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Denizli: Turkey's Textile and Apparel Center

The following article was published in March 2002 issue of The Turkish Time.

Denizli, which has been known for its touristic sites (mainly Pamukkale) has of late become a textile and apparel centre. The main industries of Denizli, which account for billions of dollars' worth of exports annually, include chemistry, metals and stones.

Although when the city's name is mentioned, people are reminded of the late famous bard Özay Gönlüm, reknown for his compassionate letter sent to his grandmother; there are three elements more prevalent in terms of historical depth: Pamukkale, cocks and a special kind of material called Buldanbezi. Since the 1990s, the title "Anatolian Tiger" is added to this trivet, thanks to the city's billion dollars' worth of exports. However, the really curious issue is: How is it possible for a settlement hundreds of kilometers away from the sea and 428 meters above sea level, on the top of a mountain facing a fertile plain, to be called Denizli (With the Sea)?

Denizli is on the southwest of the Anatolian peninsula and south of the Aegean Sea. It serves as a pass between the Aegean, the Inner Anatolia and the Mediterranean regions.

Neighbouring it are the cities of Burdur, Isparta, Afyon, Aydın, Manisa, Muğla and Uşak. It's built on an area of 11,868 square kilometers. Besides it's center, it has 18 districts, the most populated of them being Acıpayam, Tavas, Çivril, Çal, Sarayköy and Buldan. According to the census 2000, the population of Denizli is 816,250; with more than half of its population living in rural areas.

It has been pointed out that the literacy percentage of Denizli is high above that of Turkey in general. During the 1999-2000 period, 114,352 students were educated in a total of 347 primary schools. Add to this figure those attending high schools, and the number adds up to 140,000. Besides the formal education in schools, the youth of Denizli can attend special courses on various fields; including clothing, texture, painting, handicrafts, mechanized embroidery, tricot, accounting, computers, stoker, hairdressing, carpentry, blanket making, shoe-making and ceramics.

In 3 July 1992, the University of Pamukkale (www.pamukkale.edu.tr.) was opened in the city. Holding only 9 departments initially, it now holds 99, including the high schools and the institutes, providing education on a variety of subjects including medicine, engineering, education, science and literature. Of those 99 departments, 13 offers pre-graduate, 45 offers graduate and 41 offers post-graduate education.

In ancient times, Denizli was known as Laodikea. Antiochos II, king of the Selevkis, had the city built in the name of his wife Laodike. The city's name was changed when, after the battle of Malazgirt in 1071, hordes of Turkoman tribes settled in Anatolia. It was called Donguzlu, or Tunguzlu then. Some claim this was later transformed into the phonetically resembling Denizli. According to another version, the name originated from the various rich water resources in the region...

The sovereignty of Denizli changed hands between the Byzantines and the Seljuks various times, until it was taken over by the Ottomans. Yildirim Bayezid took the region from the Germiyanoğullari for good in 1391.

Denizli's major source of income is textiles, which it imports worldwide. The famous traveler Ibn Batuta, after visiting the city in 1332, described it as "having seven mosques, a market, vineyards and gardens, and never running out of water." As to the business life in the city, he said, "the cotton cultivated here is of the finest quality and excellent fabrics are made here, with gold or silver embroidery."

Buldanbezi, one of the symbols of Denizli, also reflects a tradition that dates back to those times. The manufacture of various colored cotton and silk fabrics, furnished with silver embroidery and various ornaments peculiar to the region, is still a major source of income for the people. Today, Buldan boasts 3,000 power driven looms, 30 hand driven looms and 1,250 embroidery machines... The high quality textile products manufactured in Buldan are sold in the many wholesale and retail shops in Denizli, as well as the textile markets in big cities.

Cocks are another major part of Denizli's characteristics. The common Denizli cock weighs about 3-3.5 kgs when alive. There are various kinds of Denizli cocks, distinguished by their colors, body shapes, comb shapes and their crowing. There are six different types of Denizli crows colorwise: iron gray, cotton gray, white, red, black and fur. There are also three types distinguished by their physical shapes: Long-necked, pheasant and earring. Denizli cocks are also distinguished by the shape of their combs, characterized as wide-combed and narrow-combed. However, the most prominent distinction is made according to the various positions they adopt as they crow, which lasts about 25 seconds: the lion crow, the wolf crow, the courageous crow, and the mist crow. The people of Denizli are aware of these riches they hold. A special department of the City Directorate of Agriculture breeds Denizli cocks.


However, Denizli's most famous feature, which is perhaps more famous than any other in Turkey, is Pamukkale (Castle of Cotton); so called because of its snow-white travertine. Known to tourists as Hierapolis and called the Holy City in archeological studies because of the many temples and religious buildings in the city; Pamukkale is 18 kilometers north of Denizli. What gives Pamukkale its snow-whiteness is the high calcium carbonate level in its hot thermal water, the heat of which can reach 100 degrees C at times. After the hot water comes out of its spring, it travels about 300 meters, leaving its sediment behind. The sediment remains in a jelly-like state for a while in the current. Any outside intervention to the sediment when it is in this state affects the natural formation process of the travertine. There was a period when, because of various establishments built very close to the spring and the use of the hot water for various purposes, Pamukkale came to the brink of being lost. However, subsequent measures and the shutting down of these establishments put an end to the danger.

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