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by Meral Üstün

Nallıhan: Paradise of Birds and Needlework
Nallıhan, a district 160 km from Ankara, is a region well worth paying a visit. The history of Nallıhan is  similar to that of the surrounding cities: dating back thousands of years. The area has been ruled by the Hittites, Phrygians, Bithynians, Macedonians, and the empires of Persia, Rome and Byzantium throughout its history  until it was conquered by the Turks in the 1300s. Some residential areas of the district were submerged after the construction of Hasan Polatkan Dam, over which boat tours are organized.

The region, featuring a Mediterranean climate, is not only a fruit and vegetable growing area but also displays rich biological diversity. The breeding of Angora goats and the cultivation of silkworms are two of the county’s main sources of income.

The colorful geological formations and caves in Çayırhan area are among the places of most interest. In addition, the area called Kuş Cenneti (Bird Paradise) is home to 179 bird species. The natural beauty and amazing colors of the environment combine to create a paradise for photo enthusiasts.

The tomb of  famous Sufi Tapduk Emre is located in Emrem Sultan village of Nallıhan. World-famous folk poet Yunus Emre was a disciple of Tapduk Emre.

The Municipality building, which was constructed in 1890 and recently renovated, the Cultural Center, The Museum and Handicrafts Center, which nestles in a restored historical mansion, are the sightseeing attractions in the village center. Kocahan Caravanserai (inn), which Nallıhan was named after, was built in the 1500s.  It  spreads over 3,000 square meters with its 46 rooms and is one of the “hans” that have been kept alive.

Hoşbeşe forest recreation area, which is 4 km from Nallıhan, attracts attention due to its magnificent Juniper trees.  In addition, the surrounding villages offer beautiful scenery with their well-preserved old village style. A 500-year old and 10.5 meters high Kaba Ardıç Ağacı (Juniper Tree), located near Meyilhacılar village is worth paying a visit to.

Nallıhan offers many walking/trekking routes on plateaus, hills and around the dams, as well as providing an abundance of historical ruins and monumental trees.  An 8-hour hiking route begins at Çulhalar Village and continues on to Sarıçalı Mountain and Uyuz Falls; it ends at Karacasu Village where there is an authentic lodge, famous for serving local cuisine.

The 30-meter high waterfall and the caves on top are the points of attraction at Soğukkuyu village.

Two of the county's main sources of income are the breeding of Angora goats and the cultivation of silkworms. Sericulture is widespread at Soğukkuyu and the silk cloths colored with natural dyes are used in making “iğne oyası” (needlework).  “Oya” is an art of decorative edging usually made with doubly twisted silk thread and identifies not only the art work, but the hidden emotions of Anatolian women. The most common motif is a selection of flowers and the finest silk flowers made by needlepoint are to be found at Nallıhan.  They are also on sale in the Nallıhan Cooperative Shop at Ankara’s Samanpazarı.

With their unique appearance and construction technique, wooden water barrels are also among the handicrafts peculiar to Nallıhan. The barrels are made of pine and the most important feature is that  six parts are joined to the main body without using metal nails. The leak-proof bottom demonstrates a particularly fine talent of the artisan.

Nowadays, traditional Nallıhan multi-purpose colored textiles and kilims are being revitalized, woven on hand-operated looms by the women of the region.

Several restaurants serving different variations on the local cuisine are very welcoming to visitors.

The volunteers of Nallıhan Tourism Association (Turizm Derneği) guide the guests and  organize tour plans.

Nallıhan is 160 km from Ankara, 300 km from Istanbul, 100 km from Bolu and 120 km from Eskişehir; hourly buses depart Ankara every day. Buses leave Istanbul for Nallıhan on Fridays.

Where to Stay:
Karacasu Köyü Konaklama Evi,  0312-785 59 35
Öğretmen Evi, 0312-785 23 74
Ayhan Sümer Kültür Merkezi, 0312-785 26 00
Çınar Otel, 0312-785 11 90
İnan Otel : 0312-785 11 17

For information about the region:
Nallıhan Turizm Gönüllüleri Derneği (Nallıhan Tourism Volunteers Association): www.naltud.org.tr
Kooperatif (Cooperative): www.nallıhan.org.tr

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