Extract

East with the Night

A journey to Konya and Central Anatolia

Rory Knight Bruce leaves Istanbul to explore an oft-neglected region of Central Anatolia – a land of whirling dervishes, ancient caves, colourful kilims and, regrettably, ‘Konya pizza’. Photographs by Faruk Akbaş

  • A shepherd and his flock. The kepenek, a sleeveless coat of felt, is the only garment
    guaranteed to ward off the bitter cold of a Central Anatolian winter.

A 10-page feature exploring Central Anatolia.

The fascination of Istanbul is enough to keep visitors and even the city’s more Westernised residents, from exploring the Asian interior of Central Anatolia, whose local capital, Konya, boasts a million residents and a daunting commitment to Muslim fundamentalism. But a night’s journey by train from Haydarpaşa brings one back to the very dawn of civilisation, and the experience is well worth the not inconsiderable effort of exploring.

There is Konya itself, crucible of the thirteen-century Sufi poet Mevlana, stronghold of the fundamentalist Refah party, and a place given over to strict abstinence from alcohol, perhaps compensated for by a reputedly gargantuan appetite for pornographic material. Within a two-hour drive by car is the idyllic valley of A Thousand and One Churches at Madenşehri, the crow’s-nest Byzantine ruins of Alahan high in the Toros Mountains and, for the enquiring anthropologist, Çatal Höyük, the birthplace of Palaeolithic cave culture, unearthed in the 1960s by the British archaeologist James Mellaart. Nearby mud-built houses with flat straw roofs remind a British traveller of eighteenth-century Dorsetshire.

“Good luck:” was the frequent rejoinder of Istanbul friends as I made my way to board the meram Express from Haydarpaşa, whose monumental Victorian railway station smacks of the East.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 7

Issue 7, 1994/95 The Great Walls of Istanbul
£250.00 / $346.50 / 1,318.95 TL
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Buy the issue
Issue 7, 1994/95 The Great Walls of Istanbul
£250.00 / $346.50 / 1,318.95 TL
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