Galatya, where Amasya meets Tokat & Çorum
A visual medley of historic mosques, fortresses, mansions, madrasas, and caravanserais, Galatya is home to Turkey’s hidden wonders where history buffs will really get their fill. Wandering in each city is an opportunity to catch a glimpse of life at old times, with many historical buildings at the numerous ancient sites.
Amasya is one of Turkey's most beautiful small cities, waiting to be discovered. Located in Northern Turkey, Amasya stretches along the banks of the Yeşilırmak, nestled into the Harşena Mountain overlooking Black Sea.
In antiquity, Amasya was a fortified and wealthy provincial capital that produced many kings and artists, thinkers and sultans throughout the centuries. Home of the famous Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian Strabo, as well as renowned Armenian physician and writer Amirdovlat Amasiatsi, Amasya resembles an outdoor museum with its history of 7500 years.
Amasya was ruled by Hittite, Frig, Kimmer, Lidya, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Danismend, Selcuklu, Ilhanli and Ottoman civilizations. During Ottoman era, it became famous as “The City of Princes” as this was where Ottoman princes learned governing. Later, the bases of Turkish Salvation War were also established in Amasya.
Let's take a look at what to see in this cute city:
Rock Tombs of the Kings (Kral Kaya Mezarları): The former royal palace and the tombs of the kings of Pontus, carved into the rock of Harşena are what strike you when you first look around Amasya. Strabo was the first to write about these 23 rock tombs, carved into limestone with extended straight walls and stairs from 3rd century BC. There’s also the Aynalı Cave Rock Tomb out of the town center 3 km, near the district named Ziyaret. It's possible to climb up the tombs to take a close look at and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Don't forget to take a look at the tombs when they are illuminated at night time 😉
Amasya Citadel: Amasya Citadel has defended the city against the attacks of the Persian, Roman, Pontus and Byzantine Empires until the 18th century when it lost its strategic importance. Noteworthy for its eight layers of defense walls, The Kızlar Palace was used as a women’s quarters in the period of the crown princes.
Old Ottoman Houses (Yalıboyu Evleri): Many graceful old Ottoman houses have been preserved, some serving as boutique hotels and others as restaurants, cafés, and museums. Out of the 258 officially registered dwellings, you can visit the 19th century Hazeranlar Konağı, a typical mansion built by Defterdarı Hasan Talat Efendi in the name of his sister Hazeran Hanım in 1872, which has a small art gallery and an ethnographical museum.
Amasya Museum: Amasya Museum is one of the richest in terms of artifact count in Anatolia. The museum is home to more than 24.000 artifacts belonging to 11 different civilizations. Boasting the only examples in the world of Muslim mummies, the musuem is also home to the world-famous statue of one of the two main gods of Hittites; Storm God Tesup. Remains from archaeological excavations in Oluz Mound prove that transition from paganism under the influence of both the Greek gods and the Phrygian period to monotheistic religion started here.
Museum of the National Struggle: Saraydüzü Barracks is where the Amasya Circular, which laid the foundations for the Republic of Turkey, was drafted. Mustafa Kemal had come to Amasya to arrange the plans of the Salvation War, Erzurum and Sivas Congresses.
Bimarhane Madrasa: This is the only structure that remains from the era of Ilkhanids (southwestern section of the Mongol Empire). Its front facet is regarded as one of the best architectural works in Anatolia. It later served as a hospital and a madrasa in the 14th century, during Sultan Fatih's era. Sabuncuoğlu Medicine Museum exhibits the medicine book written by the doctor Şerafettin Sabuncuoğlu, explaining treatments including musical therapy.
Sultan II Bayezid Külliyesi: Composed of a mosque, theology school, monument, and fountain, this külliye (Islamic-Ottoman social complex) was constructed in the name of Sultan Bayezid II between 1484-1488. With two beautiful minarets that are covered in colorful stones, the complex also has an old plane tree that is believed to be as old as the külliye itself.
Mosque of the Spiral Minaret (Burmalı Minare Camii): There are only a few spiral minarets in Turkish mosques and Amasya has one from Seljuk era dating back to 13th-century.
Taş Han: A historic commercial warehouse in the town center which is converted to a luxury hotel.
Ferhat Water Channel: This impressive 18-kilometer-long either late-Hellenistic or early-Roman water channel is visible on the outskirts of the town. It was built to supply water both through tunnels and aqueducts as required by the terrain. In local folklore, both the name of the mountain and water channel have been associated with the legendary love story; that these tunnels were dug by Ferhat, a tragic star-crossed figure who was in love with Şirin, the sister of a sultan queen in the time of the Persians. According to the legend, Ferhat tried to win Şirin's father's favour and permission by tunnelling through the mountain to bring spring water to his palace. Sadly, while he was working he was sent the false information that Shirin had died; upon which he threw himself onto the rocks in his grief. And his beloved princess died soon after the tragic news. The story has since become a play by Nâzım Hikmet, a novel by Talip Apaydın, and an opera by Arif Melikov.
⦁ Just 50 km northeast of Amasya amid magnificent mountain scenery, Borabay Lake is a popular place for day trips.
⦁ Amasya is surrounded by orchards which produce some of the world's most delicious apples.
⦁ Amasya has developed a regal cuisine with characteristic taste, looks and quality. An example of the local food is keşkek, confirmed to be an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey by UNESCO.
Having hosted many civilizations in its 6000-year existence, Tokat is described as a “living Seljuk city” by historians. The city lies at the foot of a hill, decorated with rich white houses preserved from the Ottoman period, spread along each bank of Yesilirmak River, which are connected by a beautiful Seljuk bridge from 12th century.
The civilizations that ruled Tokat include Hitties, Phrygians, Medes, Persians, the Empire of Alexander the Great, the Kingdom of Pontus, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Danışmend Turks, the Seljuks, and the Mogol İlkanhids and Ottomans.
Ottoman Mansions: A tradition of carved and painted wood decoration and painted murals give Tokat's konaks a particular elegance. The 19th century Madimagin Celalin Mansion and the Latifoglu Mansion have been restored to their former splendor and give an idea about wealthy life in rural Turkey, 100 years ago.
Tokat Museum: Located in the gorgeous Arastalı Bedesteni - a covered market - the museum has a fantastic collection of Bronze Age and Hittite artifacts as well as ceramics from the Phrygians, Hellenic jewelry, Roman tombs, and the icons and relics that were saved from the town’s historic churches.
Sulusokak Street: A walk down the street lined with hans, mausoleums, bazaars and baths, provides an excellent overview of Tokat's architecture. With the dilapidated historic buildings to steer your path, walk past the historic Ali Paşa Camii, which dates back to 1572, check out the the 17th-century Ottoman Sulu Han (Sulu Caravanserai) composed of brick and wood with a turquoise and white interior. you’ll find Tokat’s most beautiful Yağıbasan Madrasah from 1152 and the deeply impressive Deveciler Han, a giant Ottoman caravanserai. To witness a 300-year-old tradition, visit the Gazi Emir (Yazmacilar) Han for examples of the block-printect cloth.
Mevlevihane: A restored dervish lodge built in 1613 with plenty of exhibitions that tell the story of the dervish. You can find illustrated Korans and prayer carpets from historic mosques from all over the region as well as dervish paraphernalia.
Niksar was once the capital of the Turkish Danismend Emirs, and among the interesting sights are the well-preserved citadel, the Ulu Mosque and Roma Arsenal.
Tokat Citadel: To get a panoramic view of the lovely city of Tokat, climb up to the citadel of 28 towers! The castle used to host also a ‘madrasa’ and now serves more like a small museum.
Ulu Cami: One of Tokat’s most beautiful mosques is hidden amongst the historic Ottoman houses at the foot of the castle hill.
Roma Arsenal: The ancient ruins supposedly used to be the military center during the Roman Empire. A small part of the ruins can be visited. Gateways inside leading to unknown passages and military graveyard are quite interesting!
Ballica Cave: This is one of the largest underground caves in Turkey. The cave is believed to be millions of years old when it was formed due to rock formations in the ground. Only a small portion of the cave is open to the public, the rest of it is left to the bats who generate air ventilation. It's very popular among people with asthma and other respiratory disorders!
Lake Almus: The artificial lake situated between lush green can be reached after a ninety minutes’ drive from the city center.
Tokat is home to over 900 historical landmarks that await to be explored including also the Hittite remains in Maşat village, the Roman settlement of Sebastapolis.
Tokat’s cuisine is definitely worth exploring. Tokat kebab, the city's trademark dish, consists of grilled sliced mutton with aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes and chilies cooked in exclusively designed kebab ovens at traditional Tokat homes.
Set on an alluvial plain on a branch of the Kizilirmak River, Çorum is famous for its remarkable Phyrgian and Hittite archaeological sites, thermal springs and chickpeas.
Çorum was the home for the human settlements of the Neolithic, Paleolithi, Chalcolithic periods from 300.000 to 70.000 BC. It was first captured by the remarkable civilization Hittites between 1650-1200 BC. The kingdom stretched from the Aegean across Anatolia, northern Syria and to the Euphrates river. Region was then ruled by civilizations like Phrygians, Medes, Persians, Macedonians, Galatians, Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman Empires.
In a nutshell, the places in the city center are Çorum Castle, Ulu Mosque constructed by the order of Hayreddin Nazır, who is emancipated slave of Alaeddin Keykubat, 1561 dated Hamid Mosque, 1579 dated Gülabibey Mosque, 1436 dated Old Bath, 1573 dated Ali Pasha Bath, 1494 dated Taceddin Pasha Bath and 1895 dated Clock Tower.
Hattusha/Bogazkale: Hattusha, the capital city of Hittites, is in UNESCO's "World Cultural Heritage List" since 1986. Discovered by the French architect Charles Texier in 1834, Hattusha is a wonderful Turkish tale of endurance, mystery and deeply layered history. As excavation continues, more and more is being uncovered about this ancient city. It was heavily fortified, with a double 8 km wall, over 100 towers and 5 gateways including 3 richly decorated: the Lions Gate, the Kings Gate and the Sphinx Gate.
Hattusha is the capital city of Hittites, establishing the first state in Anatolia between B.C. 1650-B.C. 1200 years, and using the script for the first time as the state, and remains of Hattusha excavations are started in 1906. Important remains include settlement place, remaining from Karum Hattus period, dated as B.C. 19th-18th Century and Temple of Celestial God and Arinna Sun Goddess, Hittite Castle, dated as B.C. 13th Century in Nişan Hill out of Büyükkale, Yenice Castle ad also Sarı Castle.
Bogazkoy Museum: Built in 1966, Bogazkoy Museum exhibits archaeolocial and ethnographic works. Imagine all the documents, tablets, monuments, armament, pottery, coins, ornaments, statues, from each of those civilizations! It's indispensable. The Hittite period bull-headed vase must have been used during rituals and religious ceremonies that took place during feasts. One of the Hittite Period Boğazköy Sphinx was returned from the Berlin Museum joining its pair that was exhibited in Archaeological Museum before.
Yazılıkaya Temple: Yazılıkaya, belonging to B.C. 13th Century, is a Hittite pantheon in 2km northern-east of Hattusas. Hidden in the high rocks, Yazilikiyat is an open-air temple with two natural chambers cut into the bedrock, the walls of which are covered with the richest and most striking samples of Hittite relief art, featuring more than 90 gods and goddesses and the figures of the Great King Tudhaliya IV.
Alacahöyük: Detected only in the excavations in 1935, the city was the cult and art center of four different eras: Calcholitic Age : 4000-3000 BC, Old Bronze Age : 3000-2000 BC, Hittite Period : 1800-1200 BC, and Phrygian Period : from 750 BC. Temples, large buildings, private-block houses, streets, large and small water canals, city walls, and tunnel monumental gates from the Hittite Empire period, and princes' graves with their possessions, golden and silver containers, weapons, gold and silver jewelery, and animal sculptures made of bronze and clay from 4th century B.C. are only some of the fascinating things that one can see in Alacahoyuk.
In the Alacahöyük Museum, works from the Chalcolithic, Old Bronze, Hittite and Phrygian periods are exhibited. The most important pieces in the museum are the finds of 13 kings of the Early Bronze Age. Plaster copies of sphinxes, protecting the city gate dated back to Hittite Empire period (B.X. 1460-1200), stand in the site since the originals are being exhibited in The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.
Ortakoy (Sapinuva): Another complex from Hitite era, Sapinuva, is 3km away from Alaca. The city was an important military and religious center in Hittite period. Excavations have revealed a madrasa, cemetery, and a guest house. Based on the documents found, it is known that the royal family of Taduhepa lived here.
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