A story of a typical Anatolian town: Beypazarı
Wilco van Herpen ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Photos by Wilco van HerpenOne of the places that took me by surprise was Beypazarı, a small town about 100 kilometers away from Ankara. To Turkish people a 100-kilometer distance is the same as if you go to your neighbors for a visit and for that reason Beypazarı became the popular and nostalgic neighbor of Ankara. A lot of people go and visit this sweet little town on weekends.
Beypazarı is a typical Central Anatolian town, hidden away between the surrounding mountains. When you stand on top of these mountains overlooking the city, the absence of trees is the first thing you will notice. It made me wonder how people could survive in this place. The extreme climate is seen just by looking around from this place.
I went there when it was cold, freezing cold. No local tourists, no foreign tourists, and because of that I could taste the authentic feeling of Beypazarı. Wandering the street I was surprised to see two men approaching on horseback. The beauty of it was that it was all so very natural. I imagined they came from a village nearby and went to Beypazarı to do some shopping. Sitting high on the horses they slowly wandered the city. In this setting it was an incredible view; as if I had time jumped and gone back 100 years in time.
On another street I saw a yorgancı (blanket maker). Still, in 2012, in Central Anatolia you can find those craftsmen. They make nice thick blankets for cold times. Colorful covers are stuffed with wool and create the best blanket you can think of. It does not matter if it is eight degrees Celsius or 25 degrees below zero, those blankets keep you warm. I ordered one, and the handicraftsman promised me that it would be ready the next day. He kept his promise; when I returned the next day I became the proud owner of a beautiful glossy green yorgan. This is the thing in Turkey; young people are sitting on a treasure but, unfortunately, do not realize they are sitting on it. I like these authentic things in Turkey, and fortunately in the last couple of years, students who finish their education have also started to realize that a lot of things in Turkey are very precious. When I spoke with this usta (handicraftsman) he complained about not being able to find young people who wanted to continue his business. If I were a student studying fashion or interior decoration I definitely would make something like this man was doing now. You give it a modern twist, and I am sure that a lot of people would like to buy something. Anyway, one day later I became the happy and proud owner of such a blanket and while sleeping under it, I thanked the man who made it for me many times. If you like sleeping under a big heavy blanket then this will be the best souvenir you can find. I promise you; years later you will still thank the man for making such a nice blanket for you.
Beypazarı is a place that keeps on surprising you. One of the specialties in Beypazarı is that you can spend the night in a very beautiful Ottoman house, and there are plenty of this kind of house.
Generally the local people are still living in these houses, which creates a different feeling from the beautiful houses in Safranbolu. There you get the feeling of living in an open-air museum; here you live among the locals. The nice thing about Beypazarı is that, during the time I was there, the prices of all those pensions were the same. The mayor of Beypazarı made a rule that all the prices in Beypazarı should be the same. So spending the night in a beautiful pension, eating somewhere in a restaurant or buying souvenirs. Everywhere the all prices will be the same.
If you want to buy a very original souvenir I would like to recommend carrot döner. You all know the famous döner in Turkey. It is a kind of sweet in the shape of the famous döner kebabı.
The difference is that this döner is orange and does not have to be cooked. Presented as a big lump, this carrot döner is the specialty of Beypazarı. The funny thing is that a lot of Turkish people do not know about this döner, so I knew I had bought an original souvenir.