Istanbul to the Iranian border
- We flew into Istanbul on 22nd of March and after just one day headed east, to collect our Iranian visas in a dreary place called Erzurum and then to enter Iran. We had allowed three weeks for this part (it's almost 2000km from Istanbul to the Iranian border), but the weather was cold and rainy, generally nasty. So we did it in just two weeks. That's the main reason that there are not too many photos. This one shows the outside porch of the Beyazit Pasha Camii, the biggest mosque in Amasya.
- Once again Amasya, a nice river town about half way between Istanbul and Iran. The geographer and historian Strabo was born here but Amasya is nowadays more famous for its Pontic tombs (3rd century BC), hewn out of the rock wall towering to the north of the river (you might just be able to make them out in the photo, above the Beyazit Pasha Camii, with its distinctive two minarets). It was from this spot that we watched the total eclipse of 29th March, how the town and the surroundings faded away under that immense dark cloud that raced across the earth. It was one of those sights that give you the goosepimples.
- The following photo was taken in Sivas, about 200km east of Amasya. The weather looks not too bad, but I can tell you, half an hour later it was pouring. Nevertheless, Sivas sports many beautiful remains, especially of its long and glorious Selcuk past. This is the stunning facade of the Cifte Minare Medrese, an old and mostly ruined Islamic school, dating from the 13th century. Note the pale blue tiles on the two brick towers.
- More Selcuk stone work. This comes from the entrance to the Yakutiye Medrese, in Erzurum, a city almost 2000m above sea level. It was a cold and miserable day, even began to snow later on. Alas, we had to go there for our Iranian visas: the lovely day we spent in the Iranian consulate is one of the highlights of this trip. They did have central heating, though.
- The remaining three pictures were taken near Dogubeyazit (also dubbed “Doggie Biscuit” by some less-than-respectful travellers), almost on the Iranian border. The rightly famous Ishak Pasha palace (17th century) hides in the mountains to the east, literally in the middle of nowhere: it's a fairy-tale sort of place.
- That's the entrance to a tomb (what the Turks call a Türbe): Ishak Pasha, the builder of the pile, and his favourite wife are buried down there.
- An inscription on the wall of the dining-room. The stonework, not only here, but throughout the whole site, is of the highest quality. The palace is surely one of the highlights of Turkey, but it's a bloody long journey to get there.
- Conspicuously absent from our photo collection is 5165m high Mount Ararat which stands around the corner from the Ishak Pasha palace. The clouds made a mockery of any attempt to take a picture, though we saw the summit of the shy giant once or twice. Well, next time, perhaps.
- Next stop: Iran 1 with Tabriz, Tehran and Kashan
$updated from: Turkey 1.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:14:23 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$