Explore North Central Anatolia
When the first Turkish nomads arrived in Anatolia during the tenth and eleventh centuries, the landscape – rolling grassland dotted with rocky outcrops – must have been strongly reminiscent of their Central Asian homeland. Those who choose to trek through the region today are an equally hardy bunch, braving long journey times, occasionally tricky journeys and seasonal temperature extremes to visit towns, cities and sights far less heralded than their counterparts in South Central Anatolia. However, those willing to do a little digging will find it one of Turkey’s most rewarding and undiscovered quarters.
It seems appropriate that the heart of original Turkish settlement should be home to Ankara, the political and social centre of modern Turkey. This European-style capital rises out of a stark landscape, a symbol of Atatürk’s dream of a secular Turkish republic. Though it’s a far less exciting city than İstanbul, Ankara does make a good base for travels through Anatolia. And while it has comparatively little in the way of architectural or aesthetic merit, a visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is an essential way of gaining some impression of how Anatolia has developed since it was first settled during Neolithic times.
Those not heading straight to Ankara can take in a number of sights on their way from İstanbul to the capital. The large cities of Kütahya and Eskişehir are easy enough to get to, and the former provides access to the Roman temple site of Aezani, and the latter – for those with their own transport – to the sacred site at Midaş Șehri. The delightful Phrygian treasures of Gordion can be visited on the way to Ankara, or on a day-trip from the capital, while way up north on the way to the coast you’ll find enchanting Safranbolu, an almost completely intact Ottoman town, whose wooden houses are tucked into a narrow gorge.
Those heading east of Ankara will be able to make use of a fairly logical route. First up are the remains of Hattuşa, once the capital of the Hittite Empire and one of the earliest known cities in Turkey. Heading east again, you’ll find that several later cultures and civilizations have left their successive marks: at Amasya, the rock-cut tombs of the pre-Roman Pontic kings tower over a haphazard riverside settlement of Ottoman wooden houses; Tokat has a fine Selçuk seminary; while Sivas displays some of the best Selçuk architecture found in Turkey.Read More