Bragging For Birgi

Some of the best or most interesting posts from Archers of Okçular over the years

first posted: 29.7.2011

Turkey is full of ‘must see’ sites and sights and the tiny town of Birgi, near Ödemiş in İzmir province is high on our list. J and I have been back a number of times and I don’t think we’ll ever tire of the place.

Birgi nestles a few kilometres north of Ödemiş in the foothills of Boz Dağ (Boz Mountains). It is a quiet, unspoilt, dignified time-warp of a place that is now being slowly gentrified. Wandering its shady, tree-lined streets and soaking up the spirit of bygone times is rather like a refreshing shower on a steamy day. Enchanting as this town is the reason J and I keep going back is to reacquaint ourselves with two rare and very precious gems – a house and a mosque.

The mosque dates from Selçuk times and once had a flat, earth covered roof. This was ‘vandalised’ by those who should have known better and a pitched roof installed. Whereas once the mosque was cool in summer and warm in winter, now the reverse is true; locals I have spoken to say they are determined to restore the building to its former glory (İnşallah!).

So, what makes this mosque so special? Two things; a pair of doors from the mimbar and the mimbar itself . .

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The doors are a stunning example of late Selçuk, early Ottoman (1322) craftsmanship that has to be seen to be appreciated. They were stolen in 1993 and ended up with Christies in London where they were recognised by an employee and the matter reported to Interpol; after being missing for over 2 years they were repatriate back to Birgi’s Ulu Camii where you can appreciate them.

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The mimbar is a remarkable construction of thousands of individual pieces of wood that mesh together without a single nail, screw or dab of glue to form a beautiful whole. In the age of computers and CAD I truly wonder if such a thing could ever be duplicated – a work of art that begs to be touched and stroked.

An additional ‘gem’ (if he is still there) is the young imam; a lovely guy and an enthusiast for his mosque who leaves his phone number by the entrance so you can have him come to unlock and show you around.

The house, which lays just a few hundred metres from the mosque, is stunning (my word for today) at first sight – it is a carefully restored Konak that is over three hundred years old. What makes this elegant house stand out from any Ottoman period building is the beautifully crafted murals that once covered almost every part of every wall together with the incredible wooden mosaic ceilings.

I cannot begin to adequately describe what you will find, so best to let some photographs weave their magic spell. Better still, go and see for yourself!

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Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Çimenova to Beydili – Walking ‘St Paul’s Trail’ by Car

Some of the best or most interesting posts from Archers of Okçular over the years

 

first posted 16.7.2011

P100-3 St Paul Trail by Kate Clow

J and I, together with field biologist friend Paul Hope and wife Pat had been spending a few days exploring the rivers, lakes and pools in the area about 30kms South of Lake Eğidir. We were based in the small, out-of-the-way town of Sütçüler; a sleepy place slowly fading back into the brown landscape from which it had emerged as the Pisidian redoubt of Adada some 2100 ago.

Having satisfied Paul’s craving for dragonflies we decided to opt for a bit of adventurous exploring. I had read about Beydili in Kate Clow’s wonderful walking guide ‘St Paul’s Trail’ and having pushed our trusty Dobló up and down a few tracks that goats view with trepidation, I had few qualms about ‘doing’ Kate’s walk with the old girl. (all cars, with the exception of the AC Cobra, are in true nautical tradition, feminine)

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first view of Beydili

Anyway, we set out from Sütçüler in a generally easterly direction, driving until the asphalt road ended at a goat track that appeared to be heading upwards towards the top of Sarp Dağ that towered above us.

Here, at the end of the road, there were a couple of houses and standing outside were a couple of blokes. We asked them about the road to Beydili – was it drivable? The guy indicated his car, a wreck of a Renault, and said he might try it in his or with a tractor – buuut . . . ‘Nuff said, and off we set; first gear was going to get some serious testing!

What an amazing track; it is so obviously very old, parts are cobbled and it is narrow enough to know that you don’t want to meet anyone coming the other way or break down as the only way back is being dragged out by a tractor. Onwards and upwards! The drive was crazy and exhilarating, some might say it was stupid especially as the passengers had to get out fairly frequently so I’d have enough ground clearance to get over the boulders! Crazy? Yes! Reckless? No! In satisfying my curiosity for what might be around the next bend I’ve never got stuck but once and on that occasion we were dug out by a couple of passing yörüks – ‘Allah Korusun!’ Looking back, this was an act of supreme lunacy! Due to the roughness of the track all of my concentration was on getting to the next bend in the path – there are no photos!

We actually caught up with a tractor and trailer which gave us enough room to pass (a sign of my reckless driving?) – 10 minutes later the tractor was looking to pass us! Eventually we reached the top of the pass and began the winding descent; after a couple of kilometres we rounded a bend and there below us was our destination – the village of Beydili.

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Beydili doors

Beydili is an amazing place; essentially it remains as it has been for hundreds of years with the exception that electricity has been brought in. There are no roads to the village because the mountain is too steep, so there is no concrete, no cars, no quad bikes and no tourists, no ‘progress’. Buildings are made of stone and wood, water cascades along stone channels and dogs, by tradition, are banned. Despite appearances, people live and thrive here by herding and hunting just as they have done for hundreds of years.

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Pictures are better than words . .

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Beydili is an amazing ‘time warp’, if you are of the intrepid variety I recommend it to you – the experience of getting there is only matched by the village itself and the local people. They have a guest house that you can stay in and share in the life of this remote and isolated community; I doubt that you will experience such closeness to the greatness of the mountains and Toprakana (Mother Earth) anywhere else – ‘Over the hills and far away’.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü