Tuesday, 12 June 2012


The weather forcast for the next 4 days is 37 degrees so it was an early start this morning, about 7.15, with the plan being to have an early stop before it got too hot.

Out of Urgup on the road we rode in on two days ago, with the plan being to visit two 12th century silk road caravanserais this morning. Caravanserais were a sophisticated version of todays truck stops. Camel caravans and other travellers could stay overnight in the semi-fortified building where their precious silks and spices  would be safe from bandits and they could get food and drink, their animals attended to, harness repaired and medical attention if needed. Expenses for construction and maintenance were paid by the sultan who levied a tax on the goods that passed through. They were built roughly one day's travel apart, 15 to 30 km depending on the terrain.

The first was at Agzikarahan. It was locked up and under repair but I had read somewhere that it is almost unique in that the mosque instead of being either inside, or more commonly immediately outside the entrance, was offset to one side. When I stood at the door I could maybe see the reason why, from the door there is a magnificent view of the snow capped mountain we saw a couple of days ago, so perhaps it was simply a case of aesthetics over religion.

The second was at Sultanhani, 200 metres off the current highway in the middle of the small town. It was constructed in 1229 by the Seljuk sultan Alaadin Keykubad 1 and restored in 1278 after a fire, when it became Turkey's largest. There are two main areas, one open to the sky and ringed by rooms that were used for sleeping, cooking and dining, and beyond that, a domed roofed area of the same size that was used mainly in winter and also housed the animals. The raised mescit or prayer room is in the centre of the open area. The atmosphere in the building was amazing. It was possible to imagine exactly what it was like nearly 800 years ago.

By 1.30 pm after riding across mainly limestone planes with the occasional small town, skirting the city of Konya, and crossing a few ranges of grassy treeless hills, we had reached the town of Seydisehir, a nondescript town with a the country's only aluminium smelter as it's claim to fame. The temperature was now 38 degrees according to a neon sign, so we checked into an equally nondescript hotel and have retreated into our air-conditioned room.

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