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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poor turtle


Turtle in distress; appeared barely alive


One day a large turtle floated up next to a boat moored nearby.  It appeared to be barely moving.  Instantly a rescue mission was on!

Emre from the hotel bar rushed out with a boat hook and began to try to help the turtle. 






Entangled in lots of fishing line



There was fishing line wrapped round and round the poor thing!  Bill grabbed one of boat hooks and went to assist Emre.  Mustafa, the full-time captain living on the boat docked next to us, came rushing out with a good serrated knife to cut away the line.

All this time it appeared that the turtle continued to move his flippers.  



The culprit for killing the turtle -- a woman's bra!


Finally the main culprit of the turtle's distress was discovered.  A bra! 


The 'armholes' of a woman's bra were over the turtle's front flipper and rear flipper on its left side.  It appeared to have become entangled in the bra before it was encircled with all that fishing line.  






By now a couple in a passing dinghy had come over to try to help.  As soon as the bra was removed it became apparent that the turtle was already dead.  How sad that this turtle could live to this ripe old age and be killed by a discarded woman's bra.

Please all sailors, think before you throw things into the sea!


M
On a brighter note, here is a photo of an unusual mega yacht moored at Ece Saray Marina next door.  I think the bow of this yacht resembles an upside down submarine.  I think it is truly ugly.  It is a miniature version of the super-mega-yacht named  'A'.  

'A' cost 300 million dollars and is something like 390 feet in length.  This smaller version looks almost identical to 'A' and it is named 'M'.  'M' was built in Turkey and is for sale now for the mere price of 8 million dollars.  It is the poor man's version of 'A'.  And just as ugly.



Monday, November 18, 2013

The SXY Day Tour


Taş explaining history
  A week or so after returning from the far southeastern tour we participated in another small group day tour.  They departed from Marmaris and were coming through Fethiye to reach the destinations on this day tour, making it easy for us to be picked up in Fethiye.  

There was a tiny bit of a snafu that turned out just fine.  We were sitting outside the hotel waiting for the tour bus to arrive.  We got there early and had been waiting for about 20 minutes when a friend pedaled by on her bike.  We got up to chat with her and during the conversation mentioned that we were waiting on a group from Marmaris.  At that point a man sitting nearby approached us and said "Marmaris?" and showed us a note with our names written on it.  Turned out he was a driver for the local Fethiye office of the tour company and had been sent to collect us.  We said goodbye to our friend and got into the car.  He drove us through the city and stopped on the corner of an intersection with the main highway.  Less than 3 minutes later the little tour bus from Marmaris stopped on the shoulder of the highway and we transferred into the bus.  How about that for efficiency!  They did not have to drive all the way through town to our hotel and then all the way back to the main highway.  Nice for the group and nice for us.  Taş was once again our guide.


Bright flowers everywhere at Xanthos
This was the SXY Day Tour -- Sidyma, Xanthos and Yediburunlar; a tour into Lycian Turkey and part of the Lycian Way.  We are amused by the different pronunciations of the word Lycian.  We, as do most of the Americans we have heard say it, pronounce Lycian as Lie-CEE-an.  British people tend to pronounce it LISH-ee-an.  And the Turks pronounce it LICK-ee-an.  But that is understandable because the Turks also spell it Lykian rather than Lycian.  We were glad to hear Taş also pronounce it Lie-CEE-an several times this day.



The Lycian Way is a long-distance footpath in Turkey around part of the coast of ancient Lycia.  It is approximately 306 miles long and stretches from Ölüdeniz near Fethiye to Hisarcandir, about 12 miles from the large city of Antalya. The Lycian way covers mountainous terrain so one must be very fit to make this hike or walk.  The route is mainly over footpaths and donkey trails; mostly limestone and often hard and stony underfoot.  The trail is waymarked with red and white stripes.  The Sunday Times has listed it as one of the world's top ten walks.  Alien to most Americans, these long walks are very popular with walking groups in Europe, primarily walking groups located in England, Germany and Austria.  These people book group walking tours in special parts of the world.  We saw several of these walking groups in Cyprus.  They can easily walk as 30 miles in one day, which would make the Lycian Way a 10-day tour plus 2 travel days to and from.   I enjoy walking -- flat terrain only.  These folks are way out of my league.  I do not understand what motivates them to walk stoney mountains.  Although the scenery is gorgeous.  Fantastic views from up there.


Taş explaining history
Our first destination was Xanthos as it was the farthest and then we could backtrack towards to Fethiye.  Bill and I had previously visited Xanthos in May 2012 with Chay, Katie and Jaimie of S/V Esprit.  We did not have a guide on that visit.  Since I have previously written about this ancient site, I do not have much to add today.  Sad to admit, but I did not even write any notes of what Taş told us.  One thing he told us that did stick in memory is that at one time this site was called Terminasos or something like that.  Similar to the word terminators.  At one time there were only 180 men in this city and they were attacked by over 100,000 Persian invaders in 545 B.C.  They fought rather than surrender.  When there was no hope (as if there ever was!), then they put the women and children inside a building and set fire to it.  Then fought to the last man died.  They valued their freedom that highly.  Better that they all die than to be conquered. The only survivors were 80 inhabitants of the city who were not there at the time it was attacked.


Lycian tomb mounted high
Lycian tomb near the Lycian theater.
Note the hole where grave robbers entered.
The entire city burned to the ground around 450 B.C.  Then later, Brutus (of Roman fame) conquered Xanthos in 42 B.C.  Again the residents fought almost to the death and finally Brutus was able to capture only 150 men and a handful of women.

The Inscribed Pillar


The Inscribed Pillar is one of the most important artifacts remaining at Xanthos.  Most of the valuable ancient artifacts were taken by the British and now reside in a museum in London.  Turkey would very much like to have their items returned but England is not likely to ever do so.  This Inscribed Pillar was carved in 425 B.C. and commemorates the memory of wars fought by a Lycian prince named Kherei.  The inscriptions on each if the 4 sides are in a different language.  The inscriptions in Lycian are the oldest known to date.  This is a massive piece of stone and would have required a great deal of work to get it up here.  There was a statue of the prince on top, now missing; this made the entire monument 11 meters high -- that is almost 36-feet tall.  Impressive work for that time period.

Here is a link to my posting about Xanthos in May 2012:  Xanthos blog 05/2012

Goats at home in the Lycian theater in Xanthos.
The Roman theater is farther up the hill.
Neither Bill nor I felt like trekking around the hill and up to the Roman theater.  We did that last year and once was enough.  While the rest of the group followed Taş and learned history, Bill and I sat in the shade and enjoyed an ice-cold bottle of water on this rather unusually warm day, until the bus driver received a call from Taş requesting that he pick up the group down the road a bit on the other side of that hill.  Done; and then we were off for a drive up into the mountains to a restaurant called The Lighthouse at Yediburunlar.  


View from mountaintop restaurant




The views were spectacular!  The food was scrumptious!  Everyone was very pleased with this meal!  

And I think very few realized they were eating an entirely vegetarian meal.  Each dish was delicious and no one missed having meat.  The 3 hot dishes were my favorites.


A great vegetarian lunch
Made us want to anchor our boat down there





This very much out-of-the-way restaurant also serves as a small hotel. Considering this rural mountainous location, about the only patrons of the hotel or restaurant are members of those walking groups hiking the Lycian Way.  As we sat in the dining room we could see a few waypoint markers painted on the rocks .  










This restaurant/hotel is owned by a wealthy woman from Istanbul.  She enjoys cooking and operates this facility only during the shoulder season months, not in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter.  I could never find this place again should we rent a car one day, but the food would be worth another trip.


video


The circular thing with the stone 'wheel' on its
side is for crushing olives for olive oil.



Soon we wound our way back down that mountain on onto another one.  Destination this time was an ancient town called Sidyma, at an elevation of 1,788 feet.  This was another very out-of-the-way place.  


The bus parked and we walked to a space shaded by grape vines where an old woman resident had set up a table and chairs to serve us tea.  She also had a small table of various items for sale, although there was no pressure whatsoever on us to buy anything.  





Old woman at Sidyma

Taş hurried us out to see the ruins of Sidyma, saying we would have tea when we returned.  He wanted us to see the ruins before the rapidly approaching darkness made that impossible.  There were no lights out there!  The 'walkway' was not set stones; it was like walking in a shallow ditch covered with large loose rocks both in the ditch and lining the banks.

Info on Sidyma

More info and photos of Sidyma




Making tea on her patio


Sidyma has never been properly excavated.  And certainly no restoration had been done.  It is the most remote of the Lycian ancient cities, situated halfway up Mount Kragos (now called Avlankara Tepesi).  Sidyma is not actually in the Xanthos valley at all.  It is well above that valley.  Sidyma was only 'rediscovered' by Europeans during the mid-nineteenth century. 





That rectangular stone is a doorway.  Nothing
around it.  Just an ancient doorway out in a field.
An old mosque now occupies the site of the baths, and reused pillars taken from the stoa of the agora (shopping area).  The principal charm of Sidyma is how ancient masonry has been incorporated into the rough stone homes of the village's current inhabitants.  Ancient cut and carved stones have been incorporated into house corners; or used as livestock troughs; or in any number of ingenious ways of utilizing what was available lying nearby when constructing a home or shed or whatever in today's village.  

There is a castle which is in total ruins that sits on a hill to the north.  It had been garrisoned during Byzantine times.  The necropolis is scattered in the fields to the east and comprises a variety of types of tombs.  In the center of a farming field stands one remarkable tomb with ceiling panels carved with rosettes and human faces; another nearby has a relief of Eros on its lid and Medusas at the ends.  There also is a two-storeyed tomb.  In the middle of the necropolis stands an enormous and fairly intact square structure that is believed to be a Roman imperial heroon or temple-tomb which has a walled-up doorway on its north side.

All of the above information is taken from the Rough Guides webpage about Sidyma -- because I missed seeing all of it.  

While hurrying along that walkway ditch filled with large loose rocks I fell and injured my leg.  That was the end of the line for me on this tour.  One of the smaller rocks shifted beneath my foot and I took quite the tumble down onto those sharp-edged rocks.  Luckily I had a very large handbag strung over my shoulder and head, hanging across my body and on my left hip.  That protected my hip during this fall.  I shudder to think of how bad it would have been to break a hip way out there.

Within seconds of falling there was a swelling on my left shin the size of Bill's fist.  There was no real pain; the leg was numb from the knee downward with a few small abrasions on the lower leg.  Good thing I was wearing sturdy new jeans as that further protected the leg.  The only painful thing was the tip end of the radius, the forearm bone that terminates at the wrist.  A large bruise developed there and the area of the tip of the radius remained painful for 10 days. But the wrist worked and felt okay so there was no point in seeking medical care for that. There also was a quarter-sized hole in my palm where the skin had been swiftly scraped away.  No big deal; skin grows back.  No broken bones so all should be fine.


My very swollen leg.  That wrinkled part on the
left is my knee so that  provides some scale
as to how swollen this was.


We told the others to go on and see the site before it got dark; I was fine.  Bill helped me walk back to the old lady's home where I sat and elevated the injured leg.  The woman did not speak a word of English but she motioned and made me to understand that she wanted to rub some kind of oil onto the swollen part of my leg.  She showed me some leaves and some tiny black fruits from the trees on which those leaves grew and motioned that she made this oil from those black things that looked sort of like elongated olives.  She kept saying the word 'bay' but those leaves and black fruit did not come from what we Americans know as bay.  The only bay I know is bay laurel.  These leaves were shaped like small sycamore leaves.  I figured what the heck did I have to lose except possibly a skin allergy, so I nodded okay.

She rubbed the swelling and down the leg with that oil.  Five minutes later she rubbed it down again; five minutes after that she rubbed it with plain olive oil.  In just that span of ten minutes the swelling was almost completely gone!  This reminded me of when we were on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu and Bill was very severely bruised by a falling tree trunk.  The local people rubbed his arm and shoulder with an ointment made from papaya and his bruising disappeared within hours.  This oil was just as amazing!   My leg remained numb but the swelling was almost gone. 


Patio where we sat enjoying tea beneath the grapes.

The woman's mother came out and motioned to me that once she had broken both of her wrists.  She was picking olives and fell, landing on her knees and hands and breaking both wrists.  Each of her wrists had noticeable bone growth as a result.  A reminder of how tough rural life in these mountains can be.  There is no medical care within 3 hours drive from this tiny old village.  Injuries must be dealt with however one can manage with only the help of family and friends as doctors and hospitals are nowhere nearby.



The others in our group returned.  Tea was served, along with some type of savory pastry.  Purchases were made and we were soon back on the bus headed home. 

We bought a small bottle of the miracle oil from the old woman; figured that was the least we could do.  She is a widow and is only 55 years old, although she looks 70.   Fortunately for her, the government of Turkey does allow for widowed spouses.  She receives 80% of her late husband's pension (like American Social Security).  Without that pension she would be totally at the mercy of her extended family, if she has any.  There are no employment opportunities. Life is hard out there.  

The bus delivered us to Fethiye where another car met us on the main highway.  Great tour day up until the time I got clumsy.  



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day #7 of Land Tour: Şanliurfa


Tony, Mark & Gwen outside a
mosque beside very old cemetery
We arrived well after dark the previous evening to our very nice hotel in Şanliurfa.  We had stopped in Şanliurfa previously during this trip; our return flight to Izmir would depart from the local airport last this afternoon.  

As I noted in a previous blog about our short overnight stay here, this city is ancient. 

It has been known as Ur, Urwa and Urfa, as well as Odessa or Adessa or Edessa.  I believe it was called Edessa when the French Crusaders were here very long ago; but for Biblical references I think the more recognized name is Ur.  The Turkish have given this city the preface of Şanli in honor of the battles that happened here with the French; a recognition of the religious significance of those battles.  The squiggly beneath the 'S' means it is an 'sh' sound.  Therefore, the correct pronunciation of this city today is SHAHN-lee-UR-fah.  The Black Sheep Tribe was sent here to fight the Crusaders;  that tribe were descendants of the great Saladin.

Şanliurfa is known as the Prophets' City, where prophets Job and Abraham left their marks.


Judy, outside a mosque again
One of the sites I read described it thus:  "Here one begins to feel you have reached the Middle East, courtesy of its close proximity to Syria.  Women cloaked in black chadors elbow their way through the bazaar streets.  Mustachioed gents wearing salvar (shalvar) -- traditional baggy Arabic pants swill tea and clickk-clack backgammon pieces in shady courtyards.  Pilgrims feed sacred carp in the shadows of a medieval fortress.  First sight of the Dergah complex of mosques and the hole Golbasi (gool-bash-i) area is a magical moment, especially with the calls to prayer.  The Hittites imposed their rule over this area around 1370 B.C.  Then the Assyrians ruled until Alexander the Great rolled in.  He renamed the city Edessa and it was the capital of the Seleucid province until 132 B.C. when the local Aramaean population set up an independent kingdom and renamed the town Orhai.  Independence was short-lived when the Romans rolled in and conquered the entire region, completely encircling the entire Mediterranean.  Orhai was one of the first areas to adopt Christianity, circa 200 A.D., well before it became the official religion of the conquering Romans."


Taş is on stairs trying to take photos of our
whole tour group while people try to figure
out what he is doing.
The city is still called Urfa in common daily language.  It is a large city though not a huge metropolis, and is known for its relative conservatism.  Most restaurants do not serve alcohol; no beer or wine was a big deal for a few members of our tour group.  Many coffee houses and restaurants have separate sections for families or groups of single men.  This is called the 'salon of families' and is often on the second story above the main seating area of a restaurant.  We did not see any such coffee houses or restaurants during either of the short times we were in Urfa.  We had seen such separations in dining when we were in Cochin, India -- females not allowed where the men dined.

A local tradition usually associated with Urfa and Mardin, where we had visited a few days earlier, is the "Sıra Gecesi."  This is where groups of young men gather at each others' homes following a pre-established sequence, especially during winter evenings, to play Ottoman musical instruments and sing regional classics and to eat together.  Another all-male past time.


The rest of the information in this posting comes from what we were told by our guide Taş.
The great prophet Abraham was born in Urfa in 1976 B.C.  The place where he was born is known today as Abraham's Cave.  Many thousands of Muslims visit Abraham's Cave each year. (Taş thinks this is incorrect.  He believes that Abraham was really born nearby in what is now known as northern Iraq, but all sources credit Abraham's birth as being at Urfa.)  Abraham is considered a prophet by all Christians, Muslims and Jews. 


(For those who might not remember, according to the Book of Genesis and the Books of Chronicles, Nimrod was the son of Cush and the great-grandson of Noah.  He became the King of Shinar, even though he had no right to that title.  He gained the title because he was a very powerful man.)
Men rowing boat on Zeliha Lake
Zeliha, or Aynzeliha as the Turk's say, was the daughter of King Nimrod.  Zeliha turned against her father and accepted the miracle of Abraham's new religion of only one God.  This angered King Nimrod and he threw both Abraham and Zeliha off the high cliffs (where the ancient castle ruins are located today).  Miraculously, two lakes were formed in the spots where Zeliha and Abraham landed.  King Nimrod 'proudly watched on' as his daughter Zeliha died.  But Abraham did not die from this fall.  (By the way, the sign at the lake used that verbiage: Nimrod proudly watched on as his daughter died.)
Sign at Zeliha Lake
Abraham Lake
Sacred area set aside at
Abraham Lake; like a mosque


So, King Nimrod threw Abraham into a fire.  Abraham still did not die and lived on.  Where Abraham fell the fire turned into water and the coal turned into fish. 







Descendants of those fish (carp) live on today in what many people consider a sacred lake or pool.   It is believed that if one feeds the fish then one goes to Heaven.  (This created the job of selling fish food at small tables situated all around the pool today.)
Sign at Abraham Lake
Abraham's son was named Issac of Ismail.  The name Issac offends Islamics; they prefer the name Ismail.  (I have no idea why.)  Abraham and Issac and Abraham's nephew Lot left Urfa and lived in Haran for one year.  Abraham died many, many years later in Canaan (Lebanon?).

That concludes all I wrote down of what Taş told us about Urfa.  Frankly, I had very much lost interest by this time because I cannot take this stuff too seriously.  I mean, really, how can I believe that men lived to be 900 years old back then.  And that lakes miraculously appeared where people landed when thrown off a mountain.  Anyone can believe whatever they like.  I remain incredulous.
Sign at Abraham's Cave
Entrance to Abraham's Cave
Women at entrance
Everyone in our tour group went in to see Abraham's Cave except for me.  That 'remove shoes' thing again.  Bill went inside and snapped a photo with his iPhone without flash. He said that no one else in there took any photos; the visitors were taking this as a profound religious experience so he did not think a photo flash would be appropriate.  He also said the body odor in that confined space reeked.  Thanks to him for experiencing that without me.
Inside Abraham's Cave.
Mosque in front of Abraham's Cave
Several of us asked Taş about how the local women dress.  Some women wore very colorful clothing; others wore all black but almost always with a colorful headscarf.  He had no idea so he stopped 2 women walking nearby and asked them.  One was colorfully dressed and one was in all black but with colorful headscarf.  They told him that it is simply personal choice.  Any woman can dress however she chooses, but the ones in all black were usually women who had done haj.  Once someone has done haj (trip to Mecca that all Muslims are supposed to do at least once during their lifetime if they possibly can), then that person has accomplished the most important thing in their life and some women feel that they should now dress more somberly or peacefully, thus all black, and not frivolously in bright colors.

Outside one mosque was this sign.
It is telling people to not waste bread.
It states how many million lira are
wasted each year on bread that is
thrown out.  Note that the daily loaf
bread has no preservatives.  It is
stale by the end of the day and
people throw it out rather than
toasting it or cooking with it.




Our group separated so each could have free time for a couple of hours before meeting again to drive somewhere for lunch.  We ended up sitting at an outdoor cafe table with Tom and Fran of S/V Hamamas beside the lake formed where Zeliha fell to her death.  I think we were all tired of walking and standing and welcomed some quiet time and a beverage.  We had all absorbed as much history as possible in a week and did not want any more at this point.





Each Turkish meal seems to start with this plate of
green things, onions and lemons.  I have yet to figure
out what we are supposed to do with this stuff; we
never eat it.  The white liquid is yogurt with cooked
bulgur; we don't eat that either.  The red stuff is spicy
liquid with cooked onions.  It is good.


We strolled back through the huge park area and again met up with the group.  Taş suggested we try a restaurant that was highly recommended by the chef at the hotel where we had stayed the previous night.  Sounded good to all of us.  The driver managed to drive straight there even though this was an unplanned destination.  Lunch was very good.  The menu had each item listed in Turkish and with an English translation.  


Note some of these items.
Spleen? Heart? Slut?


One item on the menu caught Bill's and my attention = Slut.  I asked Taş  what in the world 'slut' was and that cracked him up.  He thought that translation was hilarious.  Somehow, I think the translation was incorrect but did not learn what the real English word should have been.  Turned out that I had tried what they were called 'slut' at the hotel the night before.  It was a ground walnut and ground chickpea paste that is highly spiced; spread it on small sections of flatbread.  I liked it very much.  But then I do like spicy food!



Frothy version of ayran.  No, thank you!

We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare.  Flight back to Izmir was uneventful except once we came much too close for comfort to a mid-air collision with another passenger airliner on an opposing course at exactly the same altitude.  Bill and I saw it and felt our plane bank hard right as the other plane banked hard in the opposite direction.  But no one else on our plane appeared to notice it.   Then there was a 4 hour drive back to Marmaris.  We had planned to stay with Gwen aboard K.W. but we were so tired and knew that she must be tired too.  So we switched plans and called a hotel during the long bus ride and got a hotel room for the night.  Let Gwen have her privacy and much deserved rest.  The next day we took the dolmus to the otogar and then the bus back to Fethiye.  

This was a fun and extremely interesting trip but we were glad to be back home on Bebe!

Added 17 November 2013:  Learned today from one of our tour group members that on the day we were in Şanliurfa a mortar round landed in the city, shot by one of the many rebel factions in Syria.  One Turkish citizen was killed by that mortar attack.  This was reported in The Washington Post.  

Washington Post new article link

That is how close we were to the Syrian border during this trip.  Well within mortar range.  Glad we got to see all the ancient places in peace.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Day #6 of Land Tour, Part 2: Hasankeyf

 After leaving Mor Gabriel there was an hour or two dive to Hasankeyf.  At the time I thought I had never heard of Hasankeyf; later I reviewed my pre-trip notes and found an entire printed page about this place.  Short term memory loss setting in?  Or was my head slightly spinning after all the ancient places we had visited in just a week!

Hasankeyf is an ancient town and district located along the Tigris River in the Batman Province in southeastern Turkey.  Hasankeyf has been identified with the Ilanşura of the Mari Tablet, circa 1800 B.C.  I had never heard of the Mari Tablets; if anyone is interested they can do their own research on that topic.  What little I read was interesting but I am not explaining the Mari Tablets here.  Suffice it to say that Hasankeyf had been identified to be associated with those fascinating ancient tablets.  

Hasankeyf is another open air museum like the Yasemek Open Air Museum we had visited on one of the first days of this group tour.  Hasankeyf is located at the end of an impressive gorge formed by the Tigris River. (How cool is this!  On this trip we crossed both the Euphrates River and the Tigris River.)  The cave dwellings and ruins of Hasankeyf tell of a long history although it is not known when and by whom Hasankeyf was first established.
Photo from brochure we purchased.  Looking down from the Citadel where visitors are no longer allowed.
Ruins of the old bridge; new bridge to the right.  Tigris River is at much higher water level in this photo
than on the day we visited.
One of the dominating features of Hasankeyf is the Old Tigris Bridge which was built in 1116 by the Artuqid Sultan Fahrettin Karaaslan.  It replaced an even older bridge.  This bridge built in 1116 over the Tigris River is considered to be the largest from the Medieval period.  In 1260 the Mongols invaded the city.  

Our guide said that the Mongols had destroyed this old bridge; however, I did not find any references to this in my research about Hasankeyf.  According to Wikipedia (as if we are to consider that site authoritative and all information cited there as accurate!), this bridge was built with support from wood in case the bridge had to be removed in order to prevent an attack.  Because the support was wood and wood rots over time, nothing remains today except 2 piles of stones and some foundation work.  I do not know which story is true, but I kind of like the one about the Mongols destroying the bridge during their invasion here.


Photo from the brochure we purchased.  This aerial view of the old Citadel is now off-limits to visitors.
Much, much earlier the Romans had built the citadel of Cephe as their stronghold on the frontier separating the Roman Empire from the Persian Sassanid Empire.  Cephe is in a strategic place on the steep rocks overlooking the Tigris river.  Much later, under the name of Kiphas (which means 'steep rock'), the Byzantines also made it their stronghold in the southeast of Anatolia.  In the 5th century A.D., this place became the seat of a Bishopric (Christian; had a Bishop).  This area was coveted by the Arabs and in the 7th century the city fell to the Omeyyads who changed its name to Hisn Kayfa.  Later, the city fell to the Abbasids.  The Abbasid Empire was the tenth of the ten great Muslim caliphates of the Arab Empire. 

The Ayyubids (descendants of Saladin) captured the city in 1232 and built mosques that made Hasankeyf an important Islamic center.  Saladin was Kurdish.  The Kurdish Ayyubids were known as the Black Sheep Tribe and were sent to fight the Crusaders.  The Ayyubids were a Kurdish dynasty that ruled Egypt, Syria-Palestine, parts of northern Mesopotamia and Yemen between 1169 and 1260.   
The city suffered badly from the invasion of the Mongols, but it rose from its ashes to become the place where summer residences of emirs were built.  The city was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1515 and gradually lost its past glory.

The Citadel on the top of the high cliff overlooking the river.  Up until fairly recently visitors were allowed access to the Citadel and the surrounding structures up there.  This is no longer allowed.  The government states the reason for barring visitors up there is because of the possibility of a landslide.  One of our tour group members was a geologist and he phoo-phooed that idea entirely.  He named the type of rock composition of that cliff and said there were no faults and there was no way anyone needed to fear a landslide of that area.  The truth is that the government discourages visitors to Hasankeyf, period.  Not just up at the Citadel, but they would prefer that visitors not come here at all.  The government would like people to forget about Hasankeyf and not have any media attention drawn to it at this time.  

The reason is not surprising.  
Our poor quality iPhone photo, taken from the new bridge.
Hasankeyf was declared a conservation area since 1981.  As part of the GAP project, this area will be flooded by the Ihsu dam being constructed.  The lower level and middle level of the inhabited area of Hasankeyf is being relocated to a higher level nearby.  We could see the newly constructed buildings in the distance.  The historical site that was declared a conservation area in 1981 will soon be underwater.  No wonder the powers that be would prefer no media attention here.

Additional information about Hasankeyf can be found at this link:  Hasankeyf info


The old hamam (spa)
The first place our group stopped to see was a large hamam built a very long time ago.  I did not note the estimated year of original construction.  It was flooded by the Tigris and then rebuilt and enlarged during the Ottoman Empire period.  Taş spoke to the group at length about this hamam (ancient spa) but I did not hang around to listen.  My camera batteries had died when we were at Mor Gabriel.  A man was nearby selling books and I wanted to buy one to save the memories of visiting here since we would not have any photos except the very poor ones taken with Bill's iPhone.  Bought the book entitled 'A City on the Verge of Vanishing: Hasankeyf'.  It is really more of a tourist brochure than an actual book.


Me with the tourist brochure in lieu of real photos.
Note the zigzag in the cliff behind me on the other side of the Tigris River.
There are steps carved into the stone for access to the Citadel up on top.
That would be a scary walk up or down but visitors are not allowed there anymore.

Bill scanned a few of the photos in this brochure and cropped out the text.  I am posting some of those on this blog posting.  I assume this is okay because there is nothing in the brochure about copyrighted photos.


Zeynel Bey Mausoleum
Next our group strolled over to view the Zeynel Bey Mausoleum, obviously named after Zeynel Bey.  This mausoleum, like the hamam, are built on the opposite side of the Tigris River from the inhabited city.  Zeynel Bey was the son of Uzun Hassan, the ruler of the Akkoyunlu Dynasty which ruled of Hasankeyf during the 15th century.  He died in battle in 1473 and was buried inside this circular brick mausoleum.  Originally this mausoleum had patterns of glazed navy blue and turquoise tiles; however, it was restored and the restoration was of terribly low quality.  Those glazed colored tiles were merely painted over.  The structure was likely better had it not been 'restored' at all.
During 'restoration' many tiles
were simply painted over.






The second known university in the world was located here, according to our guide Taş.  He provided us with the information that is provided to him by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for Turkey.  This is another of those items of information that I did not read anywhere, just heard it from the guide.  Believe it or not, as you choose.




We then went back across the river to the city.  We walked through their main street lined with vendors and tiny shops.  Several of us purchased souvenirs; my purchase will be a gift for my granddaughter.  Most of the group then walked up to visit one of the many ancient mosques; Bill and I opted to go to the restaurant where we would soon be enjoying lunch.  We already have seen enough mosques to last our lifetimes.

The restaurant was set high above the Tigris River.  Their speciality was fish from the river.  Bill chose grilled chicken; I chose the carp.  How could I eat regular old chicken which can be eaten anywhere anytime.  I ate the carp from the Tigris River.....grilled......and it tasted better than I expected.  Freshwater fish tend to be muddy tasting.  And I understand carp usually has a very strong fishy taste.  This did not.  It was simply cooked, mild and did not taste muddy.  I was happy with my choice.  Also figured that if I didn't like it then salad and bread would have been enough for lunch anyway.

The view from our table was fantastic.  The old bridge was right in front of us.  On top of the farthest foundation pier was a home!  Someone had made themselves a home up there.  We asked Taş about it and he asked the owner of the restaurant what that was all about.  There had to be a story there.  There was.
Note the white square on top of the bridge foundation pier on the far right near the trees.
That is someone's home today.
Photo is taken from the brochure we purchased.
The government had tried to evict the man living up there.  Turned out he has the original deeds from the Ottoman Empire times.  Now, that is really cool!   So the government cannot evict him.  I don't know what he is going to do when the dam is finished and this area is flooded.  Eventually the water level is supposed to be covering that old bridge foundation pier.  The water level is supposed to reach the top rim of that minaret to the right in the photo.

Soon we were back on the little bus and on our way to Şanliurfa, where we arrived in time for a late dinner at our very nice hotel.