Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Turkey Day 7: Derbe and Tarsus

Turkey in 10 Days
1. General Remarks
2. What to Bring
3. Day 1: Traveling There
4. Day 2: Troy
5. Day 3: Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna 
6. Day 4: Ephesus and Laodicea
7. Day 5: Colossae and Perga
8. Day 6: Galatia: Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra

9. Day 7: Derbe and Tarsus
Wednesday morning came.  The 4am call to prayer was striking to me, seemed very minor chord-ish.  I thought I'd take a picture of the breakfast spread:

Standard Turkish hotel breakfast
Here's our standard fare:

Breakfast plate

So after breakfast, we left the Bayrakci Hotel to find Derbe.  Karaman isn't too big.  From where we were, it was a quick left turn and a couple blocks back to 350 headed east.

After years of Derbe being unmarked and books saying its location was uncertain, it was super easy to find.  About 10 kilometers east of Karaman there are signs pointing north (left turn).  Actually there are a couple ways to do it.  We caught a sign facing the other direction and felt ourselves clever to find it that way. But I suspect there was another sign facing our direction just a little further that would have been more of a straight shot (that's how we came back out).

Basically, you're looking for the village of Suduraği.  It's north of it.  The tel is about 3 kilometers north of Ekinözü (latitude N37° 20.741; longitude E033° 21.709).  All in all it's about 95 kilometers southeast of the Lystra tel.

Derbe tel

There is the odd stone here and there.  Keith and Ross didn't go up to the top because we got into some serious stickers at Lystra and they didn't want a repeat.  In fact, with a bit of flair, Memesh had thrown his socks into the fire over which the tea water was boiling at Lystra, to the consternation of his wife.

Ross' shoes after Lystra
Here's looking down at Keith and Ross from the top of the mound.

Derbe looking down
Derbe peeking through

It's hard to imagine but this entire area, now farm as far as the eye can see, was once perhaps a square kilometer of marble and stone city.

After Derbe we were back to 350 headed east.  It's about 250 kilometers to Tarsus so it was largely a day of driving just to say we had been to Paul's birthplace.  If we had wanted, we could have gone from there another 200 kilometers to where Syrian Antioch was at the time of Paul.  It is actually in Turkey today, not modern Syria. We forewent that trip mostly because of the violence in nearby Syria, but it would have been 4 extra hours of driving too to see very little.  I hope to get there one day.

It probably wouldn't be worth taking a tour bus of people to Tarsus just to say you went.  In fact, if a group wasn't interested in the whirling dervishes of Konya, you could stop a Paul tour at the site at Pisidian Antioch in Yalvach.  From Yalvach on it increasingly becomes a lot of driving with little pay off unless you like mounds in the middle of the countryside.

Cappadocia, where our Wednesday ended, would be of interest to a lot of people.  It would be on the "Disneyland" version of the tour.  But as you'll see tomorrow, getting there left us with a whole day that was pretty much just driving to get back to Istanbul.

To get to Tarsus from Derbe, continue heading east on 350 till you get to Ereğli and join 330.  Continue east until you hit 750 south.  Now you have a choice.  Is it enough just to see the Taurus Mountains in the distance?

Taurus Mountains

By the way, you will find yourself on a marvelous new highway that has replaced the earlier road.  I'm not sure if it actually goes through the Cilician Gates Paul would have gone through.

Cilician Gates (not seen)

I think you'll have to get off the highway onto the older 750 to go through Gulek to go through them.  I think I spotted them off to the right of the highway going south, but wasn't fast enough with the cell phone to snap a picture.

So we went on down to Tarsus.  If I had been by myself I would have tried to see some of the old city, but on Day 7 we were happy just to see what was what was left of the Cyndus River of Paul's day.

Cyndus River

We followed Adana Road to a modern mall (with the security needed against anti-secularists in Turkey) and had a very nice lunch.

If we had wanted to see ruins and the old city, we would have taken the highway south a smidge farther till it hit 400 going west (right direction).  The ruins, including Cleopatra's Gate (which probably has nothing to do with Cleopatra), are on the southwest side of town, I think just south of where 400 comes into town.

Tarsus ruins (not seen)

To Cappadocia
So a Doner Kebab and a trip to the restroom involving a hallway of body twisting mirrors, we were back heading north toward Cappadocia on 750.  I'll save the pictures of Cappadocia for tomorrow.  It was 240 kilometers north to Aksaray, then 300 east another 75 kilometers to Nevshehir.

Our hotel was in a great location.

Hotel Nisa in Cappadocia

There was an inner room with a double bed and an outer room of glass with bunk beds and a nice place to sit, read, and look out on the world.  There was a wonderful baklava shop with a very friendly owner just one street behind.  We got there in good time and were able to relax for the evening, even go for a walkabout.


Keith Drury said...

Next time you go you can see the ruins in Tarsus... or if you go clockwise the group won't be so tired and ready to go home .

Ken Schenck said...

At some point a group gets "ruined." :-) I think most of us were mostly done after Pisidian Antioch. From then on it was fumes to get to the airport, although I did enjoy Cappadocia, Nicaea, and Istanbul.

Ken Schenck said...

BTW, it was in Tarsus that it really came home to me that there is a clash of civilizations in Turkey, and the riots going on right now in Istanbul are a very concrete example. It is not a conflict between Christianity and Islam. It is a conflict between the modern age and a premodern past. It is a conflict between secularism and religious fundamentalism.

It is at least worth a moment of self-reflection to realize that if this were in America, most in my circles would be cheering on the fundamentalists. The main difference is the name of the religion.