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Extract

Vanishing Villages

Nicholas Haslam and Paul Veysseyre are captivated by the tumbledown houses of Lake Eğirdir

Can ingenious new ideas coupled with old country wisdom stave off the long-predicted death of the Anatolian village? We sent two keen conservationists to Turkey’s lake district. The writer Nicholas Haslam found reasons for hope. The photographer Paul Veysseyre captured the poignant beauty of its tumbledown houses

  • A small fishing caique and a stepladder for apple-picking create an evocative picture of Eğirdir’s mainstays. Photograph by Paul Veysseyre, 2018

Three hours apart on foot, two villages while away their days among cultivated terraces, rose gardens and high summer pastures. Black goats bleat and cattle graze in fields of wild flowers. Barla, the larger village, dominates the head of a dramatic gorge and descends via steep cobbled and dirt streets along a buttress bordering a small river crossed by two Ottoman bridges. Bağören lies on a shallower slope. Far below to the east spreads the pale blue of Lake Eğirdir, ringed with hills. All around rise peaks of the western Taurus Mountains, culminating in Mount Barla at just shy of 3,000 metres. A wrong turn in Bağören had led us to encounter İbrahim, who with a “Selam” and a tap of his stick averted a run-in with a growling Kangal sheepdog blocking the way. İbrahim was a compact, well-presented man of about 70, with flat cap, checked pullover and loose brown trousers. His weathered face exuded friendliness and curiosity.

“Are you lost, by any chance?” he said quietly in Turkish, in an accent I was pleased to understand. A short conversation ensued about our unexpected presence in his domain. We talked about the landmarks and waymarks that would guide us on our route along part of the St Paul Trail (a 500-kilometre footpath over the Taurus Mountains named after the Apostle, who preached in these parts). Then, with a slight gesture, he set off steadily towards the village square with us in tow.

Around us were two-storey houses with walls of limestone and brick neatly banded with timber (traditional earthquake protection) and incorporating occasional pieces of repurposed masonry. They had gently sloping tiled or metal roofs, and pentices and lean-tos formed a matchstick jumble. The ground floors are (or were) reserved for livestock and storage, while the first floors, complete with simple selamlık (reception room), are for humans.

In Barla, a more significant place, the houses are taller and more elaborate. Carved doorways frame the entrances, balconies adorn the walls, and upper façades are clad in wood. Overhanging the streets are trees and flowering creepers, and four huge plane trees guard four mosques…

To read the full article, purchase Issue 61

Issue 61, Summer 2020 The Road to Pergamon
£12.00 / $15.69 / 115.10 TL
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 61
  • Emigré’s Escape

    In 1919 the Ukrainian artist Alexis Gritchenko fled Russia for Istanbul. Here he befriended Turkish artists and walked the streets, keeping a diary and making sketches, then applying ‘dynamos’ of colour. A new exhibition throws light on his stay in the city

  • The Road to Pergamon

    A shared fascination with the Roman Empire impelled Britain’s greatest photographer, Sir Donald McCullin, to join the writer Barnaby Rogerson on a foray to the Troad to capture Rome’s Aegean legacy


  • Norman Stone

    Roger Norman looks back over the life of the late historian and writer Norman Stone – always unconventional, sometimes difficult, frequently mischievous – who, after less-than-happy times teaching at Oxford and Cambridge and a stint as an adviser to Margaret Thatcher, chose to make his home in Turkey


  • ‘Health to the Body, Food to the Soul’

    Centuries ago, travellers to Turkey were amazed by a new, uplifting taste sensation: the sherbet, flowery or fruity, and served with ice. Berrin Torolsan traces the history of sherbets and the sorbets made from them, and serves up an irresistible array of cooling summery treats


  • Café Come Home

    Istanbul without coffee houses is a day without sun. It was here that they were born, and they are still as individual and interesting as their clientele. Savour them while you can, says Andrew Finkel. Photo essay by Monica Fritz

  • Where the Wild Things Are

    The botanist Andrew Byfield relives the happy days on Bozdağ, in the Taurus Mountains. Flowers thrive there in the harsh climate on bare limestone cliffs and in fractured gullies, and cedar of Lebanon and black pine brave all that nature can throw at them



Buy the issue
Issue 61, Summer 2020 The Road to Pergamon
£12.00 / $15.69 / 115.10 TL
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