiful. While there late in
the afternoon, they descended from the ruins near the home to drink water. A few had bells and stopped to intensively
watching this guy with the funny box in the hands.
CEDENRI BRIDGE. Near Mount Nemrut is a roman bridge named after Septimus Severus a Roman Emperor (193-211 CE). It replaced and earlier bridge built by Emperor Vespasian (69-79 CE) who was the conqueror of the Kingdom of Commagene. There were originally 4 columns in the bridge donated by the “Quattuor Civitates Commag” but the one named Geta, a sister of who Emperor Caracalla had her assassinated; and as it was the practice of damnation of memory at the time , the column with Geta’s name was removed. The others have the names of Septimus Severus, Caracalla and his mother Julia Domna whose statues were at one time at the top pf the columns. Severus before he died told his children “Live in harmony, enrich the soldiers, and despise the rest of the people”.
APOLLO TEMPLE. There are many by this name but this one is in Didin and reconstructed around 49 BC after an earthquake, said under the guidance of Alexander the Great. It was a site for Oracles where people traveled long distances to consult the priestesses and make sacrifices.
Below is a fallen column that looks to me like a partly unrolled Lifesaver's candy, these circular stones are huge, probably about the height of a man. Following is a Medusa with its whirling snakes and it it said to be the most photographed.
the most visited ruins in Turkey since they are the best preserved and
archaeologically explored. As you enter,
there is a main street leading down to the Library with numerous buildings in
both sides. It used to be a port city but the sea now is about 3 miles away due
There is an excavation complex that was not there the first time
I was there in 1994 consisting of terrace houses in the side of the hill and still
undergoing preservation. It is mostly covered by a glass enclosure and to reach
the various sections, the steep ladders and stairs require some effort to climb. Extensive walls decorations that showed the
great quality of live enjoyed by the elite of the city that can be seen below.
Below is a detail of the far wall seen in the above image
showing images of women dressed in different outfits. The walls have all kinds
of decorations also including paintings of animals and humans. The last image
is that is a tile floor depicting Neptune with a seahorse and a mermaid.
Continuing the tour of Ephesus, below is a view of from a
hill overlooking the library of Celsius that is obscured by the flowers
followed by an image of the library and the main colonnade leading to the
Another view of the colonnade follows and finally is the
amphitheater, one of the largest of the ancient world with approximate 25,000
The Ephesus Archaeological Museum has a large collection of
statues and the famous Artemis statue resides there but there is a museum by
the same in Vienna where still a larger collection of statues collected between
1896 and 1906. It underwent extensive renovations since when I first visited in
1994 and a worthwhile visit.
EUROMOS. The Temple of Zeus was built during the reign
of Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD).
Originally there were 32 Corinthian columns of which 16 are still
standing and remnants of the rest are scattered around the site. In the center
are the ruins of a sanctuary. It is suspected that the temple was never
completed since the city was abandoned around the second century AD that may
attests for its grade degree of preservation.
I was very impressed as those columns remaining standing after so many
centuries and not carried away.
Will stop here and continue the travel log later this month;
promise to complete it before October.