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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 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.
The Anastasian and Theodosian walls together protected the city for many years; but now this vast and beautiful network is under attack from within. Cornucopia investigates the dangers that threaten this important cultural icon and its surroundings.
The Çuruksulu Mehmet Pasha Yali once saw diplomatic service as the home of the ambassador Muharrem Nuri Birgi. Beautifully preserved, its restrained exterior and spacious interior evince the classical age of Ottoman style, and its clifftop position provides timeless views
Chris Farrard questions the motives behind William Allan’s famous Slave Market
During the Turkish quail-hunting season, man’s best friend is the sparrowhawk. Roger Upton describes how these redoubtable birds help to bring home the bacon
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