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Write: Saffet Emre Tonguç Photos: Merih Akoğul, Ahmet Bilal Arslan
Neighbors And Friends
Neighbors And Friends
Easily accessible thanks to Zafer airport, these two neighboring cities have played host to many civilizations from the ancients to the Ottomans. Now Uşak and Afyon are a center of attraction for their cuisine and spa tourism.
The people of Afyon are proud of being spread over three of Turkey’s seven geographical regions. “We are at the junction of Anatolia,” they say, a claim whose truth they stake on their city’s having been the scene of the great battles fought for control of Anatolia: the famous Battle of Ipsus waged between Alexander’s generals after his death, the Battle of the Kings, one of antiquity’s bloodiest, the Battle of Myriokephalon, which gave the Seljuks the military-political initiative in Anatolia, and the Great Offensive that heralded the Turkish victory in the War of Liberation following the First World War.
The most important Mevlevi dervish lodge after that of Konya is also at Afyon. Sultan Abdulmejid had the Mevlevi Tomb Mosque here built in the mid-19th century, and Abdulhamid II had it restored in 1905. The grandsons of Mevlana lie in mausoleum section of the Single-minared Mosque.
One of Afyon’s most important monuments, the Karahisar Castle was erected on a site that dominates the environs almost completely and was practically impossible to capture. Erected by the Hittites in 1350 B.C.E. as a winter quarters for soldiers setting out on campaign, it has since then served all the tribes - Phrygians, Persians, Romans and Byzantines - who settled here, undergoing expansion and additions in different periods. The castle was named Karahisar by Seljuks, who settled in the city after the Battle of Manzikert.
Karahisar has more than one legend. Rumor has it that Battal Gazi died fighting in front of the castle but that the Byzantines, who were not convinced he had died, continued to live in fear of him for many years.
If you find it difficult to choose gifts, Afyon offers a splendid variety. Keep the clotted cream, sujuk sausage and Turkish delight in mind, but also don’t forget the silk carpets, kilims, and copper and marble souvenirs.
Restored Afyon mansions with cantilevered ‘cumba’ balconies (below left). Afyon-style stews at a local workingmen’s restaurant (below right)
Facing page, clockwise from top left: Afyon Archaeological Museum, Detail of a house in Tacı Ahmet quarter, Afyonkarahisar Great Mosque, Afyon lokoum with Antep pistachios
Facing page, clockwise from top left:
Dülgeroğlu Mansion in Uşak, restored for tourism.
A ruin from the ancient city of Kaundos
The Uşak carpet, a school in the art of the Turkish carpet
‘Keşkek’ served Uşak-style with pepper sauce or meaton the bone
Below: View of Uşak Ulu Mosque
Lying on the Royal Way that connects Anatolia to the Middle East, Uşak boasts a history going back four centuries. It was ruled by the Lydians in the period when the Phrygians ruled its neighbor, Afyon.
Flaviopolis, Hieroxharax and Dioklea are the major ruins of Uşak. Cılandıras Bridge, over the Banaz River along the Royal Way, was built by the Lydians 2,500 years ago. Governed later by the Persians, the city did not escape the attention of Alexander the Great. After the Romans and the Byzantines, the Turks entered the history of Uşak in 1076. İnay Caravanserai in the town of Ulubey is thought to date to the Seljuk era. The Great Mosque dates to the period of the Germiyanids. Outstanding among the Ottoman monuments are a khan (medieval inn) built by Tiritoğlu Mehmet Pasha at the end of the 19th century and a two-story bedesten (market), known today as Sarraflar Çarşısı, built in the early 20th century.
Like Afyon, Uşak has more than reaped the benefits of the region’s therapeutic waters, whose temperatures can reach as high as 60° C. Ruins of baths dating back to the Romans are proof that these waters have served human needs for a very long time. Following a thorough analysis, the waters have been found to be beneficial for diseases of the liver and stomach as well as for rheumatism and other aches and pains.
Keşkek (a mutton and ground wheat dish) and tarhana (homemade dried soup) leap immediately to the minds of gourmets at any mention of Uşşak, the city’s former name meaning land of lovers. Add bulghur with liver and Arab stew to your list as well. And cap it all with a choice of tahin halvah or höşmerim semolina pudding with cheese for dessert.
A source of pride among Turkish handicrafts, the famous Uşak carpets are on display in museums around the world including the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Apart from these 16th century, primarily pastel carpets, Eşme kilims and Uşak blankets are also among the city’s authentic products.
AFYON UŞAK GUIDE
WATER BORNE HEALTH
There are several thermal springs in Afyon certified to be beneficial to the health. The spas in the city’s five-star hotels are also popular with Turkish and foreign tourists alike. Gazlıgöl Thermal Springs, whose drinking water is said to be beneficial for disorders of the stomach, intestines and liver, and bathing waters good for rheumatism and dermatological conditions, is just 20 kilometers from the city. There is a mud bath as well at Hüdai Thermal Springs, which also boasts a bath dating back to the Byzantine period.
Check out the districts of Aybey and Karaağaç for the two and three story Uşak houses, which are example of Ottoman domestic architecture.
Treasure of Karun
A collection of Lydian artifacts is on display at Uşak Archaological Museum. Close to 35,000 artifacts can be seen at this museum, which chronicles 5,000 years of glorious history.
Afyon cuisine is known for its meat, legumes and desserts. Be sure to try Ramazan kebab, poppy seed bulghur, eggplant beurek, lentil ‘bükme’ and tart okra.
A large part of the Phrygian Valley lies in Afyon province. Ayazini, the Lion Stone, ‘Direkli’ Castle, Great Gate Rock and Döger Caravanserai are all worth seeing.
A school of carpet making since the 16th century, the world-famous Uşak (Oushak) rugs fall into two main groups: those with a central medallion, which can be as long as 10 meters, and those with a star motif, which came into being in the mid-18th century.