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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....

Kastabala in August

 Untitled Document

by Fred Moore - August 2007

Today, with several friends we head toward Osmaniye, to visit three sites: Kastabala Hierapolis, Karatepe Rugs and Karatepe Aslantas open-air museum. This will be a different adventure from those we normally take; we have two cars and five friends to show around. I'm riding with Greg, Candi and Susan; Carol will be traveling with Scott and Glenda. It simply was a beautiful day and we'd all planned to see new things. Each of us has seen these sites before to some degree but today we will see and hear things new about each one.

Once on the autobahn, we head east toward Osmaniye. After about 40 minutes we pull off the highway for a rest stop. This roadside stop is just outside of Osmaniye and a few minutes from our exit ramp. While we all take an opportunity to stretch a red car pulls into the lot which is near empty and parks so close to our car the man can almost not get out of his own car. He bangs the side of our car as he does extricate himself from his own; sometimes you have to wonder what goes through the mind of someone like this. He's kind enough to inspect our car (rubbing his fingers across it) but then goes about his business obviously satisfied he has done no harm.

After a short 15 minutes we get back onto the autobahn and continue to the Osmaniye exit. There is a heavy haze in the air so there is no clear view of the beautiful landscape toward the hills and mountains in this part of Turkey. We're just past the wheat harvest and many farmers are burning wheat stubble from their fields; this makes a beautiful landscape impossible to appreciate. As we near the exit for Osmaniye, we ease off the gas and glide down the ramp to pay our toll. Once past the tollbooth, I direct Greg to turn right, then shortly to turn right once more. Scott is following in his car as I provide leadership from the lead car.

We've come onto a two-lane road but it's paved and in good repair. It isn't far before we come into a village and then what appears to be a major waterworks area. The Ceyhan River flows through this region but also there are major man-made canal systems and this road seems to parallel a channel of the region's irrigation system. We come to a rise in the roadway, then a bridge that has plenty of hardware mounted to one side, mechanical locks for water diversion, we think. The channel today is full to near capacity and truly appears to be on the verge of cresting its banks. I speculate the water to be extremely cold; it is flowing with serious force as we look out across the surface.

Again we continue but not far along we encounter some brown signs; these always indicate something of historical significance. Today the sign directs our course to Kastabala-Hierapolis. It's about four miles ahead; we turn yet again onto another paved road along another irrigation channel and continue to drive.


We very much enjoy these adventures into the countryside, never knowing what to expect but never leaving disappointed by the time taken to adventure out. I especially like it when the roads are paved! The land we are passing through is all agricultural; it's fall so most of the crops have been harvested or are near harvest time. As we round a gentle curve we draw nearer to our first goal, we begin to see the castle looming far above some scattered ruins. We're looking at Kastabala Bodrum Castle. Here, just ahead, is the sign directing our turn toward the site itself.

The pathway is not paved (the weather has been dry though, so it's fine) and would be more accurately described as a two-wheel rocky tractor path to a farmer's field. It only a short drive, so we ease onto the unpaved surface then up and over a knoll in front of us to the parking area. At the entry to the site, there's a small cleared lot for parking; one might get six to eight cars in here. Also, to one side, is a wood shelter maybe ten feet square where the site attendant seems to be lodged. Opposite it is a marble fountain, with faucets, for fresh water.

We pull to a stop and park the car in the little shade available. The gentleman attendant says the entry fee is two liras per person. We give him the fee for three of us (since we've been here before some stay behind) and begin the trek up an unimproved narrow footpath strewn with loose rocks and debris; lined to each side with upright and toppled columns and other ruins. The incline is not steep but you are constantly ascending the hillside.

The colonnade is probably the length of a football field or two, it not easy to see the end from where we begin but as we look back from above it's not that long a climb. Our literature indicates the site was founded in the 1st century BC; the castle dates from the medieval age. Two thirds of the way up the pathway we find the ruins of a church. The site once boasted a magnificent column street, amphitheater, basilica, church, stadium and bath complex. At the top of the rise we're actually standing overlooking the Roman Period site; above us quite a bit higher on the jagged rock cliff stands the Bodrum Castle/Fort from the Middle Ages: 1300 - 1400. As we look away from the castle above across the valley below, we see the theater with seating for some 10 or 12 thousand people, maybe more, it's a small theater as compared to some we've visited. It's also fairly intact for something from the 1st century BC. Just beyond it and in the flat of the valley are some partial ruins of two structures, the stadium and the hamam. But the imagination must be engaged to view these structures. Around the entire site off to some distance there are remains of constructed tombs and tombs carved from the rock cliffs above us. I find it quite fascinating that the signs at the entry to the site were only placed there in 2001. Obviously this is one of those numerous archeology sites that just has gone unattended for a very long time. It's a site worth your time!


The literature, to which I refer, I've collected from the Internet, as the books I have do not discuss this ruin at all. We're given a leaflet at the entry point but it fails to fully enlighten us to what we're viewing as well. Those books that do mention it simply state its existence and move on with no discussion of it in any full way. That's a real pity because it's obvious this was a center of some renown at one time in the very distant past. This is a fate of many sites throughout Turkey; there simply are not enough resources on earth to excavate the multitude of sites across this great country. How sad!
Again referring to the literature, it is noted that in the fifth century AD this whole area was rich in olive oil and exports from here were considerable. However, today we see little evidence of that; from where we're standing, I see no olive trees at all. There is a great deal of agriculture in progress here though and the earth looks very rich.

We spend about thirty minutes wandering around these ruins and carefully make our way back down the trail to the car. We bid farewell to the attendant and turn the car toward Karatepe and our second goal of the day, the kilim cooperative.

We wend our way through some more beautiful countryside as we ascend the hills ever climbing toward Karatepe. We progress first turning this way then that way then back until we curve and climb into even more spectacular landscapes. We come to the brown sign for Karatepe but I tell Greg to pass it by we have a few miles yet before the right turn to the kilim village. Another ten minutes or so and there's the sign indicated our right turn; we descend onto a gravel road and curve and fall into the valley below. This is a road you hope you don't meet anyone coming at you on; it's passable but only in places and it's simply better to not meet anyone. We descend for ten or fifteen minutes and then out on the plateau we see the village just ahead. As Greg makes his final turn into the village the road narrows even more with fencing on both sides of the car. Look out there's a chicken, it's a hen; it's extremely thin but running like mad right down the left tire track just in front of us! We simply follow behind as there's no where to go, then as quickly as it came it's gone.


Immediately on the right is the kilim facility we've come to visit. We pull into the parking area and under the tiny bit of shade there for us. Before we can get out of our cars two young women have come out to greet us. We're taken first into the show room; this is a large open room with kilims hung all about the walls and draped over easels. There are bench seats around half the room all adorned with kilim works from the looms on the premises. We all take time to visually consume the pieces strewn about showroom. After a short period of investigation we all move to the building adjacent to the showroom - one I'll call the loom-room. In this building there are 12 or 14 looms set up and 8 or 10 girls weaving kilims as we watch.

The first loom to the left inside has two girls, one working from the front and one working from the back. Very interesting; I had not thought one could weave from both sides but it looks easy. These girls are using 100% wool to create these wonderful pieces; all the work is done on site from the dyeing of the wool to the weaving of each piece. Designs can be brought in and commissioned kilims can be produced as well. We are all taking special note of one loom where the young lady is weaving a kilim with Adana's Roman Bridge, Mosque and Ceyhan River in it; this is a beautiful kilim and we try to buy one. Not for sale we're told, too bad. It appeared that several were being made; I suspect they were probably for an Adana business or individual.

We spent about an hour at the cooperative; the ladies all bought a small sample of the kilims available and then we departed. It was nearing lunchtime so we decided to do lunch before we stopped at the Karatepe out door museum. I suggested we weren't far from Kadirli and should go to lunch there. We ascended the same road to get back where we'd come from; we met no one as we climbed either, thank you.


Once atop the mountain again we headed off for Kadirli. We drove across one razorback after another with serious drops on both sides of the car. The roadway seemed to be placed on the only flat surface available at this elevation. One curve brought us a panorama with a lake view the next spread out before us a vast agricultural vista. Cultivation of crops has to be a significant challenge on these hillsides. I can't imagine a tractor on many of them but it's obvious they use tractors up here; we see them everywhere. We travel for nearly forty minutes before the city comes into view. I know my companions were beginning to think I'm crazy talking about this city that never seemed to materialize.

We drive the full extent of the city and as we leave the city limits on the road to Kozan we come to our lokanta for lunch. This is a service station "Opet" where Carol and I have had a wonderful meal in the past. We all review the meat selections in the cooler (there's Adana kabob, chicken, lamb chops and shish kabob) and name our choices. We move a couple tables into place so all seven us can be seated together; we get drinks and salads while we await our main courses. The salads have come and everyone comments on their size. Greg and Glenda think these may be for sharing; no, they simply are individual serving. Along with the salad are three serving plates (to be shared) of onions, chopped tomatoes and a combo of hot peppers and pickles. We get through our salads and here come the main courses; again there are comments about portion size.


We spend at least an hour savoring this wonderful meal; great friends, great food and lively conversation make our day to this point very rewarding. We wrap up our leisurely lunch with tea and a rest stop. The proprietor bids a fond farewell and asks us to come back soon. We all get back into our cars and head back to the mountaintop at Karatepe-Aslantas. Our drive back up the mountain didn't seem as far or as long as that trip down to the lokanta.
We arrive at the final goal of the day and pull into the parking area. Immediately the ladies are captivated by the spoon carver. This gentleman must have several hundred carvings available for purchase. There is a multitude of spoons and then there are bowls and other adornments for one's table. Each of the ladies buys a number of different things and we tuck them away in the cars so we can walk the trails unencumbered.

We ascend the hillside to the museum building to pay the entry fee - 2 lira again. This site dates from the 8th century BC and was brought to the attention of archaeologist by shepherds who tended their sheep and goats through these mountains. There were stories of a lion stone in the mountains but the archaeological community was always skeptical until finally in 1946 a group decided to investigate the sightings. The stone was found and the site excavation began shortly afterward. In 1952 the site was considered completely free of further discoveries and the original excavator (Dr. Bossert) chose to abandon the site; his colleague (Dr. Cambel) chose to stay on, ultimately making Karatepe-Aslantas her life's work. She is fully responsible for the open-air museum we visited today; the first of its kind in Turkey.

Once we pay our fees we want to see the indoor museum but we are directed up the hill path; we protest we want to see the museum contents first. Fortunately we have Candi along and she makes our case for the indoor museum. We learn the 'usual' and the staff's preferred method is that you do the outside trail FIRST then you do the inside and finally wrap up the whole trek with the video presentation. We wanted to complete of visit 100% backward; video, indoor museum them outdoors. We only won a concession on the indoor museum so we did two, one and three instead of one, two and three!

This is NOT a visit to be done in August! This whole complex is well worth the visit but the height of summer is NOT the proper time. There is NO air conditioning in the museum facility except in the video room. The climb and the circular trail of the outdoors is demanding and it ascends and descends steeply. This is NO walk in the park if you pardon my pun! Our initial ascent is to the south gate where you can mount the wall and get a view of the entire mountaintop. The Ceyhan River has been dammed at this elevation and the reservoir created by the dam is very beautiful.


As we turn our backs on the river view we are staring directly into the south gate with its walls of pictographs and hieroglyphics. Another most important historical notation here has to do with language translation; thanks to a parallel Phrygian and Hittite hieroglyphic the Hittite was finally translated. This was the first real breakthrough to any translation of Hittite hieroglyphics. Some of the significant pictographs at the south gate are the galley, the hunting scene, a women suckling a baby and a life size statuary of the storm god Baal. There are plenty of individual scenes to review and all are fairly visible for rocks that are nearly 3000 years old!
Once we leave Baal standing alone, we begin our descent down the other side of the mountain. We're now headed for the north gate and a whole new set of stone panels. This could also be called, the sphinx gate, as there is one to either side of the entry here. This gate deserves another pause as you walk around looking at a completely different set of stone etchings. Two fierce lions flank the outer most walls at this gate just beyond the sphinx.

We leave the north gate now and descend further to the museum below. Once we get back to the museum we are directed into the video building and sit for a 30 or 40 minute presentation on the site we've just traversed. The video is partially narrated English and peppered with English subtitles elsewhere. The Adana Rotary Club on the 50th anniversary of site's first excavation created the video and a brochure to highlight the site. Karatepe-Aslantas is dedicated to Dr. Cambel, a bust of her likeness stands at the entry to the site. Dr. Cambel was also instrumental in the creation of schools and educational opportunities for children in the shadow of this amazing discovery. Her thoughts was simple; to preserve the historical significance of this area the population living near to and around it must know and understand their ancestors and their ancient life.

Once again, even though we've been to each of these three destinations before it's always great to join like adventurers for more discoveries. It's extremely difficult to venture out, even to those places one has already been and not stand in awe before the magnificence of these centuries old ruins. Scott and Greg both reminded me of my fantasy of standing in the mist of ancient Rome or Hittite civilization; stand silently among these ruins and hear the cacophony of commerce, social intercourse and nature all about you! This thought brings our day to a close, we head for the cars and for home.




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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