In the bleakest of circumstances, when all hope seems gone and all the obvious ways to attain one’s goals have proved fruitless, a determined traveler never gives up. So if the fare is too expensive or local buses don’t run during that season or the place is too far away to walk to, or whatever the hindrance you may encounter along your journey, there are always – always – last resorts. In my experience in traveling and backpacking around Turkey, I have realized the usefulness of being able to hitchhike short distances, and have frequently leaned upon this resort in many situations where alternative methods of getting around were too expensive or at least unnecessarily costly for me as a student.
Most recently, amid the tedium of the last few weeks, which were mostly clouded by the ongoing process of applying for graduate programs and juggling midterms and projects – though briefly enlightened by the inevitable short weekend getaways that were too difficult to resist – I had to utilize the one absolutely free weekend I was going to get before the next, incredibly busy one, where I would be spending most of my time glued to the laptop, hung up on the all-too-familiar scholarship and college websites.
Wanting to spend the maximum amount of time I could in another city, along with my boyfriend I decided upon Eskişehir, which really needs no introduction. I had been there once a few years ago, but this time I didn’t want to go to just the typical spots that attract tourists – I had another place in mind. Anyone who knows me knows I have a weakness for historical landmarks, especially in Turkey, and can’t resist the temptation to visit one if it’s close by. In this case, my heart was set on visiting the Midas monument that lay secluded in Yazılıkaya, about an hour’s drive away from Eskişehir. There was only a small problem that stood in the way: we didn’t have a car, and to our dismay, the minibuses that normally go to Yazılıkaya were not running because it was the off-season for tourism.
Never wanting to take no for an answer, especially when when I had already gotten so excited about the visit, we began thinking of other ways to get there. The closest town that buses ran to was Seyitgazi. It’s a small place, but we found that it nonetheless boasts an incredible historical landmark of its own, much to our joy. It had not been part of our plan, but we ended up heading to the Seyitgazi türbesi, a külliye (an Ottoman term for a complex of buildings and structures centered on a mosque) dedicated to the Muslim war hero Battal Gazi. The town itself sits upon a Byzantine site, below the hill that the giant structure, looking almost like a palace, occupies. Walking into the türbesi, we realized just how huge the building was; it had a very complex structure of rooms, halls and courtyards where various periods of history had left their mark.
After exploring the area for a bit, we headed to the site that was our main reason for being there, that is, the Midas monument. We had been warned that at this time of the year it would be difficult to find many cars going to the area, and so it might be risky to take our chances. However, not having come all the way for nothing, we decided to give it a shot. It was easy to go halfway to Yazılıkaya, to a small town that lay in between it and Seyitgazi, but not many people seemed to be going farther than that. After a discouraging 40 minutes spent to trying to hitchhike, we decided that if nothing happened, we would simply return the way we had come. Lo and behold, there came a party of bikers, educated and respectable older men who stopped to ask for directions to Yazılıkaya. They told us they enjoyed riding motorcycles and exploring the historical Anatolian lands in their free time, and offered us a ride when they found out we were also headed to Yazılıkaya. So, by good fortune, we ended up finding our ride there and back in just one go.
The Midas monument itself was beautiful. A Phrygian structure, it is carved out of rock; close by are other, smaller rock tombs from Hellenistic and Byzantine times, accounting for the name of the site, Yazılıkaya, which literally means “inscribed rock.” (It should be noted that this Yazılıkaya is different from the Yazılıkaya that bears Hittite history similarly embedded in rock; the latter is near Hattusa, in Çorum province.) Towering over us, with the inscriptions in the rock of the mountain enhanced by the rays of the sun that fell directly on them, its sheer splendor amazed me.
Overall, the site is well worth seeing if you happen to be close by; you would need to stay at least two hours to enjoy it properly. If you have a car, it’s all the easier to get there from Eskişehir, but if not, your best bet is to go later in the spring, when the weather improves and tourist season begins, so that buses are available. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you might try to hitchhike there as well. Whichever way, it’s a sight worth seeing and an adventure worth having! As for me, a new adventure lies in wait this weekend, as I travel to the beautiful and exciting city of Kars.