An historic venue adorns modem Eskisehir’s backyard. We are talking about the quarter of Odunpazan with its narrow winding streets and gaily painted, wood-frame row houses. Regarded as choice examples of traditional Turkish architecture, these houses were reclaimed for tourism in the Odunpazari Houses Preservation Project launched in 2005 by the local municipality.
Like those at Beypazari, Safranbolu and Sirince in other parts of Turkey, the historic houses at Odunpazan are involved now in the branding process. And if you venture outside these three city centers into the valleys and steppes, you will encounter splendid Phrygian monuments at almost every kilometer. Dating back to the 12th century B.C., this civilization exhibited a mastery ahead of its time in architecture, carving, pottery and metal working.
And Midas, who signed the first political alliance at Gordion, was the Phrygians’ most famous king. This culture, which inhabited dwellings cut into the rocks, left behind extraordinary and refined monuments in the valleys of Yazilikaya, Yapikdak, Kumbet, Asmainler, Zahran, Porsuk, Ayazini and Goynus. To see all this and more, you need to take a tour to the Phrygian Valley. If the traveler inside you is keen on an exciting adventure of discovery, now is the time.
One of the best things about Anatolia is the juxtaposition of traditional values with everyday life in complete harmony. After finishing their routine chores, homemakers go to each other’s houses to visit. Served with the traditional tea or ayran (buttermilk), savory pastries such as ‘agziagik’ and lentil- filled ‘bukme’ are carried amidst peals of glee by the children of the house to the local bakery, where they are baked in the oven.
Colorful candies, Turkish Delight, chocolates and walnut ‘sucuk’… Candy stores remain part and parcel of life in the cities of the Phrygian Valley. And the opium poppies used in some candies immediately pop to mind at the mention of one of those towns, Afyonkarahisar. Used in a range of products from breads and pastries to pharmaceuticals, the opium poppy continues to be produced under state supervision.
One of the sages who contributed to the cultural ferment of these lands, Yunus Emre springs to mind at the mention of Eskisehir. And International Yunus Emre Culture Week is held every year in the city.
Art and tradition make their presence felt in the cities along the border of the Phrygian Valley. The tiles made by the late Sitki Olgar, one of the world’s leading tile producers, provide clues to Anatolia’s past. And starting from the 13th century, the grandsons of Mevlana Jalalladdin Rumi in Afyonkarahisar and Kutahya ensured the propagation of a new philosophy that would enlighten mankind.
Occupying a special place among the handicrafts of Kutahya and Turkey in general, the art of the tile has achieved an international reputation. Bird, fish, flower, plant and human motifs are generally used on the tiles, which are mainly in shades of dark and light blue, white and Bordeaux. (Funili Cami (the Tiled Mosque) at the city center and the shops that line the main street are proof of the importance given to tile making in this region.