Here are the door and window of a vacant house in a village near Malatya, Turkey. The house is unused because the previous inhabitant has passed away and his children and grandchildren now live in places like Istanbul or various European cities. The population of the village triples during the summer months when Turkish expats in Europe come home to relax and picnic in the mountains and fields of their childhood.
Hand-woven Anatolian and Central Asian carpets and wall hangings, displayed on the outer wall of a huge repurposed caravanserai in Göreme, Turkey.
In the Cappadocian town of Derinkuyu in central Turkey, there’s an entrance to an underground city that dates back to the time of the Hittites. The city features eight stories of underground tunnels and rooms, and that’s only the upper half that’s open to tourists. Tour buses come in and out of the parking lot of the place all day long.
On the other side of the parking lot sits a large, impressive Armenian church built some time in the 1800’s. The church is now empty and locked year round; there are no Armenians here anymore, and apparently no one who wants a church. No one approaches it except local children passing through the yard on their way to school.
This is one of the locked side doors of the abandoned building.
At a wedding in eastern Turkey. As part of the henna celebration, balls of green henna are formed around candle wicks, then set burning to celebrate the marriage.
Window shopping in Ulus. The hatter is probably frequented by older Turks for whom the hat is part of the standard winter uniform while taking their daily constitutional from home to the tea house; The shoes and lamps are nostalgic reminders of medieval times, bought by tourists and more modern Turks to decorate their homes.
“One city does not greet another, but one man greets another.”
– Sumerian proverb from Ur, c. 2000 B.C.
This proverb, quoted in Rory Stewart’s excellent book The Prince Of The Marshes, does a pretty good job of explaining how I think relationships are most genuinely formed on the international stage. In our case, we usually leave the greeting to our children. These pictures should give you an idea of the scene a year or so ago when we went on a walk with our kids through the historic Ulus neighborhood in downtown Ankara. Kaya is the little blonde two-year-old in the picture above; at that age he was still loving the attention and hadn’t gotten sick of it yet, whereas his older brother Moses (in the stroller below) was starting to develop some reservations. Perhaps it’s just a personality thing – international diplomacy can’t be every preschooler’s job.
The deserted, rock-cut village now called Açıksaray (Open Palace) is a fascinating place to explore, in my opinion one of the more interesting and relaxing in Cappadocia, and made more so by the small number of visitors. When we were there in October, we found probably about eight people besides ourselves in the entire site. The village, just outside the Turkish town of Gülşehir, dates to the 10th or 11th century and covers about a square kilometer, containing chapels, kitchens, mushroom-shaped rock formations, and dwellings, probably for monks. This is the facade of the largest complex.
This picture was taken in the Ulus neighborhood, just down the hill from Ankara’s historic castle, which was really the only part of the city to speak of before Ataturk made it the capital of the new Turkish Republic. The castle area has been protected from development for tourism-related reasons and can sometimes seem like a village in the center of the city, which is of course now a modern metropolis with four and a half million people living in it. Meanwhile, the streets around the castle have experienced an increasing proliferation of carpet and antique dealers, including this gentleman offering kilims, cicims, and suzani along with knotted-pile hali carpets, just down the street from a row of copper workers.
Saklıkent Gorge is near Kaş in southwestern Turkey. The canyon extends between cliffs like this for close to two miles, covered with running water up to your knees or deeper the entire way. It’s possible to hike through the water, crossing from bank to bank to get a brief respite standing on the rocks. The boy in the picture is my five year old son Moses (Musa to the Turks), who was a real trooper and made it the whole way in and back under his own power.