Monthly Archives: August 2011

Our idea of a holiday: 3000km driving later…

Tiya at Kizkalesi

We drove from Antakya to Kizkalesi (Maiden’s Castle) which was just what the doctor ordered. Sand, sea (with fantastic views of a castle thrown in for good measure) and fish.

From there we drove on to Mamure Castle and Anemurium. The former is a child’s ideal of a medieval castle: fantastic location by the sea, ramparts walk with impressive battlements, surrounding moat, and almost deserted. And a mosque in the middle! Anemurium was pretty but eerily quiet. I had that sinking sensation in my stomach when I realised I was walking on (and crushing) 1400 year old bits of brick, mosaic and pottery (the town was abandoned in the 7th century AD so I did the maths!). Years ago I once stopped my taxi while travelling in Punjab, ostensibly following the path of the Saraswati river – I know, one of the many strange things I have done – and loaded …

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Nemrut Dağı and Antakya (ancient Antioch)

Antakya Mosaic

We drove to Nemrut Daği, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is probably the most common image everyone sees of Turkey. I have to say I found the “heads” a bit bizarre but could see why Antiochus I (69-34 BC) built this funerary mound where he did. Looking around, you are above the clouds and do feel on the top of the world.

Antakya (Antioch), different to everywhere else in Turkey in every which way, is only 60 miles from the Syrian border crossing and indeed once was part of Syria under French rule. It was a bit of a trudge from Nemrut Daği but I am glad we went. It is a happy buzzing town steeped in history. Established in 300 BC by one of Alexander the Great’s officers, the city became an important centre for religion. What is possibly the world’s earliest Christian church, the Cave Church of …

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