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A Hub Where All Roads Meet

Afyonkarahisar, more often known as Afyon for short, has been home to many civilizations, lying as it does at a strategic geographical junction at the center of western Turkey. Whether traveling from east to west or north to south, you are almost sure to pass through this city by road or rail. With a history that can be traced back to 3000 BC, Afyon was ruled by the Hittites, Phrygians, Hellenes, Romans, and Byzantines until its conquest by the Turks in 1200. With such a rich historical heritage, visitors to the city should start at the museum, which has an outstanding collection of Hittite, Phrygian, Roman, and Byzantine works of art.

Upon leaving the museum, it is time to explore the streets, which offer exciting sights at every turn, such as a pile of kepeneks, the colorful woolen capes worn by shepherds, which also serve as beds or tablecloths when necessary. If you are curious to see how they are made, all you have to do is enter the workshop with a greeting.

The old quarter of the town known as Kalealti has many well-preserved examples of old Turkish houses painted in diverse colors and with doors and windows, lovely examples of traditional woodwork.

After lunch, you can climb up to Afyon Castle, perched high on the craggy hill of dark rock that towers over the city. The castle stands on the brink of an ancient volcanic crater, and the view from here is spectacular. You can still see traces of Hittite carving on the castle's walls, which was used as a stronghold by the Hittite king Murshil II during his Arzava campaign around 1350 BC.

After descending the steep path from the castle, make your way to the city center, where it seems that every other shop is selling either the famous garlic sausage of Afyon or Turkish delight with the equally renowned clotted cream and other sweetmeats. When I asked what was special about this cream, they explained that it was made from water buffalo milk.

Next to the Ottoman bazaar is the Seljuk period Ulu Mosque built in 1272, Imaret Mosque with its elegant fluted minaret built by Gedik Ahmet Pasa in 1472.

Afyon played a crucial role in the Turkish War of Independence (1919-1923), a part made more critical by its vital position as a crossroads. From the hill of Kocatepe near the city, Ataturk launched his Great Offensive on 26 August 1922 and observed the first stages of the battle. The well-known photograph of Ataturk walking along bowed in thought was taken on this hill, and today a statue of Ataturk marks the spot. In addition, trenches left from this battle can still be seen. When I returned to my hotel in the evening, I went to the Turkish bath supplied by a thermal spring. There are numerous thermal springs in Afyon, presumably a relic of the area's volcanic past. The next day I visited the town of Ihsaniye, 35 kilometers north of Afyon, and was amazed to see rock cones and pillars just like those of Cappadocia.

Early Christian communities fleeing Roman persecution took refuge here, as they did in Cappadocia far to the east, carving out homes in the soft volcanic rock. The rock tombs and church of Ayazini are the most important sights. The following day I visited the Goynus Valley, popularly known as the Phrygian Valley. The Phrygians began to expand their territories in Anatolia from 1200 BC onwards. Their kingdom, Gordion west of Ankara, covered the mountainous and forested region between Afyon, Kutahya, and Eskisehir. In the Goynus Valley are rock tombs and open-air temples.

Planning a trip to Turkey soon? Check this website for https://madeinturkeytours.com/turkey/ offering private tours for all type of interests and age groups.

-- Anuj G - 2021-11-09


Topic revision: r1 - 2021-11-09 - AyodhyaRanjhana
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