Three Turkish districts nominated to be added to Cittaslow network
The Köyceğiz district of the southwestern province of Muğla, the Kemaliye district of the eastern Erzincan province and the Ahlat district of the southeastern province of Bitlis have been nominated to be added to a network of slow cities, Cittaslow.
There are currently a total of 15 Turkish districts on the Cittaslow list.
The Cittaslow movement was born in Italy in 1999. To achieve the status of “Slow City,” a city must agree to accept the guidelines of slow food and work to improve conviviality and conserve the local environment.
Kemaliye, 150 kilometers from the Erzincan city center, is known for its beautiful nature, wildlife and architecture. This small district has a total of museums, two in the center and other four in villages. The population of Kemaliye is some 2,000 but during the summer season, its population rises up to 15,000.
Tourists come here for trekking, boat tours in the Karanlık Canyon and base jumping.
No traffic lights
There are no traffic lights in the town. Most people prefer walking, including Kemaliye Mayor Mustafa Haznedar, who commutes between his home and the town hall on foot.
“Kemaliye has the spirit of a slow city. No hurly burly. Most houses here have their own yards where people grow vegetables. Kemaliye meets all the Cittaslow criteria,” says Haznedar, who is confident the town will join the network of slow cities.
Nermin Taştan returned to her hometown of Kemaliye after she retired as a teacher.
“I have a mobile phone but I rarely touch it here. I have no internet connection at home. We have a TV set but never turn it on. We love living slow. Everything moves so slowly here, expect for death,” Taştan said.
An open air museum
Located near Lake Van, Ahlat, for its relics from the Seljuk era, serves like an open air museum. It is home to Seljuk tombstones, cave houses, historic bridges and two castles.
The archeological findings are exhibited in a museum in Ahlat. The town enjoys the wonders of history and nature at the same time.
Ninety-two year-old Tahsin Kalender, who is a stone craftsman, was added to UNESCO’s living human treasuries list in 2010 and lives in Ahlat.
With a population of 20,000, the town has specially designed roads for bicycles and the disabled.
In five food markets, organic products grown by women are sold. Ahlat is also known for its handmade canes.
“We live in peace here and people respect each other. We have a rather monotonous life here but we love it,” İhsan Erkoç said about Ahlat.
Almost no crime is committed in Ahlat. In the past year, only one person was killed and there were three reported burglaries. The perpetrators stole an animal from a barn, a pair of shoes in an apartment and jewelry at a wedding.
“People are not ill-tempered in Ahlat, thus there are almost no criminal offences in the town. People live safe and peacefully,” said Mustafa Akgül, the provincial district governor.
“There are only four traffics lights in Ahlat and there are schools located around for children’s safety. Ahlat meets all of the criteria of a slow city,” said Ahlat Mayor Mümtaz Çoban.