These are some of the scanned 35mm film images from my early trips, with my partner, around Turkey from 1993 through to 2003. These images were taken during the many journeys detailed in my book, Travels in Turkey. Unfortunately, color film processing was not good in Turkey and the high ambient temperatures and xray searches at airports changed the quality of the unprocessed films. Some of the images have a color cast.
Below is an early morning view of Amasra from a viewing point just below the top of the mountain chain that runs along the north coast of Turkey. The road down from this point is not for the faint-hearted. We all thought the coach driver deserved a well-earned rest when we got to the bottom safely. The view both east and west along the mountains is breath-taking.
Amasra is a historic resort on the Black Sea coast. Relatively undiscovered by europeans, and famous for it’s fish restaurants, the ruined city walls, churches, the approach down a steep mountain road - and for the spirit of Jason - still searching for the golden fleece.
This was taken from near a small ancient bridge that connects a headland to the mainland and shows a part of the village with the mountains in the background. You might get some idea of the steepness of the road from the top of the mountain range down to the town in this image. What makes this area different from the south are the trees. However, this is because the weather is more temperate and it can rain a lot. The small bay in the foreground was ordered to be cut out of bedrock by a notable many centuries ago so that his daughter could bathe unseen by the people.
These red-tiled houses are on the edge of the headland and have beautiful views to the Black Sea. The weather was perfect on the day I took these images but it can be changeable.
Safranbolu is an old market town and regional centre in the north. It is famous for timber-framed houses, narrow streets, the hotel with the meeting room with the pool in the center to both keep the room cool and stop eavesdropping and lokum (turkish delight) and helva (nicer).
Yoruk is a partially restored, village in the north. It contains many timber-framed houses, a communal laundry, a bath-house (still in ruins in the 1990s) and a couple of interesting country mosques - one built completely out of wood. One of the old houses also serves as a coffee shop for visitors and any profit made goes to help restore the old buildings. One beautifully restored private house is open to the public - for a small fee to help pay for its upkeep.
This house is partially restored while others are in an advanced state of decay. The streets are all narrow, both to give protection from the sun and probably to be easily defensible. The original nomadic yoruks were fierce fighters - some so much so that they were often forcibly moved away. The people here today were friendly and we were given a large meal cooked over an open fire which consisted of leaf bread with an array of fillings and as much cay (tea) as any english person could drink. Turkish people drink more tea than we do.
Dikmen Park is a popular, ultra-modern oasis near the busy heart of Ankara with refreshing architecture amid lakes, ponds and wooded hillsides. A few years ago this was a shanty town. All the residents were rehoused in modern flats nearby as the gecekondas (squatter homes) were cleared and work began. The small mosque is new and quite light inside. This image, from the south side of the bridge, was taken on a new year day with snow clouds looming. The following day the snow was more than knee-deep and the whole valley was quiet and looked very different.
The two towers are connected by a bridge that spans the upper end of the valley. There is sometimes a nomad’s tent beneath the bridge where you can get cay or a cup of strong kahve.
The trees and vegetation are beginning to mature and soften the hard outline of the high-rise buildings. The lakes also add to the refreshing quality of this city oasis. Parts of Ankara are filling with trees and the authorities are planting more. This is helping to raise the humidity as the air is quite dry.
Fountains grace the centre of the valley from the bridge to the road and supply water for the two lakes. This area is popular with the locals and, at the moment (mid 1990s), very few people from outside of Ankara go there.
A sunny weekend afternoon and people are out for a stroll around the fountains - just like anywhere. (Compare these images with the images I took in 2013, while writing my latest book on Turkey).
These images were taken in the Ilhara valley. Kapadokya is a unique, historic and geologically amazing area in central Anatolia. There are masses of large pointed rock formations, called ‘fairy chimneys’, caused by volcanic eruptions and wind erosion. Many of them have been hollowed out as monks cells and some are still lived in today.
Your ecological transport awaits you in front of a truly ecological home. All the camels we saw in Turkey were well treated by their owners, becoming a sort of family pet and quite friendly and inquisitive - especially if you are eating something. We were tempted to have a ride into the valley as the temperature was high and getting higher but we decided against learning how to ride one in such rocky terrain.
At this point my camera overheated (and so did I). The light-meter gave spurious readings so I had to guess the exposures. The temperature rose to 42 degrees centigrade in the valley and not a breathe of wind. We learned later that some people working the fields to the south had died of heat stroke. Conditions for many people in Turkey are still difficult but in spite of this I have found all the people (away from the tourist hot spots) to be warm and welcoming.
This lone rock cave must have provided the right amount of isolation for the original monastic occupant although the boy supplying the daily water and food must have had a hard time of it.
Most of the dwellings are quite large and many can only be entered by climbing up a steep and fragile ladder, if there is one, or climbing up the rock itself which is quite soft and gritty. Getting down is always more difficult and can be dangerous for the less agile.
This is a typical fairy chimney. It is a fairly old one as the new ones are quite light in color. The rock on the top is harder than the rock below and the wind and rain weather them at different speeds. People travel from Ankara every few years to see the changes.
There must be underground water in this part of the valley. These trees weren’t suffering from the high temperatures and lack of rain. There was a field nearby with some food crops growing. The original monks would have had people growing their food for them in this valley.
This multitude of rock dwellings are hewn out of the soft rock that had no hard rock on top of it and so they come to a point. The two volcanoes that produced the rock are still smouldering not to far away (too close for me). These dwellings are at the every edges of the soft rock field.
Fresh rock cones in an area untouched by hermit home-dwellers. It would take a healthy person to go walking through this country. In my nightmares I see this view with a sign - ‘Homes ripe for development’. Quite a few of the original rock homes are still lived in in the villages and the owners prefer them to modern concrete flats saying that they are warmer and more humid.
Download a free PDF version of the Glossary of Turkish Words and the Pronunciation Guide used in the book. You can refer to it while reading the book.
Download a map of Turkey here. (Map by courtesy of Daniel Dalet, Marcoux, France. Visit his website, d-maps and choose a slightly different map).
Return to the Travels in Turkey book page here.