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Plans are ahoof for the celebration in 2011 of the 400th anniversary of the birth of Evliya Çelebi – an Ottoman Marco Polo and Samuel Pepys rolled into one. A selection of extracts from his compendious Book of Travel, chosen by the doyen of Evliya studies, Robert Dankoff and published by Eland Books in 2010, will offer the first opportunity for a general readership to savour his witty, first-hand portrait of the Ottoman realm in English.
He will be remembered on the path as well as on the page: on September 22, 2009, I will be setting off with a group of riders to trace one of Evliya’s routes on horseback for the first time. Taking his Book of Travels as a road map, we will follow the early stages of his journey to complete the pilgrimage in 1671, retracing his tracks from the south Marmara village of Hersek to the town of Simav – a distance of some 1000km. As they travel through magnificent landscapes and village byways they will discover the disappearing equestrian culture of western Anatolia. The Evliya Çelebi Ride will become the basis for a cultural route, the Evliya Çelebi Way. Extracts from the diary of the ride are published in Corncuopia 43
Norman Stone unravels the history of Kars
Unlocking the door to the private world of Feyhaman and Güzin Duran, by Maureen Freely
The Turkic Uighurs of Western China have long chafed under Communist Chinese rule. Christian Tyler meets their formidable figurehead, Rebiya Kadeer, who spent five years in prison for protesting against her people’s treatment and now carries on her fight for their freedom from Washington
Robert Ousterhout is agog at the remarkable Georgian churches of the Tao-Klarjeti, the two medieval Georgian principalities between Kars and the Kaçkars
For the English-speaking community of Istanbul the suggestion of aqueduct-hunting in Thrace strikes fear into the hearts of all but the foolhardy. Relentlessly cheerful, Prof James Crow of Edinburgh University would laugh off each misadventure and forge onward.
Leo Gough grew up in the hothouse atmosphere of Cold War Ankara, where his father was director of the British Institute of Archaeology. He recalls tales of derring-do from the larger-than-life visitors and scholars who passed through the institute’s doors
Kate Clow, pioneering waymarker and author of two walking guides to the Taurus Mountains, has now created a guide to trekking in the Kaçkars. Here she describes four breathtaking one-day walks.
By whatever name it is known – whether Karataş Yayla (Black Rock Pasture) or ÇaGrankaya (Singing Rock) – this spur of the Kaçkars is full of drama. Andrew Byfield battled rain and fog to reach its riches
The work of Feyhaman Duran and his contemporaries, once dismissed as unfashionably figurative, is now attracting renewed interest. A recent exhibition at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum in Istanbul celebrated their work. Berrin Torolsan selects some of her favourites
High in the apparently empty Kaçkars, the way of life is as old as the hills. Michael Hornsby joins in the fun at a village festival in remote summer pastures. Photographs by Giulio Rubino
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