The Magical Mystical Tour – Finale

Our last port of call on this ‘mystical’ tour is to the Çarşı or Marketplace Mosque in the village of Yazır Köyü some 14 kms SE of Acıpayam just a few kilometres off the D585 Denizli-Antalya road. There are family links through marriage between Acıpayam and my own village of Okçular. The town lies more than 150kms over the mountains at the far end of the track used for centuries by nomadic herders to move their animals from Denizli to winter pastures around here.

portico and magnificent plane tree

J and I arrived at the mosque shortly before midday prayers and there was time to sit under the magnificent plane tree and admire the proportions of this substantial, stone-built mosque. In fairly short order J was ‘discovered’ by one of the village ladies and whisked off to the quilting course being run nearby, which left me to drink tea and mumble and nod with the locals at the kahvehane.

Çarşı Camii is a fully functioning and very well attended mosque. With namaz over we were introduced to the imam who, as with every other place we visited, was delighted by our interest and very pleased to show us around and explain some of the history.

There is an inscription over the door that dates the mosque to 1802 and the endowment to Hacı Ömer Ağa. The front has an elegant portico and the door is flanked by two mihrabs. Inside, we were both astounded by the quality of the unknown artist’s workmanship. This was not the naïve brushwork that we had found in any of our previous visits and was more akin to that found in the painted konak in Birgi with splendid panels depicting various different flowers in vases and others of buildings. One feature stood out for me and that was the amazing alabaster plaster work window frames. Many had some or a lot of damage but enough were intact to convey an image of how the interior would have looked.

this beautiful alabaster window frame has suffered some damage

There is a mystical, other-worldliness to these places that has to be experienced – for me, a lover of fantasy fiction, it is like standing in a real live setting from Lord of the Rings or similar. I have no difficulty transporting myself back to a time when flickering candles provided light and adherents of Sufism practiced the Dhikr or Sema, moving rhythmically in a circle and chanting or singing their devotions.

I’ll leave you to your own imaginings as you browse through a few photos; I do hope you’ve enjoyed the tour.

more sophisticated artistry

the beautiful and elaborate ceiling

as you look at these decorations remember that this mosque was built in an isolated, rural corner of this vast country more than 200 years ago

the women’s gallery

ceiling detail

and another

the minbar

richly decorated mihrab with Koranic verses

panel detail

from the women’s gallery

 Postscript: as J and I prepared to leave we were told that there was a wonderful cavern by the name of Keloğlan Mağarası on the way back to to the main road, so we took ourselves off to see it. At some point it looks as though there were considerable public funds expended on a road, a restaurant and an office or two. It was also evident that visitors were few and far between.

view from the cavern entrance back to Yazır Köyü

The guardian was ensconced behind his steamed-up window; there was a hand-written notice asking for three lira per person; J grabbed the tickets and stuck her cold hands back into her pockets. The guardian eyed my cameras with suspicion and pointed at the notice (no flash).  He obviously didn’t trust me because he insisted on following us inside the caves which, as it turned out, was not a bad thing.

Now, you know what these places are like – dripping wet with concrete and steel walkways and stairs. We had wandered about a hundred metres or so, ‘Ooohing!’ and ‘Ahhhing!’ when it happened – power cut, all the lights went out and nobody had considered any emergency back-up! We froze where we were on the steps surrounded by a Stygian blackness, listening to our breathing and the dripping of water – we could see nothing. Then a voice from the darkness asked ‘Sizde bir çakmak var mı?’ ‘Have you got a lighter?’ Bloody hell! Truth to tell we don’t smoke and it hadn’t occurred to us to bring one, so we held on to each other as the sound of shuffling footsteps faded away replaced by the eerie, high-pitched squeaking of bats. It took a while but the fellow eventually returned with a torch with about two minutes of life left in the battery and led us out.

here’s a picture of what we didn’t get to see (Acıpayam tourism office)

So, we never did see the cave, we didn’t get our money back either and later J noticed that the ticket price was TL2 – the sod had ripped us off! Burası Türkiye!’

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

26 thoughts on “The Magical Mystical Tour – Finale

  1. Absolutely amazing! Reminds me of a cavern I visited on Gozo with my son… It was in someone’s basement and the lights went whilst we were down there….

    I am unfailingly impressed by your ability to chat in Turkish. Our language skills remain pitiful though, we think, we are gradually getting there.

    1. . . don’t kid yourself that my Turkish is up to scratch – I understand a fair bit but respond so slowly. J is pretty damn good an helps to hide my ineptitude!

  2. Beautiful photos of the mosque and the view! The paintings inside this mosque are truly remarkable. I need to start visiting more local mosques when I’m in Turkey! I’m glad you made it out of the cave okay. I’m making a note to myself to carry a flashlight when in Turkey, power outages seem to happen at the most awkward moments (last time it happened to me I was in the WC.)

    1. Hi Turklish and thank you for the compliment! I think that power outages are the reason so many Turks smoke – need the lighter to find the light, so to speak 😉

  3. Alan, We have been so impressed with the Magical Mystical Tour. We love the kind of artistry displayed in the places you visited – gorgeous, lovingly-made, unique and original designs. B to B is right. It’s really great that this last one is still in use since it means it will be preserved. As far as the cave goes, well – we would have been quivering pools of jelly by the time we got out as we have a bit of claustrophobia. But your experience gave us a chuckle.

    1. Hello SDs! J and I enjoyed this trip so much – for the spectacle and for the kindness of interesting people. Three of the seven mosques were actually in daily use, one was being looked after by a foundation and one was used regularly for instruction – that at least gives these beautiful pieces of living art a future.

    1. . . thanks for the sharing, really is time consuming this end – I periodically have a go but usually give up in frustration. The caves and a torch will be on the agenda next time we pass through that way as it looks like we missed a good spectacle.

  4. You certainly saved the most beautiful mosque for your last photo account, Alan. Really fantastic craftmanship. Wonderful!

    1. . . just the way it happened – started with one going to wrack and ruin and finished with the most sophisticated. And you are right – wonderful! 🙂

  5. Many thanks for doing the all the legwork ( and homework) to guide us in to so much undiscovered Turkey. I have really enjoyed the whole tour, you seem to have enjoyed it too and that enthusiasm shines through. I really must get out more!

  6. . . it is lovely and although there are problems with the windows and some of the woodwork, they are taking care of it.

  7. I agree with you on the mystical, other-worldliness that is often found by me (and you) in these places. I used to just think it was the newness and other-ness of Turkiye but it has stuck and I am glad for it.

    M is going down memory lane on these photos as he was stationed in Denizli for his military duty.

    I especially love the panel detail.

    Lovely. May there be another trip with a finale soon!

    1. . . thanks Liz – it was a special tour and with luck and a fair wind we might get around some of them again (or others) with you guys – now that would be Magical! 😀

  8. That turned out to be rather an interesting trip didn’t it and you have a great gift of putting it all together, your a brilliant story teller I love them all.

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