Our mystical tour moves on . . salvaged from Archers of Okcular first posted February 2013
Boğaziçi and Kocaköy
Finding the village of Boğaziçi from our base in Pamukkale meant a drive of about a hundred kms – first south to Denizli and then east to the junction of the D595 Uşak Yolu. I find this a rather sad stretch of road having covered it several times; rather like driving through an industrial wasteland with only the view of the beautiful snow-capped mountains to redeem it. Follow the Uşak road and just after the village of Denizler fork right for Baklan. Then take the second turning on the right (approx 3kms) signposted to Boğaziçi and look out for the minaret.
Boğaziçi is a very small town and having found the old mosque (tucked in behind the new one) locked and shuttered we made enquiries at the nearby belediye offices. Here, yet again, we came face to face with that most wonderful of Turkish traits – a willingness to drop everything, talk, drink tea and help a guest/stranger. We were taken to the tea house, phone calls were made and the keyholder of the mosque was located – miles up in the mountains cutting wood!
‘Problem yok!’ (No problem!) We had a car and a willing guide was found and off we set, twisting and turning along dirt roads that were a mixture of dust, puddles, ruts and quicksands! At one stage we were forced over to the edge to let a huge grading machine through before finally coming to a forced stop by two trucks, one of which was suffering a serious health problem! Undaunted and without a word our guide got out and set off along the track – we had no idea if or when we might see him again. Twenty minutes later he returned triumphant with the key and we were on our way back to Boğaziçi.
Boğaziçi mosque was built around 1774; well, there is an inscription that dates the kalemişi (painting) to that date, and it was repaired and repainted in 1876. There are similarities of style with the mosque at Belenardıç so the same artist may have carried out the work. With floral and geometric artwork inspired by Sufi beliefs and geometric and cross-banding decoration to the ceiling and beams that are reminiscent of some of the earliest medieval mosques of Anatolia, what awaited us inside was magnificent. The warmth of the colours is incredible, I’ll let the photos speak . . .
The village has registered a foundation to try and save this beautiful piece of Turkey’s heritage, there is hope that it might have a future.
Kocaköy and its Şalvan Mosque, so-called because that was once the village name, lies about 28kms north west of Boğaziçi as the crow flies (a lot further by country roads), through attractive landscape and tiny villages. It is a poor little place with a beautiful outlook over a sweeping valley. We parked at the mosque and set out to find the kahvehane (tea house) where we were immediately engaged by some young men who sent a boy off to find the imam. Meanwhile we were joined by Yaşar, groomed, dressed in a suit and looking every inch a ranking bureaucrat With the arrival of the imam the four of us set off back to the mosque and so began one of the most enjoyable interludes that J and I have ever experienced on this type of visit.
Yaşar was an astounding fount of knowledge about the mosque, history, old cultures and customs – in many instances the imam deferred to him and listened as intently as we did. The Şalvan Mosque was built around 1800 and the exterior is far more elaborate and well cared for than any other of the village mosques we have seen so far. There is an inscription above the door saying that it was ordered by Hatip Mehmed Ağa, son of Hacı Musa, in that year.
Inside my reactions were mixed – the walls were painted an almost luminous green and there was an ugly, white tiled mihrab with just a small part of the original exposed.
Yaşar explained that much renovation had been carried out because of the poor state of the plaster-work and in the process everything, including the wooden pillars were covered in a sort of roughcast and then painted. What might have once been unique depictions, ‘Heaven’ on one wall ‘Hell’ on the opposite, were forever lost. All was not totally lost however, our eyes were drawn up to the ceiling that, although in need of some repair and restoration, remains intact and it is stunning!
Our time in this mosque followed by a visit to the restored village çeşme (spring) and then back to the teahouse for more tea and talk is an enduring memory. Can you imagine sitting in a steamy kahvehane in rural Turkey, discussing politics, religion, French philosophers, archaeology, the state of the environment and much else with a farmer dressed in an immaculate business suit and an imam who is also an animal farmer and who could give Omar Sharif a run for his money. I’ll tell you this, we have an invitation to go back for more exploration and chat and I do believe we’ll take them up on it! Yaşar wants to take us to the Menderes valley just below the village where ancient underground grain stores of stashes of wheat and barley were discovered by the villagers with amphora so large that two men could get inside.
Our plan was to make a great loop back to Pamukkale via the town of Güney. There was an ulterior motive to this as the Pamukkale wine company have their facility here and it is possible to buy mixed cases of their excellent products at wholesale prices – so we did! We had also eaten nothing since breakfast so coffee and cakes at the pastane (pastry shop) were called for. This led to another enjoyable and time-consuming interlude with several young teachers over shared coffee, cakes and then more tea! By the time we left it was dark with the long and winding road across country back to our hotel ahead of us – but what a day!
. . stay tuned for the final episode of magic and mystical . .
Alan in Okçular