Sunday, December 1, 2019

Turkey | Hasankeyf

Update: A Turkish Dam Is About To Flood One Of The Oldest Continuously Settled Places On Earth.

My post on Hasankeyf:

Wandered by Hasankeyf, on the Tigris River about forty-six miles northeast of Mardin. As long as 3600 years ago a cave settlement was established here in the cliffs and ramparts bordering the Tigris River. It was later occupied by the Romans and turned into an important stronghold on the Roman-Parthian and later Roman-Persian border. In times of peace it served as a strategically located way-station on the Silk Road between the Orient and Occident. The headquarters of a Orthodox bishopric during early Byzantine times, it was conquered by the Arabs in the 640s and Islamized. The Mongols attacked and sacked the city in 1260. The details are unclear, but this assault on Hasankeyf may have been made by Mongol forces under the command of Kitbuqa Noyan. This Mongol army would later suffer a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Egyptian Mamluks in Palestine. In 1550 the city became part of the Ottoman Empire. It may not exist much longer. A dam now planned for the Tigris River will flood much of the area. 
Remains of the bridge over the Tigris River built in 1116 by the Artuqid Sultan Fahrettin Karaaslan. Local guides claim the the supports of this bridge were build on the foundations of an earlier bridge built by the Romans. It was one of the largest bridges in the world in the twelfth century. The Citadel can be seen on the corner of the cliffs to the left. The pier-like structure extending from the left bank is the dining area of a restaurant which serves fish fresh from the Tigris River (click on photos for enlargements). 
 Ruins of one of the main bridge supports 
 The Citadel looming above the Tigris River
 Ruins of ancient Hasankeyf
 Cave residences
Cave residences and ruins
 Pathway leading the top of the massif where the royal palaces and mosque are located. 
Another view of the pathway leading the top of the massif where the royal palaces and mosque are located. 
 Cave dwellings
 A view of modern-day Hasankeyf from near the top of the massif. The new town is inhabited by Kurds, Arabs, and Syriacs
 Another view from the top of the massif
 A massif which according to locals served as the site of an important mint where silver and gold coins were made. The only access to the top, where the mint was located, was via the staircase carved out the rock which can be seen winding its way upward near the middle of the massif.
 Another view from the top of the massif where the royal palaces are located
 The top of the main massif
Ruins of dwellings on the massif
 Ruins of one of the royal places, reportedly built by the Ayyubids, descendants of the great Saladin,  who conquered the area in the 1230s. 
 The Ulu Mosque, at the top of the main massif, was probably also built by the Ayyubids in the thirteenth or fourteen century. 
 Another view of the Ulu Mosque
 Graveyard associated with the Ulu Mosque
 Tombstone with the Ulu Mosque in the background
 More tombstones
We descended from the massif and walked up the valley to a famous spring where people go to either meditate or indulge in Dionysian bacchanalias, depending on their inclinations. 
 The spring. I consider myself a cognoscente of drinking water and this water was excellent. It was not mineralized and icy cold, even though the air temperature was in the low 90ºs F.
A couple of miles from Hasankeyf is another smaller cave complex. 
 Cave dwellings
 Cave dwellings
 Just upstream from current-day Hasankeyf is the tomb of Zeynel Bey, ruler of the Hasankeyf area fron 1462 to 1482. 
Current-day Hasankeyf is famous for its fish restaurants with fresh fish from the Tigris River. Many of the restaurants feature dining on barges in the river. 
Relaxing on the dining barge in the Tigris river. Ancient cave dwellings can be seen on the far bank of the Tigris.
Information About The Dam which will flood much of the area if built. 

Turkey | Turkish Riviera | Antalya | Kaleiçi

The 2016 Winter Solstice occurred in Mongolia on December 21 at 6:44 pm. It was of course the shortest day of the year. There were eight hours, twenty-two minutes, and fifty-four seconds of daylight, five seconds less than on December 20. On December 22 there would be two seconds more daylight. So the days would be getting longer. I climbed to the top of Zaisan Tolgoi just north of my hovel before sunset on the 21st and at the moment of the Solstice made  appropriate offerings and orisons. The next morning I absquatulated to Istanbul, where I caught another flight to the city of Antalya on the Turkish Riviera, about 300 miles south-southeast of Istanbul.
Antalya, on the Mediterranean Sea
Turkey’s fifth largest city, with a population of over a million, Antalya is the second biggest tourist destination in the country. Over 12.5 million visitors passed through Antalya in 2014, with most of them staying at beach resorts to the east and west of the city. Antalya was especially popular with Germans and Russians. Of course since 2014 there have been a Spate Of Terrorist Attacks in Turkey,  including one in Sultahmet Square which killed thirteen people, eight of them Germans. Then  relations with Russia soured after Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter which had allegedly strayed into Turkish airspace. Tourism Tanked in the backwash:
One of Europe's largest travel companies reports that bookings to Turkey are down 40 percent. Turkey's largest resort, Antalya, is popular with Russian tourists and has already been badly hit, according to Atilla Yesilada, an Istanbul-based consultant with Global Source Partners. "A lot of companies are in serious difficulty,” Yesilada said. “Up to 1,300 hotels are up for sale. In Antalya, tourist arrivals by air are down by 21 percent. There is really a lot of hardship."
Of course now is off-season for the beach resorts. Those visitors that stay in the city congregate in Kaleiçi, the Old Quarter, which was surrounded by walls during Roman times. The price of hotel rooms has been slashed to one-half or one-third of the regular rate at most hotels. Kaleiçi is where I am holed up. I appear to be the only guest in the “butik” hotel where I am staying.  The streets of Kaleiçi, lined with upscale hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and gift shops, are eerily deserted. In the early mornings I  sometimes walk around for half an hour before I see another human being. Only in the afternoons do a few Russians, Chinese tour groups, and Turks from other parts of Turkey make an appearance. So it is a good place to avoid the end of the year (according to the Gregorian calendar) hullabaloo.
Downtown Antalya with Kaleiçi, the Old Quarter, to the right of center
 City of Antalya with the Taurus Mountains behind (click on photos for enlargements)
Antalya Bay, with the city on the right
Antalya Harbor
Another view of Antalya Harbor
The original settlement of Kaleiçi was founded by Attalos II, king of Permagon, between BC 159–138. King Attalus II eventually bequeathed his entire kingdom, including the city of Antalya, to the Romans and it became part of the Roman Empire.
 Kaleiçi, the Old Quarter, outlined in red

Hadrian’s Gate, the ceremonial entrance to Kaleiçi. It was built to honor the Roman emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city in 130 AD. This is of course the same Hadrian who built Hadrian’s Wall in what is now northern England.
Another view of Hadrian’s Gate
Ruins of the Korkut Mosque
A pagan temple was built on this site in the 2nd century AD. In the 6th AD the temple was knocked down and replaced with a Christian church. The church was heavily damaged by the Arab invasions of the 7th century, and it was finally rebuilt in the 9th century. In the 13th century is was converted into a mosque by the Seljuqs Of Rum. Then Antalya was captured the Christian king Peter I of Cyprus, who converted back into a church. The city was later seized by the Ottomans and Sultan Beyazit II’s  son Korkut (1470–1509) turned it into a mosque again. The mosque was largely destroyed by a fire in 1896 and is now in ruins.
Ruins of the Korkut Mosque
Ruins of the Korkut Mosque
Ruins of the Korkut Mosque
Ruins of the Korkut Mosque
Ruins of the Korkut Mosque
Minaret of the Korkut Mosque. The top was destroyed in the fire of 1896.
The Yivli Minare (Fluted Minaret) built by the Seljuqs of Rum in the thirteenth century
Another view of the Fluted Minaret
Iconic view of Antalya