Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The perfect present: the Evliya Çelebi Way guidebook

Now that the guidebook to the Evliya Çelebi Way has appeared, we have interest in the English-language Turkish press:



The dedicated new website—where the book can be bought, and with practical information about the route—is now working: www.evliyacelebiway.com

www.cultureroutesinturkey.com is the mother site for all 13 official Turkish cultural routes.

The Turkish translation will soon be published.

We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Equitourists ride again!

The Great Anatolia Ride 2011, along the first section of the Evliya Çelebi Way from Hersek village to Kütahya, is over. We set out on 2 September, and reached Kütahya on 13 September, with time to sightsee (and shop) in İznik and Bursa en route. Our group was led by Ercihan Dilari (Akhal-Teke Horse Riding Center) on Anadolu as ever, with Susan Wirth on Elis. I was there as historian-in-residence, on Spirit, generously lent by Mehmet who with Serdar looked after us and our wonderful horses.
We had the pleasure of the company of Australian equitourists: Sue K on Zenobia, Margaret Mooney (of Horse Safety Australia) on Sahra, and Rhonda P on Kelebek; and Americans Rich Klauber (master farrier extraordinaire) and Susan Pieper on Leyla and Gül.
The weather was fine all the way!

I was riding the route for the second time, but it was every bit as exciting as the first—the exploratory ride in 2009 that established the Evliya Çelebi Way. We rode rivers and forests, plains and mountains, and marvelled at gorgeous landscapes and dramatic views; we camped in comfort in isolated villages, where we met local people and shared their daily lives; we stopped often for tea, and delighted any children who happened to be there with 'pony rides' around the square; we visited cities and sights that Evliya saw and wrote of, and compared his impressions with ours; we ate utterly scrumptious food; and we left our hoofprints on forest roads, Ottoman paved roads, goatpaths and across open country.
Amazing, even to Australians and Americans, lands where there is plenty of space, is that you can ride all the way from the Gulf of Izmit to Kütahya without having to negotiate a gate or a fence. That is one of the great joys of riding in Turkey, unimaginable elsewhere.

The final highlight was the Balıklı Hamam in Kütahya, where Evliya bathed—on the men's side of course—where we were cleansed of the accumulated grime of our days on the road by the skilful Ayşe Hanım. This, too, we unreservedly recommend, as a fitting conclusion to a journey that began with eager anticipation and ended with a deep glow of contentment.
Such a wonderful trip, in such excellent company. Nostalgia sets in immediately, and next time is too long away...

We have fabulous pics, lots and lots of them, and we will post some once they are sorted—watch this space.

Other news on the Evliya Çelebi Way... the guidebook is at last out. You will soon be able to buy it on our dedicated website. And once you have the book in hand, you can ride, walk or bike the Way. The guidebook is currently being translated into Turkish.

No excuse to stay at home—the Evliya Çelebi Way is open every day of the year, and it is free!

Caroline Finkel

Monday, 29 August 2011

Evliya Çelebi Way—latest news

Tomorrow, 30 August, is both an important Republican holiday in Turkey and also the first day of the feast of Şeker Bayramı that follows the holy month of Ramazan. A palpable sense of anticipation is in the air, and for we Evliya obsessives too. In only a couple of days time, on 2 September, the third group of equestrian tourers will saddle up and ride from the start of the Evliya Çelebi Way at Hersek village on the Gulf of İzmit, to Evliya's ancestral home in the city of Kütahya. We are particularly excited because this year is, as all are aware, the quatercentenary of his birth. Ercihan will lead the expedition; Susan and Caroline will also be along. The programme is found at: http://www.akhal-tekehorsecenter.com/en/ozeltours/8/great-anatolian-ride.html.
The guidebook to the EÇW is in the process of distribution, and will be available very soon—from various bookshops, from Kate Clow's site: www.trekkinginturkey.com, and from Cornucopia magazine: http://www.cornucopia.net/aboutecw.html. It can also be obtained from the dedicated website: www.evliyacelebiway.com (under construction, functioning imminently), and via www.cultureroutesinturkey.com (that links you to www.evliyacelebiway.com).
Pending publication Caroline has done various media appearances in Turkey. Further, an article by her on Evliya will appear in the British popular history magazine History Today (scheduled for the November issue).

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Evliya Çelebi Project: Rides, Ways, Reflections

The Evliya Çelebi Project: Rides, Ways, Reflections
Gerald MacLean

During 1-15 September 2011, riders again led by Ercihan Dilari will take to the trail following Evliya Çelebi from Hersek to Kütahya, on the first stage of his 1671 pilgrimage route to Mecca. As thoughts turn towards taking to the road in Evliya’s traces once again, I have been reflecting on our 2009 journey, in which the Evliya Çelebi project team pioneered the cultural route The Evliya Çelebi Way. Later this month, The Evliya Çelebi Way, the guidebook by Caroline Finkel and Kate Clow, with Donna Landry, will be available from Upcountry (Turkey).

What follows first appeared in the Turkish Areas Studies Review, 17 (Spring 2011).

Many more people have heard of Evliya Çelebi (1611-c.1683) than have read any part of his 10-volume Seyahatname or Book of Travels, one of the world’s greatest works of travel writing. Among the aims of the Evliya Çelebi Project is to encourage broader familiarity with Evliya and his text. The recent publication of An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi, translations into English by Robert Dankoff and Sooyong Kim (Eland, 2010), brings Evliya to English readers.

While the Evliya Çelebi Project centres on the Seyahatname, our multiple origins and evolution into a team with distinct interests and skills mean that the range of our ambitions and methods extends further. So allow me to back up and start by describing who the project involves and their interests since the project itself, and the ways that I think about Evliya and why his work is so important, take shape and focus from our conversations and discussions over the years. I will end with some reflections on what I learned from travelling for forty days and nights across western Turkey, on horseback, in the hoof prints of the great Ottoman traveller.

At more or less the same time, the 1990s, that Donna Landry and I were imagining how wonderful it would be to travel across Turkey on horseback, Caroline Finkel was thinking much the same thing, except that her plan involved travelling on foot. Soon after we met in 1999, the two schemes began to combine, swiftly moving from topics of dinner conversation into serious possibilities. Donna and I were already part of a research group exploring how and in what ways historical re-enactment was a useful method in historical and cultural research, but it must have been Caroline who introduced the name of Evliya Çelebi for the first time. While finishing Osman’s Dream (2005), her narrative history of the Ottoman Empire, Caroline had been working with Kate Clow on pioneering trekking routes across Turkey. Kate was establishing The Lycian Way and St Paul Trail, seeking to promote sustainable inland tourism away from the coastal resorts. For Donna, re-enactment is most fascinating when it entails horses and riding; she had already begun field research on native breeds on our travels in Turkey and working with Lady Anne Blunt’s manuscript journals of her equestrian travels in Turkey, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Donna’s recent study, Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture (2008) is only a start publishing research begun back then. For my part, I was finishing a book about seventeenth-century English travellers in the Ottoman Empire and we were revisiting, as best we could, the routes followed by my authors. So Evliya was soon an important focus of all our interests: he travelled by horse along routes that we could try to follow again.

If the project was to re-enact sections of Evliya’s route with a view to establishing sustainable cultural routes, doing it with horses became essential once Andy Byfield joined the team. Having recently published his major study of Anatolian flora, Andy was back in the UK working for Plantlife International. He is also a keen horseman, eager to revisit Anatolia from the saddle and study land use. Horses continued to open up further layers to our project. In rural areas, the equestrian sports of rahvan and cirit are flourishing, and players are often aware that these sports have their origins in the Ottoman world that Evliya knew and recounted. Players are also breeders, and make claims about the ancestry of their most successful horses. Donna is working with the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, collecting and documenting samples of mane hair for DNA evidence in hopes of tracing vanishing Anatolian breeds. Leyla Neyzi of Sabanci University joined the research team and is studying the culture of these equestrian games, which are of considerable interest as seemingly organic expressions of what in other registers might be called neo-Ottomanism.

Horses means horses. Once we had committed ourselves to 2009 as the year in which we would be taking to horse and riding along some of Evliya’s route, we needed horses. Evliya had wealthy sponsors, and was regularly awarded horses as gifts or spoils from battle. We had better fortune having Patricia Daunt join the team and lead us unerringly to Ercihan Dilari for our horses. With a second sense for how to do things, Caroline found not only the patrons and sponsors but also the energy left over for the onerous task of planning our route linking villages and sites mentioned by Evliya. And so it came about that the Evliya Çelebi Ride of 2009 took place. This was, to adopt a certain idiom, an epic journey lasting a legendary forty days and forty nights, that has forged the way for a European cultural route through western Turkey. Between the 22nd of September and the 2nd of November, an international group of scholars and horse enthusiasts retraced on horseback the first section of the haj itinerary of the greatest of Ottoman travellers.

Evliya set out for Mecca in 1671 with three companions, eight servants, and fifteen pedigreed horses. The core group of the Evliya Çelebi Ride were Ercihan, who supplied the seven horses and guided the expedition, Caroline, Donna, myself, together with support vehicle staff Metin Aker and Sedat Varış. Riders who joined for shorter or longer periods included Patricia and Andy, Turkish Jockey Club vet Ayşe Yetiş, Cappadocian entrepreneurs Özcan Görürgöz and Alper Katrancı, trekkist and academic Pınar Durmaz, Montreal advertising executive Thérèse Tardif, and photographic editor at the New York office of Der Spiegel, Susan Wirth. The expedition was accompanied for part of the journey by Mehmet Çam and other members of the Istanbul production company Ajans21, who shot beautiful footage for a potential documentary about Evliya and the expedition.

From Hersek, on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara, we followed Evliya to Iznik, Bursa, Kütahya, Afyon, Uşak, Simav, Çavdarhisar, and back to Kütahya, Evliya’s ancestral city. Thanks to the brave and agile horses, we forded rivers, climbed mountains, made friends with local villagers, drank tea and Turkish coffee in countless kahve-s, explored ancient sites and Ottoman cities, attended rahvan (pacing) horse races and mounted cirit (javelin) matches, and camped under the stars in unspoiled landscapes of staggering beauty. Some 1300 kilometres later, the horses and core riders fetched up in Kütahya, unfazed by adventures and ready for more.

One thing that we established beyond a doubt is how suitable the Turkish countryside remains for riding, trekking, and other forms of sustainable tourism. So long as traditional agricultural practices of semi-nomadic grazing and farmers’ shared use of the land keep the countryside open and unprivatised, Turkey remains one of the very few places in the developed world in which it is possible to make such long distance cross-country journeys unhindered by ‘No Trespassing!’ signs and barbed wire fences. Turkish hospitality guarantees travellers safe passage and a warm welcome. The expedition proved such a success that, in the late summer of 2010, Ercihan led commercial rides along part of the Evliya Çelebi Way established by our 2009 journey and plans future rides for 2011. The guidebook will soon be published in English and in Turkish. A multi-authored book presenting the interdisciplinary research findings is also in the works, as are plans for exploring further Evliya Çelebi Way routes for walkers and riders.

Another thing we learned was just how widely Evliya is still known wherever he went. In every village that we passed through where there was a school, the children had all heard of him; in some villages, elder statesman reported what they believed Evliya to have said about their locality. We knew that the name of Evliya Çelebi was known beyond his readership, but were struck by how true this was along our route. All of us have notebooks full of such fascinating observations arising directly from our form of travel, and I would like to end by returning to my notebook and the question of ‘were horses necessary?’

One of the assumptions of re-enactment as a research method is that you don’t know what you will find until you get there. So, while I set out with general rather than precise research goals and questions, my main quest was to find out what the trek itself would offer: for example, what new ways of thinking about my interest in Evliya would come about? What was it like to travel in this way, on horses, camping every night, finding and preparing food for ourselves and the horses, adjusting to temperature changes: how do these alter and shape the understanding of a place as it is now, and as it appears in Evliya’s description of 400 years ago? We didn’t ride on Ottoman saddles or wear Ottoman clothes; but neither were we comfortably outnumbered by our servants as he was. We were accompanied by a support vehicle that converted into a kitchen and carried our tents and luggage as well as hard-feed for the horses and a motor cycle. And unlike Evliya, we were seeking to establish a route that could be used by walkers, mountain bikers, and horses: one that provided an adequate series of camp sites where the presence of a group of horses and people was not merely welcome but advantageous and certainly not an ecological disaster. For of course, not everywhere is suited for a group of horses and people suddenly to camp, and the fear of nomads suddenly becoming residents is not far from the thoughts of most villagers. So there were logistical answers that had to be found for establishing a route others after us would be invited to take. We didn’t want to lead them to villages where they would be less than welcome, though I must admit we found only one of these, such is the continued culture of hospitality throughout rural Western Anatolia, as we found it.

Many rural areas have changed little since Evliya’s day, and for short periods we rode along paths and even old cobbled roads that Evliya would have travelled along. The most spectacular instance was the view as one drops down onto the plain towards Altintaş. I have extended notes on this. As far as common experience with Evliya goes, such moments are important I think because they demand one recognise the utter beauty of the scene ahead—a route shaded by tall thin poplars leading towards what is clearly a city though more than ten kilometres away, but since it is placed in the midst of a plain so vast that the eye cannot register its size, it can only tell how very, very far all the encircling mountain ranges are, except the one that is just behind—and the way it demands you to stop and think about the way the landscape has been inhabited as well as the demands of writing about it. I have yet to find out if Evliya described this moment, but such moments are crucial in any case because one is riding on a horse. I have ridden extensively for more than thirty years, have led treks regularly over areas of Dartmoor and ridden on treks in numerous countries before. But one thing that travelling every day on horseback, sleeping at night in a tent, taught me was the perceptual and conceptual shifts that occur when, after about two weeks or so, you have been riding for so many hours every day that you have forgotten what day of the week it is and your body is not in the least interested. No one got ill on the entire trip, despite ad hoc sanitary practices and the enormous amount of energy it requires simply to travel that way for weeks. But along the way, moments and scenes arise that announce they are important and insist that they will be written about, and often that comes as a sudden change in subjectivity and perception, a break in the rhythm or a change in the way your horse goes forward.

So what did I learn about Evliya, the Ottoman traveller who journeyed by horse, slept in tents, and enjoyed the hospitality of people in different villages and towns? Well, I learned why Evliya so often recorded the regional specialities—apples from here, local pasta from somewhere else, the local yoghurts and walnuts, the breads and tomatoes, the peppers and garlics—and that was because they are incomparably wonderful. And we learned that they are still freely given to travellers who arrive on horseback. He wrote about them because you cannot forget these things. Like the beauty of the Turkish landscape as viewed from the saddle, they too demand to be written about, and Evliya recognised that fact. He also took strange and exceptionally indirect routes, and it is so easy to imagine how local hospitality must often have been responsible. How could Evliya resist an invitation from someone who has suggested a visit to some friends in the next village, which is only a day’s journey by horse, not at all out of the way, and where they serve the most wonderful fish?

The minute particularities of place do matter, not just local culinary specialties, but linguistic, social, architectural and intellectual specificities, and although places change over time, they also retain a distinctive character: that is something important I’ve learned from following Evliya. What is most striking is how much variety there is in western Anatolian rural life, replete with village to village differences, dramatic shifts in architecture, religion, and language or dialect only a few miles apart. Multiple layers of migration and immigration testify to the ethnic diversity and cultural heterogeneity of the Ottoman Empire, especially as its borders shrank during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before its dissolution and the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The character of the traveller is also a feature of Evliya’s writing that remains tellingly imprinted in the mind after reading him. Unlike UK government insistence that academic research be instantly marketable, Evliya’s much richer purpose was the gathering of information for its own sake, driven by curiosity. Only by compiling all the facts of a place, all the stories he heard, the events that happened while he was there, only then could he hope to discover the world, all the ‘races of men,’ and the scientific and mystical nature of things.

For details of the forthcoming September 2011 ride, check out the Great Anatolian Ride at www.akhal-tekehorsecenter.com

References and Further Information:

Ajans 21, Istanbul www.ajans21.com

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge www.mcdonald.cm.ac.uk

Byfield, Andrew. Important Plant Areas in Turkey. 2005, 2010.

Çelebi, Evliya. An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from The Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi. Translated with a commentary by Robert Dankoff and Sooyong Kim. London: Eland, 2010.

Clow, Kate. The Lycian Way. Upcountry (Turkey), 2000.

Clow, Kate. St Paul Trail. Upcountry (Turkey), 2004.

Finkel, Caroline. Osman’s Dream. The Story of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1923. London: Murray, 2005.

Landry, Donna. Noble Brutes: How Eastern Horses Transformed English Culture. Baltimore, MD, 2008.

MacLean, Gerald. Looking East: English Writing and the Ottoman Empire before 1800. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007.

MacLean, Gerald. The Rise of Oriental Travel: English Visitors to the Ottoman Empire, 1580-1720. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004.

Neyzi, Leyla, and Kharatyan-Araqelyan, Hranush. Speaking to one another: personal memories of the past in Armenia and Turkey. Bonn: DVV, 2010.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Evliya and the World Arabian Horse Organization

From the 2011 Newsletter of WAHO:


We at WAHO thought you might be interested to hear about the
Evliya Çelebi Ride and Way Project which has been gathering
momentum for the past couple of years.

Evliya Çelebi (1611-c.1683) was the greatest of Ottoman travellers but he remains largely unknown outside Turkey and Ottoman scholarship. Evliya
authored the ten-volume Seyahatname, or ‘Book of Travels’, a work that appears
to record every fact and retell every story that the vastly curious Evliya discovered
along the way over forty years of travel. In an animated TV series on the Turkish
national channel TRT in the 1980s, ‘Az gittik, uz gittik’ (‘Travel a little, travel far’), Evliya and his horse Küheylan were the stars. They deserve to be even better

The Long Riders’ Guild have included him in their online index, and
UNESCO has included the 400th anniversary of his birth as one of the official
anniversaries with which they are associated for the year 2011. (Since 1956,
UNESCO has participated in the commemorations of historic events and in the
anniversaries of eminent personalities, in order to give them worldwide significance
and draw attention to the personalities, works or events that have contributed to
the mutual enrichment of cultures helping to promote international
understanding, closer relations among peoples and peace.)

Today, the Evliya Çelebi Ride and Way Project seeks to promote awareness of
Evliya Çelebi and his times, as well as to stimulate popular interest in Ottoman
and equestrian history.

Evliya states his love of horses explicitly when he tells us in the Seyahatname
that he has never been without the companionship of horses, that he has always
owned between five and ten during his whole long life. He cites the Qur’an
regarding the divine gift of horses to mankind, and how horses provide him with
wings. During his account of a campaign on the Hungarian frontier, Evliya portrays
in affectionate detail his horse Hamis, ‘my soul’s companion, my zephyr-swift
steed Hamis’, who is ‘noble as an Arab thoroughbred, dearer to me than my own
brother’. The horse’s loyalty and intelligence loom large in the story, as does the
closely observed interaction between Hamis and a magic ram who may have been
divinely sent to assure their safe passage (see the excellent recent translation into
English by Robert Dankoff and Sooyong Kim, An Ottoman Traveller: Selections
from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi (London: Eland, 2010), pp. 181-89).

The son of a palace goldsmith, Evliya received a courtly education in Istanbul,
became known as a hafez, or reciter of the Qur’an, and was commissioned as a
cavalryman before embarking on his career as a diplomatic representative,
campaign companion, and tax collector. For over forty years he travelled
throughout the Ottoman empire and beyond, journeying as far as Tabriz, the Sea
of Azov, Vienna, Greece, Hungary, Egypt and the Sudan, recording details of
architecture, languages, and customs. Although it is unusual for seventeenth-century travellers to say much about the horses or other animals with which they travelled, Evliya frequently comments on horses and matters of horsemanship. Of particular interest to WAHO supporters will be Evliya’s observations regarding breeds and strains, beginning with a description of Sultan Murad on horseback entering Istanbul in triumph in 1635 after success in a Persian campaign:

“The Sultan was dressed in steel armour, and had a threefold aigrette in his
turban, stuck obliquely on one side in the Persian manner: he was mounted on
a Nogháï steed, followed by seven led horses of the Arab breed, decked out in
embroidered trappings set with jewels. . . The emperor looked with dignity on
both sides of him, like a lion who has seized his prey, and saluted the people as
he went on.”
Translation adapted from Evliya Çelebi [Mehemmed Zilli ibn Dervi ], Narrative of
Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa, in the seventeenth century, trans. Joseph Von
Hammer, 2 vols., 1st vol in 2 parts (London: Printed for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland; Sold by Parbury, Allen, & Co, 1834-1850), 1.i: 181).

Broadcasting his victory over the Safavids, Murad flaunts a turban in the Persian
fashion while riding a Nogay, one of the Turkic breeds of the Central Asian steppe.
He is accompanied by seven led Arabians, gorgeously equipped.
Here we glimpse something of the specificity of the breeds most valued by the
imperial court. The distinction between ‘Turcoman’ (Turkmen, protoAkhal-Teke)
and ‘Arab’ horses made by seventeenth and eighteenth-century European
visitors to the Ottoman domains operates in Evliya’s text also. Imperial military
displays, and many cavalry units, required Turkic-bred stallions who were taller
and up to heavier weights than their Arab counterparts. But it was the küheylan,
or purebred Arabian, who is mentioned most often by Evliya, and who
represented the gold standard of equine value during Evliya’s day. Crucial for the
symbolic self-representation of the Ottomans, who had ruled the Arab provinces
since 1518, küheylans serve as diplomatic gifts, and figure prominently in
ceremony, trade, sport, and the pleasures of the road.

When he describes the Sultan’s horses at grass in the imperial pleasure-park and resort-lodge at Kagithane near Istanbul, Evliya suggests that the imperial stables contain a number of Arab strains:

“When the horses of the Sultan are turned into the fields in the spring for green
food, the master of the horse dwells in this kiosk, where he gives a feast to the
Sultan and presents him with two Arabian blood-horses, for which he receives a
sable pelisse, and ten of his boys are taken into the Imperial harem as pages. It is
a beautiful meadow, where the Arabian horses called küheylan, jilfidan, tureyfi,
ma’nek, musafaha, mahmudi and seylavi are fed on the finest grass, trefoil and
oats. . . . So famous are these meadows of Kagithane, that, if the leanest horse
feed in them for ten days, he will resemble in size and fatness one of the large
elephants of Shah Mahmud (the prince of Gaznevis). The walk of the resort-lodge
of Ka ithane is celebrated all over Turkey, Persia and Arabia. Turkish poets have
praised its beauties in particular poems, called erengiz.” (Adapted from Von
Hammer 1.ii: 85.)

Evliya’s account registers the value of Arab blood horses in the equine
economy alongside practical matters of keep. Evliya’s naming of strains for the
most part coincides with Dr. Hazaim Alwair’s (2007 WAHO Conference,
Damascus, Syria, pp. 74-88). Evliya uses ‘küheylan’ as a generic term for ‘Arab
thoroughbreds’ as well as naming it as a highly prized strain in its own right,
with the substrains Jilfan (jilfidan) and Tureyfi; the strains of Managhi (ma’nek)
and Seglawi (seylavi) likewise remain among the most valuable today. We are
not sure today which strain ‘musafah’ and ‘mahmudi’ refer to and would be
very interested to hear anyone’s opinion on this. It is possible that ‘musafah’
could be a slight mis-spelling of ‘Musannah’, and it is possible that ‘mahmudi’
might refer to a Seglawi substrain belonging to Ibn Mahmoud or Ibn Amoud,
both of the Shammar. Evliya gives us at least grounds for comparison of
seventeenth-century Ottoman terms with today’s.

When in May 1671, Evliya Çelebi, aged 60, set out from Istanbul with 3
companions and 8 servants to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, he set out with
15 ‘küheylans’, the horses he chose for his personal comfort and pleasure. Well
over 300 years later, the Evliya Çelebi Ride Expedition of 2009 pioneered an
itinerary between Istanbul and Kütahya, Evliya’s ancestral city on his father’s
side. The first commercial rides along part of the route occurred in September
2010, with many of the horses used having Arabian blood. This Great Anatolian
Ride covered some 800 miles in 6 weeks, skilfully piloted by Ercihan Dilari of the
Akhal-Teke Horses Centre in Cappadocia. Similar rides are planned for 2011,
and it is also planned to map the routes for walkers. A Guidebook in English to
this first Evliya Çelebi Way cultural route is in preparation for publication in 2011
from Upcountry (Turkey) Ltd.

Given Evliya’s celebration of küheylans, and his extensive travels to Aleppo and
Damascus, a cross-border Cultural Route based upon the itinerary of a Turkey-
Syria Friendship Ride would seem an ideal next step. Any suggestions from WAHO
readers regarding such a project are welcomed.

More information can be found at these websites:

Donna Landry FRAS, WAHO IAM and Professor of English and American Literature
University of Kent

Photo: Iznik, the Great Anatolian Ride,
September 2010. Photographer Susan Wirth.

WAHO OFFICE: Newbarn Farmhouse, Forthampton, Gloucestershire GL19 4QD UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1684-274-455 • Fax: +44 (0) 1684.274.422 • Email: waho@btconnect.com • Website: www.waho.org

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

News of well-attended lecture on the Evliya Çelebi Way in London

The podcast of Caroline's lecture to the joint Royal Asiatic Society-Geographical Club event in London on 6 January is at:
Happy listening.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

2011: Evliya Çelebi anniversary year, and the Evliya Çelebi Way

2011, the year proclaimed by Unesco as a year of celebration of Evliya Çelebi on the 400th anniversary of his birth, has arrived. Our project has gone in unexpected directions, and this year we will continue what we have started in the past two years. Ercihan will again lead equitourists on the Evliya Çelebi Way, as he did in 2010—to sign up, see: www.akhal-tekehorsecenter.com/en/tours/8/great-anatolian-ride.html.

All but unmentioned on this blog has been the pedestrian aspect of the project. The EÇW will be a route for walkers and bikers as well as riders, and in summer 2010 Kate Clow, who set up the now well-trodden Lycian Way long distance path, and Caroline (once with Donna), made several walking expeditions to establish a GPS'ed route in EÇ's tracks that humans—with their fewer legs, and less tolerance for getting lost—can follow. The English version of the guidebook (which includes history of EÇ and of the area) to the EÇW will be out in the spring from Kate's Upcountry (Turkey) publishing company, in series with her other books (www.lycianway.com). The Municipality of the city of Bursa, one of EÇ's destinations, will publish the Turkish version.

The EÇW project is now working with Bursa Municipality towards establishing a further leg of EÇ's travels as a riding, walking, biking route. This will follow EÇ's 1659 itinerary in the region, beginning in Bursa and heading west to the Dardanelles. Ideally this route will then cross the Dardanelles, and run up the Gallipoli peninsula to meet the Via Egnatia in Thrace. Kate and Caroline (and any who want to join us) intend to walk this new route in stages in 2011, and Ercihan will lead an exploratory Ride as he did in 2009. A second guidebook will result.
The EÇW has taken on a new life, as an essential link in the cross-European cultural route that the European Institute of Cultural Routes hopes to create, to Jerusalem and beyond, to Mecca. We, and other creators of cultural routes in Turkey, are engaged in discussion with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism about how best to activate the Turkish routes established by us and similarly obsessed individuals. It has always been the hope of the EÇW team that a predictable, GPS'ed route would result, in order that modern travellers can find food and lodging in villages along the way, and the villagers thereby profit. The EÇW is also, like other non-motorised cultural routes in Turkey, a sustainable route, and the Ministry is recognising its merits.

Some events:
Caroline will give a lecture on the EÇW in London on 6th January: www.royalasiaticsociety.org/site/?q=taxonomy/term/2;
Mac and Donna and Caroline are on an EÇ panel at Şehir University, Istanbul on 23rd February;
Under the auspices of the British Council, Caroline is talking about EÇ, and the Ottomans in Europe, at various Turkish universities—Dumlupınar University, Kütahya is done; Gaziantep University is scheduled for 17 February; more dates to follow.

May your Evliya Çelebi anniversary year be full of good things; we await you on the Way, whatever your means of (sustainable) locomotion.