Turkey

Museum City Ahlat

Article: Melih Uslu Photo: Erkan Tabakoğlu Date: Monday, 31 March 2014

WE ARE IN AHLAT, CURRENTLY A CANDIDATE FOR WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE STATUS. LIKE CARPETS OF STONE, THE MONUMENTAL STONE SLABS HERE ARE A MAGNET FOR TOURISTS, WHETTING CURIOSITY LIKE THE ORKHON INSCRIPTIONS OF NORTHERN MONGOLIA.

Ahlat (or Akhlat) is the gateway to Anatolia. Here, on Lake Van’s most scenic shores, are the city of Bitlis, city of our Ottoman forefathers, and the Islamic dome of the Seljuks. Ahlat, a city perched like a seaside town on a gentle slope covered in fruit orchards...
Surveying the deep blue waters of Lake Van and the snowy peaks of Süphan, Turkey’s third highest peak, as you sip your tea here is a pleasure like no other. Its natural beauty and fertile plain have made Ahlat a popular area of settlement throughout history. From the Urartu to the Ottoman, these lands have been home to numerous civilizations during their glorious 1,500-year past. The town also enjoys the distinction of being the largest founded by the Turks in Anatolia following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
Turkish tribes began pouring into the region after the clash, in which the Turks routed the Byzantines. On the stone monuments at Ahlat, dubbed “City of the Oghuz Tribe” by Evliya Çelebi, you will find traces of the Turkish clans that settled in the region following the great battle. The Oghuz Kayı Clan, which founded the Ottoman Empire, stayed in Ahlat for 170 years prior to settling at Söğüt in the second half of the 13th century. Legend has it that Ertuğrul Gazi, the father of Osman Bey who founded the Ottoman dynasty, was born in Ahlat and lived there into his twenties.

THE SEA OF AHLAT
We know that the fish caught in Lake Van, formerly known as the Sea of Ahlat, are one of the city’s major sources of income. The local people, who made masterful use of the lake for shipping in the Middle Ages, quickly transformed Ahlat into a commercial hub. With a population of around 300,000 in the 13th and 14th centuries, Ahlat was the political capital of a vast swath of land stretching from Diyarbakır to Tabriz, becoming a city of culture and learning as well with economic prosperity. Among the famous figures produced by the city, which trained scholars in diverse fields from medicine to astronomy, are the celebrated philosopher Abu Ali al-Ahlati, the chemist and inventor Ibrahim ibn Abdullah of Ahlat, the astronomer Fahreddin Ahlati and the religious scholar Sheikh Husaini Ahlati.
But Ahlat was also a city of artisans and architects. The domed Seljuk mausoleums (kümbet or gonbad) and the shapes of the columns of the Orkhon Monuments, the oldest inscriptions in the Turkish language, were brought to Anatolia from Central Asia, producing their finest examples at Ahlat.  Although the sources mention some 100 plus Seljuk mausoleums at Ahlat, only around 15 are still standing today and two of those are semi-destroyed. But even this figure exceeds the total number in other parts of Turkey. The most outstanding of the Ahlat kümbets, which throw light on three centuries of artistic development from the 13th to the 15th century, bear the names of Sheikh Najmuddin, Erzen Hatun, Usta Shagird and Bayındır.

CITY OF RUINS
Situated in a long, narrow valley, the center of Old Ahlat is known as a “city of ruins”. With remnants of Seljuk castles, mosques, bridges, towers, baths and dervish lodges, this place is like a giant open-air museum. And cheek by jowl with this mysterious city rife with the remains of structures carved into the rocks is the world’s largest Turkish-Islamic graveyard. We tour this vast site, unmatched in the world in terms of architectural richness, with Ahmet Çapkun, a researcher based at Ahlat Museum. Çapkun says that upwards of 8,100 mausoleums of historic significance have been identified in the Seljuk Graveyard, which covers approximately 50 acres. There are monumental stones as high as 3.5 meters at this burial site, which was used continuously between the 11th and 16th centuries. The main material used in the mausoleums, which include sarcophagi and cists either with or without inscriptions, is the volcanic red stone peculiar to the area. Prof. Dr. Altan Çetin of Gazi University says that the stone decorations here represent some of the rarest examples of ornamentation from the Seljuk period. He adds that geometric motifs, vegetal patterns and stylized scripts were virtually worked like lace into the stone used in the mihrabs, rosettes, muqarnas work and star motifs seen in Seljuk architecture. And indeed the stone here seems to whisper of the countless travelers who have passed through these lands. If you listen closely, you will hear a lot more than we have told you here in Ahlat, a once-vibrant Anatolian settlement that rose to a pinnacle in art, science and religion.

AHLAT GUIDE
AHLAT STONE
A kind of volcanic tufa, Ahlat stone continues to be worked today. Local stonemason Tahsin Kalender was added to the UNESCO Living Human Treasures List in 2012.

AHLAT CANES
Ahlat’s famous tradition of handmade canes traces its roots back from Central Asia to Anatolia. What distinguishes these canes is their array of Turkish motifs carved in walnut wood. The price of the canes, decorated with animal figures, ranges as high as TL 1,500 (around 500 euros).

SALTED PEARL MULLET
The best-known dish in Ahlat, which boasts a rich array of original dishes, is büryan kebab Bitlis-style. Other tastes unique to the region include a meatball soup known as kilorik, a pickled cabbage dish called çorti taplama, a meat and ground wheat keşkek called harise, pickled kenger (thistle), salted pearl mullet, and murtuğa helvah with egg.

ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUM
While you’re in Ahlat, you can visit Bitlis Ethnographic Museum where you’ll find manuscript works as well as a host of local artifacts and reanimations.

NEW PAPŞİN HAN
Another recommended sight at Bitlis is the medieval inn called Yeni (New) Papşin Han. Converted into a handicrafts school today, this historic hostel also offers occasional evening concerts.

GETTING THERE
The most convenient way of getting to Ahlat is to fly to Muş, just an hour and a half by car. Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Muş-Istanbul flights every day of the week. Departures are at 12:55 p.m. from Istanbul and 3:40 p.m. from Muş. For information:
turkishairlines.com

Kıraç’s Kahramanmaraş

Article: Sezgin Çevik Photo: Şamil Kucur Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

KIRAÇ IS BACK IN THE NEWS WITH HIS NEW ALBUM, “ÇIK HAYATIMDAN” (GET OUT OF MY LIFE). WE ASKED HIM ABOUT KAHRAMANMARAŞ, WHERE HE LIVED AS A BOY.

You were in Kahramanmaraş until puberty. What do you remember about it?
There’s a certain serenity in Maraş that comes from the “garbiyeli”. I remember this wind from childhood. It’s a blessed breeze that parted the curtain of mysticism for me. I used to read about it in the fairy tales written and illustrated by Mustafa Dulkadiroğlu.

What is this “garbiyeli”?
It’s a gentle breeze that comes up every evening out of the Taurus mountains. It never fails. It starts a couple of hours before sundown and lasts for a couple of hours after that. They call it garbiyeli, and it transforms Maraş into paradise.

And what about Maraş ice cream?
It’s legendary! The most prized food of my childhood. The outstanding taste of this ice cream comes from the goat’s milk and wild thyme that are native to Maraş. Maraş salep is unbelievable too. It has a pleasantly tart taste that’s absolute magic.

Do you like Maraş cuisine?
There’s perfect harmony between the hot spices of the East and the olive oil of the West in Maraş cuisine. Maraş dishes have a certain piquancy that comes from sumac and pomegranate molasses. My favorite is Eşkilaye sulusu.

On The Shores Of The Black Sea

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

SITUATED AT TURKEY’S NORTHERNMOST POINT, SINOP IS A SMALL BUT IMPRESSIVE CITY WITH A PANORAMIC VIEW OF THE BLACK SEA.

- You will feel the city’s historic texture as you tour Sinop Castle, which is thought to have been built in the 8th century by colonists from Miletus and completely covers the northern portion of the peninsula.
- The Archaeological Museum, which opened in 1921, is home to many well-preserved artifacts. Visit this small but jam-packed museum in the heart of the city and get an idea about Sinop’s past.
- Famous for its tasty cuisine, you can try dishes like nokul (meat pie), pilaki (fish stew), kaşık çıkartması (mamalika), ıslama and corn soup at local restaurants scattered around Sinop.
- Be sure to pay a visit to Erfelek Tatlıca Falls, a series of 28 cascades one behind the other, just 20 kilometers from the city center.
- Make a stop as well at the Historic Sinop Prison, which closed in 1999 and was converted into a museum used now as a set for cinema and TV productions as well as a venue for cultural events.

Construction Sector Meets In Istanbul

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE BIGGEST MEETING IN THE TURKISH CONSTRUCTION SECTOR AND IN THE REGION IS TAKING PLACE IN ISTANBUL.

The biggest meeting in the Turkish construction sector and in the region, 37th Yapı Fuarı - Turkeybuild Istanbul is bringing the products and services of 1,150 participating firms together with upwards of 111,000 visitors. With its business opportunities and the international activities on its program, as well as product diversity representing the latest in innovation and technology, the fair, at Büyükçekmece Tüyap May 6 to 10, is a major event in the sector.

Everything About Kites

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

PASSION FOR KITES IS BEING REKINDLED BY THE ÜSKÜDAR MUNICIPALITY’S MEHMET NACI AKÖZ KITE MUSEUM AND KITE WORKSHOP.

Upwards of 2,000 kites and kite-related materials from 26 countries are on display at the museum. And for a small fee, visitors can experiment with kite building in the company of instructors in the workshop on the lower floor. Admission is free at this museum, which is open daily except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

40 Years From The Pen Of Selçuk Demi̇rel

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE WORKS OF TURKISH CARTOONIST AND ILLUSTRATOR SELÇUK DEMIREL ARE COMING TOGETHER IN A RETROSPECTIVE.

A selection of cartoons that appeared in the press between 1974 and 2004 by Selçuk Demirel, who has been working in Paris since 1978, are being exhibited in a show titled  “A Vol d’Oiseau” (As the Crow Flies). You will discover the artist’s unique outlook on the events of the last forty years in this retrospective on Selçuk Demirel, who brings major world happenings and political and social turning points to his cartoons. You can view the drawings of Selçuk Demirel at the Istanbul French Culture Center from April 2 through August 31.

SELÇUK DEMİREL
The works of Selçuk Demirel, who has published more than 40 books and albums of drawings, have appeared in publications like Cumhuriyet, Yeni Yüzyıl and Milliyet in Turkey and Le Monde, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time and Business Week abroad.

To Another 600 Years!

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

SABANCI UNIVERSITY’S SAKIP SABANCI MUSEUM IS HOSTING A SPECIAL EXHIBITION TO MARK 600 YEARS OF RELATIONS BETWEEN TURKEY AND POLAND.

Mounted under the auspices of the Presidents of the Republics of Turkey and Poland and sponsored by the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs, the exhibition features a total of 348 pieces from museum, archive, library, monastery and church collections. The exhibition, called Distant Neighbor Close Memories: 600 Years of Polish-Turkish Relations, is open to visitors at the Sabancı Museum, March 7 to June 15.

Gulf Capital In Istanbul

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT SUMMIT IS HOSTING INVESTORS IN THE ENERGY AND CONSTRUCTION FIELDS FROM QATAR, SAUDI ARABIA, KUWAIT AND THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.

Gulf capital’s investors and international investment funds are coming together at the “International Investment Summit” in Istanbul. Investors and those looking to invest will have a chance to meet and talk at this summit, which is being hosted by investors at the Shangri-La Bosphorus, April 10 and 11.

Simultaneous Exhibitions At Pera

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

PICASSO: ENGRAVINGS AND CERAMICS FROM THE HOUSE OF HIS BIRTH AND AURORA: CONTEMPORARY NORDIC GLASS ART AWAIT VISITORS IN PERA.

A selection of engravings, ceramics and personal objects from the house in which Pablo Picasso was born and the Museo Casa Natal Collection in Malaga, and Aurora: Contemporary Nordic Glass Art , featuring 51 pieces by 25 world-famous artists, can be seen at Beyoğlu’s Pera Museum through April 20.

Italian Horizons

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

IN ITS FOURTH YEAR, “ORIZZONTI ITALIANI” IS PRESENTING A WIDE RANGE OF EVENTS TO MAKE ITALY’S PRESENCE ACTIVELY AND DYNAMICALLY FELT IN TURKEY.

MEDITERRANEAN STORIES
Turkish and Italian experts are organizing a conference on Meetings of People and Culture between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age on April 4. The meeting, where the complex mosaic of commercial and cultural relations among the Mediterranean peoples will be discussed, is at the Istanbul Casa d’Italia.

NEOREALISM
Masterpieces of Italian cinema’s Neo-realism movement will be shown at the Pera Museum cinema salon throughout April. Among the films to be shown are Roberto Rossellini’s Rome, Open City, Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni and Vittorio de Sica’s Umberto D.

Patron Saint Of Istanbul Portrayed In New Novel

Article: Hasan Mert Kaya Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

PROF. DR. İSKENDER PALA TELLS THE STORY OF ABU AYYUB AL-ANSARI IN HIS LATEST NOVEL, MIHMANDAR (THE GOOD HOST). WE HAD A PLEASANT CHAT WITH HIM ABOUT THE BOOK.

How did the idea to write a novel about Abu Ayyub al-Ansari come about?
We have heroes in Turkey that young people especially could take as models in their lives. These people however are not well known and not really part of our mental world. They don’t occupy our minds much in that sense, and this gives rise to identity problems. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Eyüp Sultan in Turkish) is one of the foremost symbolic figures of our spiritual milieu. A personality whose name is known to almost all of us but whose life has hardly been examined. In the novel I attempt to rectify that situation to some extent.

What was Abu Ayyub al-Ansari’s connection with Istanbul?
First of all, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was one of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the Ansar (people of Medina who helped the Prophet after his flight from Mecca). A blessed man who hosted the Prophet in his home for six months, as well as a great warrior who took part in the Arab campaign to conquer Istanbul and lost his life in the struggle for the city. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari occupies a very important place in the Istanbul hierarchy. The Ottoman state restored Eyüp, which was a small town on the outskirts of the city, and encouraged building and settlement there. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari himself was an exemplary servant; therefore, almost all the Ottoman sultans also paid homage to him, some of them by penning calligraphy, others by erecting fountains in his name. The Girding of the Sword ceremony was also held at Eyüp.

How did you prepare for writing the novel?
For all my novels, I always visit the place where the story is set. For my Barbarossa novel I went to Italy and Spain and toured the Mediterranean region. For Mihmandar I went to Mecca and from there to Medina, where Abu Ayyub al-Ansari made his home. I sat cross-legged on the floor, opened my computer and contemplated the Tomb of the Prophet, and the story simply came to me. Then I handed it over to my editors.

Can you give us a hint about your new work?
It’s still too early to say, but I would like to write something about the Century of Felicity, or period in which the Prophet Muhammad lived. I’d like to perpetuate that spiritual climate and pass it along to my readers.

Luz Casal in Istanbul

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE VELVET VOICE OF SPANISH MUSIC, LUZ CASAL IS COMING TO ISTANBUL ART LOVERS ONCE AGAIN.

The artist, who is coming to Istanbul on a world tour to promote her new album, “Alma”, which was recorded in Los Angeles, will be performing new songs from the album as well as the top songs of her 30-year career at Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall on April 21. Visit www.biletix.com  to find out more about the concert and purchase tickets.

Heart Of Music Beats In Ankara

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE INTERNATIONAL ANKARA MUSIC FESTIVAL IS ADDING COLOR TO THE CITY THROUGH MUSIC AND DANCE, APRIL 4 TO 20.

In its 31st year, the festival is bringing music lovers together with soloists and ensembles from a broad region stretching from Russia to Venezuela. Prominent artists trained in Turkey and pursuing careers abroad will also be coming to art lovers at the festival, which boasts a program rich in classical music, chamber music, world music and dance. For information about the festival: www.ankarafestival.com

Packing Istanbul’s Movie Theaters

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

THE COUNTDOWN HAS BEGUN TO THE 33RD ANNUAL ISTANBUL FILM FESTIVAL, MOUNTED BY THE ISTANBUL FOUNDATION OF CULTURE AND ARTS (İKSV).

No doubt about it, the Istanbul Film Festival is the first event that springs to film buffs’ minds come April. As in previous years, the program for this major film event that reaches audiences of around 150,000 in Turkey every year is again jam-packed. Featuring workshops, film classes and interviews with master filmmakers, not to mention the upwards of 200 films in more than 20 different categories, the Istanbul Film Festival will take place at six theaters around the city from April 5 to 20.

Alaçatı Herb Festival

Date: Sunday, 30 March 2014

A TYPICAL TOWN ON THE AEGEAN, WHERE WILD HERBS ENRICH THE LOCAL CUISINE, ALAÇATI HAS BEEN HOSTING AN HERB FESTIVAL FOR FIVE YEARS.

The Mediterranean’s warm breezes have gently caressed the herbs on the hills for centuries. And the locals have gathered those herbs with an undying passion. These wild herbs, most of which we don’t even know by name, release their true flavor in the region’s deliciously aromatic olive oil. Much talked about in world gastronomy circles today, the Mediterranean diet actually originated in this part of Turkey.
The town of Alaçatı, situated at the southern tip of the Çeşme peninsula smack dab in the middle of the Aegean, is famous, too, for its wind surfing and stone houses. Settling here following the “mübadele” or population exchange of 1922, the immigrants from Crete have never forgotten their herbal dishes, nor the Bosnians their herb beureks and other delicacies. The residents of Alaçatı, who are striving to maintain their native cuisine, with its heavy use of herbs, in an age of fast food and a kebab invasion, host the “Alaçatı Herb Festival” every five years.
If you’d like to learn this cuisine straight from centenarian grannies who speak the language of herbs and literally talk to them, join in the celebration on April 12 and 13!

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