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Jul 192013

Kusadasi Panoramic View of the City

Being a photographer, what I love most about traveling is wandering the old neighborhoods and back alleys of some exotic locale. Turkey offers this in spades with the added benefit of safety. I have not felt unsafe for a minute.

Unfortunately for photography, the government is pushing urban renewal. The slums are fast disappearing. Developers are given government land in exchange for building modern apartments that are given to those whose houses are then bulldozed.

The slums of Kusadasi

Yes, I said given. The developers turn their profit on the additional condos that can be sold. This enlightened approach is transforming Turkish cities and the lives of the poor.

The coastal Aegean city of Kuşadası is a prime example. Kuşadası is the bedroom for tours visiting the ancient and cosmopolitan, biblical city of Ephesus.  http://dreamcatcherseminars.com/2010/10/13/from-the-ruins-of-ephesus-to-the-mediterranean-beauty-of-antalya/    Four and five star hotels dominate its headlands and coves. The azure waters of the Aegean washes lazily at their rocky foundations.

Kusadasi Hotel swimming pool

Kusadasi, Turkey Fisherman rowing boat

Kusadasi, Turkey Fish Market

Kusadasi Harbor

The city’s waterfront, pedestrian plaza is evidence of the urban transformation. New sculptures, restaurants and playgrounds follow the sweep of the city’s bay which terminates in a slum encrusted hill at its south end.

Wandering the steep lanes and narrow alleys of this poor neighborhood, I find old, Ottoman houses in various states of decay. Children play hopscotch in the cobblestone lanes while a man on his balcony proudly displays his prize fighting rooster. Observing this is an elderly grandmother safeguarding the neighborhood from her rooftop perch.


Kusadasi street

Kusadasi Man with Fighting Cock

Kusadasi Old women watching her neighborhood

Turks are invariably friendly and eager to help. Several stop to talk as I wander, some offering me cookies and fruit juice.

Kusadasi, Turkey Girl

Kusadasi, Turkey bearded man

The tree-filled park crowning the hill provides a panoramic view. Urban renewal is evident in the new, multi-colored apartment buildings stacked upon the surrounding hills.

Kusadasi, Turkey park with children

Kusadasi, Turkey Panorama

Rooftop, solar hot water installations are ubiquitous. With Turkey’s lack of petroleum resources, it makes sense to use the abundant sunshine.

Kusadasi, Turkey Solar hot water installation

Turkey’s enlightened attitude influences not just urban renewal and energy use but extends into infrastructure, education, social security and health care.

The country is investing in their future with new roads, bridges and communications access. Education is mandatory and free. Win entrance to college and the government picks up the tab. Everyone has access to free, quality health care, and government retirement benefits are generous.

Kusadasi, Turkey men talking

Kusadasi, Turkey Man selling vegetables

This hasn’t always been the norm. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922 brought frequent upheavals over the following decades. Since the Turks embraced democracy and modernization, there has been a steady rise in prosperity and stability.

Kusadasi, Turkey Ad for modern apartment

Kusadasi. Turkey  panorama at night

Moving east into Western Anatolia, the fertile Menderes River Valley reminds me of California’s enormous central valley in miniature; a long, broad, agricultural valley bordered on one side by hills and low mountains and on the other by magnificent, snow-covered peaks.

After several hours traversing the valley, a white scar becomes evident along a bench on the northern mountains. This is the national park of Pamukkale, or Cotton Castle, one of Turkey’s major tourist destinations.

Drawing closer, the enormous size of the majestic, travertine cliffs becomes apparent. Think Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone on a truly mammoth scale. The brilliant, white formation is a mile and half long and over five hundred feet high. People have bathed in its terraced pools for thousands of years.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Panukkale, Turkey Hot Springs

Pamukkale, Turkey Hot springs bathers

The ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis sits on a broad bench of ancient travertine behind the cliffs. Green hills sprinkled with crimson poppies rise behind the ruins. Hierapolis must have been a magnificent city in a spectacular setting. People from around the Roman world came to take the cure and many, to die. A vast Necropolis of tombs and sarcophagi lies west of the reconstructed ruins.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

The modern spa and hot springs allow visitors to partake of the ancient waters amid a lush oasis. Columns and pedestals of the long dead civilization provide resting places for those enjoying the healing waters.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

The more I explore Turkey, the more impressive it becomes. Coming from a country with a historical perspective of only a few hundred years, it is difficult to imagine the viewpoint of a Turk.

America has known only two civilizations in 1,000 years of history. The Anatolian Peninsula has known 623 years of Ottoman civilization preceded by the rise and fall of numerous civilizations over some 8,000 years, back to the very dawn of history. This must influence their outlook.

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Pamukkale, Turkey Hieropolis Roman Ruins

Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging


Also check out my photography tutorials at:  http://dreamcatcherimaging.blogspot.com

Jul 032013

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At the intersection of legend and history.

Few regions in the world have held such hold on the collective psyche as the northern stretch of Turkey’s Aegean coast. Think Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan wars, the Biblical city of Smyrna and more recently, Gallipoli a name held in reverence by both Turks Aussies and Kiwis. And how about the dwelling place of Satan?

Driving west along the Sea of Marmara from the megacity of Istanbul, the housing developments thin out and rich, rolling farmland dominates.

After two hours, low mountains appear with quiet, blue lakes nestled within their verdant valleys. Turning southwest toward Gallipoli, the long, narrow peninsula which protects the legendary Dardanelles Strait from the Aegean, rolling hills and small plains are filled with blossoming orchards surrounded by rice paddies and fields with emerging artichokes and strawberries.

Gallipoli Harbor

We arrive at the port of Gallipoli, Galibolu in Turkish, the major transit point south across the narrow and dangerous thirty-eight mile long Dardanelles. Known to history as the Hellespont, it allows passage between the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Here, as in Istanbul, a narrow strait separates Europe from Asia.

While awaiting the ferry, we wander the small, double harbor where the fishing fleet lies at anchor. Fisherman patch nets while others sit upon the many bags of nets strewn about the stone wharf talking and smoking.

Gallipoli Fisherman Mending Nets

Gallipoli Harbor Boats

Loading the ferry, a blustery breeze stirs the choppy waters of the strait. The three mile crossing takes thirty minutes and, after disembarking, we head toward perhaps the most legendary city on the planet, Troy. Looking across the strait as we drive the forty-five minutes southwest, monuments to the WW I battles of Gallipoli appear on the opposite shore.

These battles between the Ottoman army and the ANZAC forces of Australia and New Zealand, have become legend. The Ottomans, allied with Germany and led by Colonel Mustafa Kemal, held back an intense assault over many months. Defeat would have given the allies access to the Black Sea and supply routes to Russia. Brutal fighting cost over four hundred thousand casualties.

Mustafa Kemal gained fame here and later passed into legend as Atatürk, the father of modern Turkey. Every April 25th, tens of thousand Aussies and Kiwis, descendants of the ANZAC troops, come from afar to honor their memory at a sunrise service.

Coming to the turnoff to Troy, a 5 km road leads west through fertile farmland to the archaeological site.

Troy and the Dardenelles

Ruins of legendary Troy hold their silent sentinel over the now silted bay that made the city wealthy.

  Troy disappeared from history sometime after the 4th century CE. Historians were not certain whether it had existed or was simply a legend. Heinrich Schliemann, a German businessman who had made his money in the gold fields of California, became obsessed with discovering Troy. He read every account he could find and finally determined the location before digging a long, wide trench down to bedrock. His initial trench revealed at least nine levels of habitation, growth and destruction.


Showing the nine layers of habitation between 3000 BCE and 100 BCE found while excavating the city.



  Salih, our excellent, venerable guide.

The city had been on a large bay at the mouth of the Hellespont. The bay has silted up over the centuries. Ships passing the strait can be seen from the ruins across several miles of lush, flat farmland. Troy became rich collecting anchorage fees from the ships waiting in their harbor for the infrequent favorable winds that would allow them to pass the strait.

Canakkale Waterfront


We spend the night in Çanakkale, a vibrant, modern city on the Dardanelles. It is Sunday evening, an hour before sunset. Strolling families and couples fill the wide pedestrian mall lining the waterfront. The huge Trojan horse from the 2004 movie stands proudly on the mall.

Canakkale Waterfront

Trojan Horse Canakklale Turkey

Canakkale Turkey Night

The brightly lit minaret of a waterfront mosque is a focus of the lively city of Çanakkale.

 The following morning, we head south to the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon and, according to the Book of Revelation, the dwelling place of Satan. The acropolis, with its theaters, temples and the second finest library in the ancient world, rises 1,000 feet above the river plain. The magnificent, reconstructed Altar of Zeus, likely thought of as the throne of Satan, has it’s own room in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Unfortunately, the acropolis is closed for major reconstruction, but wandering the Aesklepion, one of the major Roman centers of healing, offers a taste of the architectural splendor of an ancient spa. Legends come to life and are made in this fertile coastal region of Turkey. And how could they not after 5,000 years of human habitation.

Asclepium Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Ruins of the ancient Sanctuary of Asclepius, the god of healing, testify to the magnificence of an ancient Roman spa.

Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Pergamon Bergama Turkey

Country life in the shadow of the acropolis of Pergamon.

Copyright 2013 Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging