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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

A Day in Anavarza

We’re off on a day’s adventure to Anavarza, the ancient city of Anazarbus. We leave with our small tour group at 8:30 am and ride for about 40 minutes (east toward Ceyhan) and then north (to our destination) across the Cilicia Plain east of Adana. This is a very easy one day adventure for a group or family outing. Take a picnic lunch and plan your visit to both the upper castle (a considerable climb) and the lower plain strewn with Roman ruins. There’s a vast array of ruins in the fields below the mountain that hosts the Sis Castle far above. There’s a Roman Aqueduct (built in Emperor Vespasian’s time, 70 BC), 1,500 meters of outer walls from the ancient city, a church, a bath house, a stadium and several other building remains to be viewed across the fields around the village.

The ride seems rather swift and we’re here before we know it; the bus stops outside the west gate and we’re shown a most interesting phenomenon, a faucet protruding from a tree trunk. This is obviously plumbing that has been overgrown by this tree some years ago, but it’s very interesting to see. We walk a short way down the road from the tree and we’re allowed a few minutes at the west gate to take some photos. This gate has a single massive arch and is part of the outer wall of the ancient city. After we get several photos we re-board the bus and drive through the tiny village of Dilekkaya to the foot of the mountain where we can climb to the Sis Castle fortress.

The Romans conquered Cilicia in 19 BC, at that time this city was named Caesarea. The city became quite prominent in the 3rd century AD; before that, it was over shadowed by Tarsus, the capital of the Cilician State. In the 5th century Anazarbus became the capital city of the eastern expanse of Cilicia. During the 6th century the city was named for Emperor Justin (first called Justin then Justiniopolis). There were also two major earthquakes during this time, one in 525 and the other in 561 that devastated the lower city and rattled the fortress high above. From the years of these devastating earthquakes until the 8th century, this city was wrestled back and forth between the Arabs and the Byzantines. In the late 8th century the Arabs were finally victorious and re-built the lower city. In the mid-ninth century the Arab Caliph Mutacvakil further fortified and re-built the Sis Castle. Once more in the 10th century the Byzantines gained control of the city, but their control was short lived. In the 11th century the Armenians took control of the city and made it the capital of little Armenia. There were still struggles with the Byzantines, but the Armenians kept control through the late 12th century when the Memelükes destroyed the city and it never again gained prominence, it simply faded into history. (This little synopsis is paraphrased from “A Travel Guide to the Historic Treasures of Turkey” dated 1977 and written by Dr. Cemil Tuksoz).

There is one other truly noteworthy item I came upon in my research; a rather significant physician was born here. His name:  Doiscorides of Anazarbus who was trained in Hippocratic ways of Hellenistic physicians and traveled extensively on Asia Minor’s Mediterranean coast practicing medicine. This is noteworthy, at least in my view, because he wrote 4,740 medicaments (nearly half) of the 10,000 that populate the modern Physician’s Desk Reference, the primary guide to drugs used today in most doctor offices!

Carol and I remain at the foot of the mountain and stroll first through the mountain pass just above where the bus is parked. Moslems of the region have a legend about this pass. It was created by the son-in-law of Prophet Hz Ali who was being pursued in battle and he placed his sword on a rock and the mountain opened for him and his horse to make their escape. The walls of this pass are at least 150 feet above the road surface.  Half way through the pass, high on the face of the south wall, is a carved circle with a cross in it and a Greek inscription below it. Sorry, I can find no translation of the inscription. After walking through the pass we return to the bus and then walk through the ruins around the bus parking area. There are several tombs/sarcophagi chiseled into the foot hills here near the bus. Carol and I both admire the group as they challenge the mountain; we can see they’ve made the trek more than 90% of the way to the castle now. Most of these trekkers are half our age or younger so we can admire them from here but certainly will not follow in their footsteps. We notice as we concentrate our view on the path our group has taken that there are actually staircases carved into the rock of the mountain trail in several places up to the castle entry. How fine these stairs are is for you to discover.

It’s nearly 11:00 and I decide lunch is in order; Carol and I go back to the bus, get our canvas folding chairs and settle down with our picnic lunch. While enjoying our sandwiches, a local villager, Ali comes by with Musa (our driver) and brings freshly prepared bazlama bread HOT off the grill. It’s difficult to describe this wonderful surprise but let me attempt it; this bread is extremely thin and is grilled on a flat piece of iron over a camp fire. It’s grilled for just a moment or two and when hot is nothing short of awesome! Carol has brought along some large chunks of Swiss cheese and we offer a piece to both Musa and Ali; they place the pieces in their bazlama same as I do and we enjoy the meal very much. After we share the bread and cheese I offer them both an apple which they also take. I offer the knife to cut the apple but before I know it Ali has twisted the apple in two pieces, very evenly I might add. What a wonderful way to spend the day; simply sitting under a tree in the morning air sharing conversation, local culture and a meal. Ali had been around earlier in the day talking with our driver and welcoming our group to the site. After sharing lunch with him he leaves and goes down to the first house below our picnic. I hear him, Musa and Walter (another of our fellow travelers) talking and decide to go down the road and see what’s happening.

Oh, this is great; three ladies are making the bazlama right here. They’re sitting on the ground around a couple very low (table) platforms. One lady is kneading the dough and she’s passing it to another lady who is rolling it out with a very smooth rolling pin that resembles a cue stick. It’s rolled so thin it translucent, you can nearly see through it. She picks up her work, draped over her stick; it has gone from the size of a flattened softball to maybe 2 feet around. She now places it on a stack of those she has already created. Another lady is removing one from the stack now and placing it on the piping hot grill; she rolls it over the hot steel and then waits a moment – maybe two and then turns it over. In minutes we have another piping hot piece of fantastic bazlama folded and placed aside for later; yes, folded into a square about the size of a paperback book. This is wonderful but I need to get back to the bus and get Carol so we can wander around more ruins.

Back at the bus now, Carol is crocheting and enjoying this beautiful day. I suggest we should visit the arch we saw as we rode through the village. She puts away her crocheting and we put away the chairs. Walter joins us and we all walk down into the village center to see the grand arch of the south entrance to the ancient city. As we near the arch, a village dog is chasing a calf across the park next to us.  He’s not happy with the cow being where it is for some reason, we don’t know. It turns into quite a chase because the park is walled and as the calf reaches the far side I wonder how he’ll escape; no sweat - he leapt the wall with ease.

The main three-span arch of the south gate is deteriorating and has recently been reinforced with a steel super-structure. This is unfortunate but after 2.000 years hardly surprising. I’m always in awe of the ruins we find all around us in Turkey; it’s often hard to imagine how anything could stand for so long without total destruction. I’m amazed this stands at all. This area continues to be struck by mild earthquakes and back in 1945 it was hit especially hard, causing further destruction of what ruins remained from the 6th century earthquakes. Modern day pollution and the continuing weather take their toll as well; a major storm system a couple years ago caused the damage to the grand arch making the steel support frame necessary. At the foot of this imposing gateway strewn about the grounds are friezes, cornice blocks, column bodies, Greek stone inscriptions and Corinthian column capitals which were used in this illustrious edifice. All of these ruins give us an excellent idea of the remarkable stateliness of Anazarbus as an ancient city of note.

We linger around these ruins for a good while and get a number of impressive photos as Walter speaks with a gentleman who has come to talk with us. We can imagine from the multitude of column remains stretched out before us that there must have a been a grand colonnade directly from this south gate into the city. There are some standing upright, other tilted to one side and many fallen along our path. The gentleman points out a structure that once stood majestically behind his current home; there are a dozen upright columns down one side and fallen one on the other. He tells us, “it may have been a church,” as he points further off in the distance and indicates there is an actual church ruin out there. We decide it’s too far and too muddy to walk and we vow to return on our own at a later date.

We notice our group is descending the mountain headed back our way, so we stroll back to the bus. When we reach the bus not all of our group has made it back but we don’t wait long before the rest appear. We load up the bus and decide to make one more short visit before leaving the village, the outdoor museum. We find a courtyard full of artifacts and a large rectangular crater containing a Roman mosaics depicting the sea goddess ‘Thetas’, believed to be 3rd century AD in origin. While we’re viewing and photographing the mosaic the sky begins to share its moisture; we’re showered with a gentle rain. We’re also told of another mosaic off in the field behind this courtyard. We’re told the gentleman who owns the property was digging to build his home and discovered these wonderful pieces of antiquity. We defy the rain and walk out to view the second mosaic; this one is far larger and offers a view of numerous fish designs. These are both well worth a look, yes, even though it’s raining.

Well, that concludes our visit; we board the bus and head home. Once more, as is the case normally, we see some incredible ancient ruins and they’re simply minutes from our home. This is a site we should not have overlooked in the past and we WILL return to see the remainder that were not possible today.




Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

Focus On
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Fred's Trip Logs
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