Connecting the most beautiful coasts of Anatolia with oxygen rich highlands and mysterious ancient cities, thematic culture routes offer a variety of holiday options including natural beauties, historical wonders, gourmet experiences and shopping.
1. THE LYCIAN WAY
Turkey’s first long distance footpath with international standards, the Lycian Way is 509 kilometers in length. Waymarked by British traveler and historian Kate Clow in 1999 the route looks like an enchanting maze of pathways leading to the backyard of Antalya. The route draws a bow along the coast line of Teke Peninsula, connecting 23 ancient Lycian settlements which were historically known as the land of the sun. The route is made up of Fethiye, Patara, Ka? (Antiphellos), Demre (Myra), Finike and Olimpos courses with one end close to Dalaman and the other to Antalya Airports.
One of the many starting points of the route, Ölüdeniz (Dead Sea) offers the easiest walk while Bezigan course is the most challenging and exciting one stretching from Kalkan to the highlands of Taurus Mountains. The ridgeway follows Bezirgan – Akçay course and ends around Elmal? and takes days of walk among woody hills covered with clouds. The Lykian Way can be completed on foot in approximately one month with accommodation options varying from tent parks to village boarding houses and boutique hotels.
The Gelidonya Lighthouse
Located 60 kilometers south of Antalya, Adrasan (Çavu?köy) is well known with its magnificent beaches. The pathway stretching to the southern peninsula leads to Gelidonya Lighthouse. The 227 meters high lighthouse offers an impressive panorama.
2. THE ST. PAUL TRAIL
The route is the second project of Kate Clow who also waymarked the Lycian Way. It is called St. Paul Trail for better publicity abroad as it follows the course of St. Paul’s first journey to Anatolia. The mountainous parts of the route are used by nomads and goat herds. The 410 kilometers long route starts at two different points, both in Antalya, and reaches as far as Yalvaç, Ispatra, via Lake E?irdir. The first starting point is the ancient aqueducts just behind Aspendos Theater. The route passes through the depths of Köprülü Canyon National Park. Surrounded by sandalwood trees the ancient path first leads to Karabük and then Be?konak. A little ahead of the Köprüçay rafting center, Oluklu Bridge stretches over the river, connecting Selge to Pamphylia. The second starting point of the route is the ancient city of Perga and its unforgettable gate with two towers. With its rich flora, Kur?unlu Waterfalls Natural Park is a natural botanical garden. Accompanied by waterfalls and the remains of ancient settlements, the path leads to the skirts of Taurus Mountains.
After leaving Sipahiler, St. Paul’s Trail follows the path to the north of Lake Kovada National Park and comes to Kasnak Oak Natural Reserve nearby Yukar? Gökdere village. These giant trees that can reach 25-30 meters high and more than 1.5 meters in diameter are endemic species and grow only in Anatolia.
3. KIZILIRMAK GASTRONOMY TRAIL
One of the newest walking routes of Anatolia is the Çorum based K?z?l?rmak Gastronomy Trail. Combining natural and historical riches of the region with a deeply rooted culinary tradition, the 190 kilometers route is made up of 25 different courses. Marked by red and white stripes and yellow road signs just as other thematic culture routes in Anatolia, the Gastronomy Trail encompasses ancient trade and nomad routes.
One of the most appealing aspects of the trail is the opportunity to taste authentic local dishes such as çi?dem a?? (a soup made with cracked wheat and crocus flowers), knotweed with pastrami, goosefoot (plant) with eggs, lentil y?rtma (a kind of stew), deep fried phylo pastries with nettle filling, morel mushrooms or “black sack” halva (dessert). The 11 kilometers course between Yalakyayla and Akp?nar Village is one of the most beautiful parts of the route. The path starts under shady pine trees and slowly ascends to Kanberin Springs. It passes through fruit orchards to Ahlatç?k Village. After a short break to drink some buttermilk at the village, the path leads to the skirts of scenic slopes overlooking Elmali Valley. The day continues with Çorum’s historical ?skilip town.
?skilip rice is one of the most favorite, special dishes of the region. Two sacks are filled with rice and meat separately and slow cooked in the same caldron for nearly 12 hours. Best served with vinegar tzatziki.
4. CARIAN TRAIL
Following the traces of ancient Hellenistic settlements in Anatolia, the route encompasses an impressive 800 kilometers, stretching between Ayd?n and Mu?la. The route is named after Carian civilization which dominated the region from Dalaman Stream to Büyük Menderes (Meander) River in late 2000s BC. Connecting the most beautiful beaches of Southern Aegean region with scenic villages, forests and mysterious pathways, the route is a center of attraction for countless visitors from around the world. Starting from the ancient city of Alinda near Karpuzlu township, the route leads to Lake Bafa which is a natural reserve for bird species. The lake is famous with its mysterious islands and the ancient city of Herakleia.
The 8.500 years old cave paintings known as the Dancers of Latmos on the other hand, are hiding at Be?parmak (Latmos) Mountains. The Peçin Castle to the south of Milas nests hundreds of structures built in 14th century. The route then follows the eastern shores of Gökova Bay, a favorite stop for Blue Voyagers, to connect two beautiful peninsulas: Datça Peninsula stretches all the way to Knidos whereas Bozburun ends with Loryma.
The last wild horses of Anatolia
You can see the last wild horses of Anatolia at Ta?l?ca village, the farthest settlement at the tip of Bozburun peninsula. Only a few hundred of these endemic species left and they come to the Obruk lake at the plains to the back of the village in early morning hours.
5. EVL?YA ÇELEB? WAY
To celebrate the 400th birthday of famous Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi, the first phase of his pilgrimage is transformed into a culture route on the occasion of UNESCO declaration of 2011as International Evliya Çelebi Year.
The Evliya Çelebi Way is in fact an equestrian route, aiming to further develop the equestrian heritage of the Ottoman Empire. Travelling on horseback the famous traveler started his pilgrimage from the southern shores of ?zmit Bay. The route follows his footsteps for approximately 200 kilometers and ends at the city of Kütahya where he was born. The route mimics the famous traveler’s winding course covering ?znik (Nicaea), ?negöl, Tav?anl?, Kütahya, Afyon, Sand?kl?, Banaz, Ovac?k, U?ak, Gediz and Simav. Connecting remote and secluded plains around villages and towns, the followers of the route find the opportunity to see stud-farms, horse races, jareed competitions and workshops where equestrian accessories are made. There is also a guide book written especially for those who want to walk the route: The Evliya Çelebi Way is the product of the joint efforts of Caroline Finkel, Donna Landry and Kate Clow.
The Ottoman heritage of the traditional art of tile making revives in ?znik. The workshops scattered along the old streets around St. Sophia are handcrafting and selling tiles and ceramics. Also there are similar shops and workshops at the courtyard of Suleiman Pasha Madrasah.