Amasya To Tokat
The region Yeşilırmak runs through rightfully deserves the title “cradle of civilizations” with water basins that have nurtured the fertile soils for thousands of years and the sea. Yeşilırmak… It is referred to as “Iris” in Ancient philosopher and historian Strabon’s works. It rises in the foots of Kösedağ on Sivas border and flows into Black Sea. That river which takes a lament from an orphan's mouth and leaves it in another town, for many years on Anatolian lands. It flows with the excitement of weddings during harvest season and brings them to another country. It is as if a historical journey takes place on Yeşilırmak. Amasya is the first city that appears in mind when Yeşilırmak is mentioned. One must go back thousands of years to narrate Amasya's story. It is surrounded by mountains as if guarded by a natural fortress. King tombs on the mountains indicate that the kings also lived in this safe area. Amasya later became a Seljuk and Ottoman city in this secure and fertile flatland nurtured by the river. Today, Amasya is an open-air museum as numerous artefacts dating back to ancient civilizations still stand.
CITY OF PRINCES
Amasya enriched with the legacy of numerous civilizations throughout the history, was a healing centre for many years with its hospital that raised tens of prominent medical scientists. It became known as the city where princes were raised and which shaped the future of this great empire. Yıldırım Bayezid (Bayezid I), Mehmed I, Murat II, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror (Mehmed II), Bayezid II, Selim I and Murat II studied in Amasya. These princes had numerous works built in Amasya both because they took interest in the region and followed state matters. Today there is a giant library in Amasya where a good number of rare manuscripts are preserved. It is possible to find tens of works from Anatolian Beyliks period (before the Ottoman period) to Republic of Turkey in this precious building. Yeşilırmak also gives life to legendary romances. The love of Ferhat and Şirin blossomed here. Ferhat's love, who dug through mountains around Amasya to rejoin with his beloved, was heard from neighbouring city Tokat. So that Yeşilırmak does not only carry water but it carries poetry, myths, civilization from these lands to the world...
Tokat is an impressive area of diverse richness between Central Anatolia and the Black Sea. Its location off the beaten track makes its just waiting to be explored hidden treasures even more alluring. Spellbinding natural beauty combined with remnants of the civilizations large and small that left cultural traces in these lands make for several possible touristic routes around the province. The city adorn numerous mosques, historical builgings and madrasas. Gök Madrasa, the Great (Ulu) Mosque, Yağıbasan Madrasa, Takyeciler Mosque, Mevlevi Lodge, Vizier Ahmet Pasha Masjid, the the Şeyh Meknun Mission and dozens of early Islamic religious structures are a few of the places you can visit. The city is a virtual open air museum as well with Tokat Museum, historic castles and bridges, and Halit Sokağı, a street that preserves its original architectural fabric. In short, a world of discovery filled with nature and culture awaits you in Tokat, the crossroads of Anatolia.
TRACES OF DRACULA
The traces of Count Vlad known as “Count Dracula” were discovered in the hidden passage leading to Pervane Bathhouse in the city center, during the restoration conducted in Tokat Castle. Numerous remains dating back to the Seljuk and Ottoman periods have been unearthed during the restoration in Tokat Castle, conducted by the Tokat Governorship and Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism. The bastions of the castle used for defense, were consolidated and excavations were launched around the castle. Two secret passages leading to Pervane Bathhouse and two dungeons were discovered in the digs. It is speculated that Prince of Wallachia, Vlad the Third who lived between years 1431-1476 was held captive in one of the dungeons. Captured by the Ottoman in the period of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror and referred to as Count Dracula, the prince is rumored to have stayed for two years in the dungeon in Tokat Castle. Archaeologist İbrahim Çetin gave the following information on excavations: “It is difficult to guess precisely in which room Dracula stayed but it is thought to be in the area. We think these are dungeons because there are structures built as lodges on the left.”
* Kaz, Zinav and Almus Dams around this city watered by the Yeşilırmak River afford spectacular views. Tokat is also rich in upland plateaus, and nature’s colorful rainbow enhances the crystal clear air of the Selemen, Batmantaş, Dumanlı and Çamiçi Highlands.
* A dying art today, glazed Tokat ceramics, mainly in tones of green, are still made in various workshops around the city.
* The star of the local cuisine is Tokat kebab. Besides Tokat sausage, which is encased in a special sort of cloth, is another of the city’s unique culinary treats.
* Stay at Dedeman Tokat Hotel to enjoy this route properly. www.dedeman.com
Engi̇n Günaydın’s Tokat
Engin Günaydın captured The Award of Best Actor in The 31st Istanbul International Film Festival. I asked him about Tokat, where he was born and raised.
You’ve said of Erbaa (in Turkey’s north central province of Tokat) that its sun is like milk. What else about it is beautiful?
“Erbaa is a 500-year-old town. Its culture dates way back. It also boasts the region’s most fertile soil. Its air is very clean. And the sun is like milk. When the weather is good, it’s nice to eat ‘bat’ at dusk (‘bat’ is a dish of vine leaves stuffed with a mixture of green lentils, walnuts and herbs).”
Can you tell us about Lake Düden where you went for a picnic in the film “Vavien”, which was shot in Tokat?
“Sometimes people have nice dreams. And sometimes they dream of beautiful landscapes. Lake Düden is like the landscape of my dreams. I went on many picnics there with my family. I even took my first photographs of my family there. They looked so beautiful that I said to myself, What a lovely family I have! Everything was truly beautiful.”
What would you recommend to people going to Tokat?
“The people of Tokat love to have fun. They like everybody who is good-humored. So, go there when you are in a good mood. Do whatever you like, but enjoy yourself.”
The interview is taken from the book of “50 Routes with 50 Celebrities” (Mona Publishing, 2016) by Melih Uslu.
Travel Writer, Managing Editor of FOOD and TRAVEL Turkey Magazine,
Member of Grand Jury, Hürriyet Seyahat (Travel) Newspaper