The largely modern town of ISPARTA is set on a flat plain that’s dominated by 2635m Mount Davraz to the south. Its only hint of romantic appeal lies in its chief industries: rosewater and oil, distilled here for over a century, and carpets, manufactured in industrial quantities. While the lakeside town of Eğirdir, 12km east, makes a more appealing base from which to explore the region, Isparta’s surrounds blossom with colour come the annual rose harvest.

Until the 1923 exchange of populations many Greeks lived in Isparta, and their old residential quarter is a fifteen-minute walk southwest from the town centre, near the Devlet Hastanesi (State Hospital). The once handsome lath-and-plaster houses are now crumbling, but there are a couple of restored nineteenth-century churches to admire.

Isparta’s Archeological Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi) holds a reasonable collection of local finds, including some fine Roman grave stelae, plus assorted items from a nearby Bronze Age burial site. The ethnography section includes a wonderful felt-and-reed yurt, which, along with some fine old carpets and kilims, attests to the region’s bygone nomadic culture.

  • Isparta: the Rose City