Oct 072016
 

October 2016

This is really an adjunct to the post on Safranbolu. The town of Yörük Köyü is just a few miles outside of Safranbolu, but has not been restored.  This gives one an excellent chance to see what is underneath the plaster finishes of a completed Ottoman House.  This post will just be photographs, if you are interested in learning more, please read the post on Safranbolu.

 Yörük Köyü

This was one of the taller houses in Yörük Köyü

 Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü *Safranbolu, Turkey* Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü * Yörük Köyü

Oct 062016
 

October 6, 2016

Safranbolu, TurkeyIn researching about the homes of Safranbolu I came across the Gülevi Safranbolu dissertation on the history, preservation and future of Safranbolu. It is a text worthy of a thesis, and difficult to absorb without having a full understanding of the area. I found it to be a necessary piece of writing, and one that should be heeded in this changing time of Turkey and its heritage. In this post I am going to attempt to condense the article, pull out what would be of interest to my readers, and attach photographs to help tell the story. If you are interested in reading the full report, which I highly suggest, you can find it here.

Safranbolu, TurkeySafranbolu is not a solely Ottoman city. It is said to have a cultural heritage that dates back at least 7500 years.

The town was once a wealthy trading town, it was known for its Saffron fields, which is where it got its name.

There are three parts to Safranbolu; the first is Çarşı which is the only area that I visited and the area of which this entire post is going to be about. The others include Bağlar, which displays the Seljuk – Ottoman continuity of architecture, and Kıranköy, which displays Roman-Byzantine-Ottoman continuity of architecture.

The structures that are referred to as Ottoman konaks (mansions) and the structures that I will be showing you are, today actually heritage structures with construction systems dating back to the Hittites.

Safranbolu, TurkeyThe Hellenic Greeks (first millennium BC) called the region where Safranbolu is located, Paphlagonia. Homer mentions the Paphlagonians, when describing the Anatolian peoples who went to help Troy.

In his “Book of Travels”, Ibni Batuta who spent a night in Safranbolu in 1334 wrote about Safranbolu saying, “A small town built on a hill. There is a trench at the foot of the hill. At the summit there is a citadel. We spent the night at a madrasa there.”

While there are not specific Seljuk buildings left in today’s Safranbolu, its layout is typical of a Seljukid City. This means the housing region is formed with dead-end streets, the town is established on a slope, there is no structured street system with squares and all industry can be found at the point where water leaves the city. This makes the city, even with map in hand, absolutely impossible to navigate.

When visiting it is really important to remember that getting lost is the norm. The town is small enough one never actually gets lost; you simply trip over a new street and a new adventure. But when someone hands you a map in Safranbolu, take it with a very, very big grain of salt.

Yemeni Shoes of TurkeyOne of Safranbolu’s past economic activities was leather processing and production of leather goods. There were over 80 tanneries at the edge of town at one time. Safranbolu had artisanal shops spread over the city creating high quality yemeni (light, flat-heeled shoes), saddles and other common leather goods. For those that know this author, yes, I purchased two pair of Yemeni shoes.

Meat processing was also an important source of livelihood as a by-product related to the tanneries.

At one time there was a weaving culture in Safranbolu with over 350 working looms as late as the 1920s.

Looking down onto the Caravansary

Looking down onto the Caravansary

Today there are only two of the original economic trades remaining. Cinci Han which is the caravansary, now converted to a hotel and café, and one loan gentleman making shoes.

Safranbolu Houses

While the exteriors of the houses throughout Safranbolu look very similar, there are actually three different types of homes. The winter houses in the Çarşı (Marketplace) district, summerhouses in the Bağlar (Vineyards) district and the Greek Orthodox houses in the Kıranköy district., I am only going to discuss the houses of Çarşı, as that is the only area that I explored.

Looking down from one of the hillsides into the center of town

Looking down from one of the hillsides into the center of town

The Çarşı houses mainly belong to the Muslim community, and their functionality shows this. Originally there were specific rooms for women and turnstile type serving niches so women did not mingle with men during meal times. These houses also have no ground floor workshops or artisanal spaces. It is believed that the few houses with these features once belonged to the Greek-Orthodox citizens.

The shelf the three dishes sit on turns so that the food can be placed here and spun to the room with men.

The shelf the three dishes sit on turns so that the food can be placed here by women and then spun to the face the room with men.

The Çarşı area of Safranbolu sits in a very, very narrow canyon. The houses in the district are located on the slope. The soil of this area is barren and not suitable for growing plants, so soil was carried in by camels and oxcarts and placed into plots held back by rock retaining walls.

An excellent example of a properly restored Safranbolu house. The wall to the left envelops the garden

An excellent example of a properly restored Safranbolu house. The wall to the left envelops the garden

The houses are built on rubble stonewalls adapted to the slope and usually have one façade on the street. It limits the relationship with the street on the ground floor so that, walls on the street side continue as high garden walls and provide full privacy.

Until the 18th century Safranbolu was a settlement of mud filled wooden frame houses over rubble stonewalls placed on the slope of the canyon. The vernacular architecture (architecture without architects) of Safranbolu is entirely made of local materials.

The rubble walls are constructed with clay mortar and little stone pieces called “çivilik”, hammered into gaps between large stones and wooden beams, that are called “sar,” The floors above the ground floor are supported by a wooden frame made of yellow pine timbers and a few black pine timbers. No wooden joints are used, they are all made with wrought iron nails, an important feature since Safranbolu sits of the North Anatolian Fault.

Chimneys of SafranboluThe chimneys are placed atop these stonewalls helping to increase the resistance of the building to lateral forces especially during earthquakes.

The wooden frame is generally filled with puddled clay and sometimes with wooden pieces. In later years, the wooden frame was filled with pieces of stone and lime mortar between framework timbers nailed from inside and outside on the wooden frame. This application is called “çakatura”.

The clay roof of the local Hammam

The clay roof of the local Hammam

The roof of the Safranbolu house was covered with wooden boards called “pedavra” until the 19th century. After a big neighborhood fire, tile-kilns were opened in the region by the order of Abdurrahman Paşa, the governor of Kastamonu of the period, now all roofs are tile.

Glass in windows was not used until the 19th century. During extreme weather the “kara-kapak”s (shutters) were kept closed.

A restored Musbak

A restored muşabak

Originally there would have been muşabaks (lattice windows) so that the women could look out without being seen. These were removed during the formation of the Republic, when many laws were enacted to help bring Turkey into the 20th century.

The ornamental wooden ceilings of the houses can be found in most every room

The ornamental wooden ceilings of the houses can be found in most every room

Safranbolu started to change after World War I, while the town was not really affected by the War of Independence it was responsible for making shoes for the soldiers. The tanneries died out after these shoes were necessary.

Caravan operations that were the most important economic function of Safranbolu lost all of their importance with the completion of the Gerede-Safranbolu Highway in the 1950s

During the population exchange of the 1920s, the Greek-Orthodox community moved to Greece and Muslims from Rhodes were moved into this area. Most of the people that came to settle in Safranbolu at the time were not happy with the environment and left almost immediately.

Shutters help regulate the extreme temperatures of this area.

Shutters help regulate the extreme temperatures of this area.

According to the first census conducted in 1927 the population of Safranbolu was 5,218. Safranbolu continued to loose its population into the 1930s with wealthy notables of Safranbolu, who had sold their land to the government, migrated to Istanbul. The population decreased even more in the 1940s, when only elderly couples that could not leave Safranbolu and their daughters who were still single remained in the town. The population today is 31,697.

Just one of many dead-end streets that make up Safranbolu

Just one of many dead-end streets that make up Safranbolu.  This is the Arasta or Ottoman Market Hall, now a shopping area, not quite open for business when I took this photo.

In June of 1975, the Safranbolu Town Council declared that, “…all restorations and alterations considered should be made as restorations that do not damage the old architecture, especially at the town center…” It took many years, and many conferences and meetings, but after concerted effort by many organizations Safranbolu became a cultural heritage site. There is a movie shown at the Kaymakamlar House Museum of the 1970s, the photos, in black and white, show a deserted town that would resemble any ghost town of America’s wild west.

SafranboluSafranbolu was made a UNESCO world heritage site in 1994, also putting it on every tourists list.

Tourism has not been very kind to the area. It is said that the average stay of most people is 1.65 days. This is about what we are spending here, and truth be told, it is really all that you need. The government has tried to diversify tourism hoping to spread it out equally through the week and months but have not been successful.

One of the most important reasons for Safranbolu being on the UNESCO World Heritage List is the fact that it is “a Living City” under serious threat. Unfortunately today, even though almost 27 million TL have been spent to restore about 90 historical houses, they are all being operated as hotels. We are in fact staying in one, the Kahveciler Konaği. It is stunning, and gives you a wonderful feel for how the people of the past actually lived, however, I understand many are not restored to this caliber, and in fact are cheaply done with no real historical sense.

There are really only two handicrafts still maintained in Safranbolu one is shoemaking; it is being kept alive by a single shoemaker. The other is copper and tin working.  There is an entire area with shops dedicated to this art.

This gentlemen was happy to show his craftsmanship at making the beautiful locks you find around town.

This gentlemen was happy to show his craftsmanship at making the beautiful locks you find around town.

A coppersmith decorating one of the many trays you will find for purchase in the area.

A coppersmith decorating one of the many trays you will find for purchase in the area.

Apparently the making of these “model houses” emerged in the 1990s and became “commodities” that were transformed into poor quality kitsch objects that were copies of copies. If you so desire, you can buy them filled with Turkish Delight, the one thing that is sold absolutely everywhere in this town.

houses of SafranboluUnfortunately, a good heritage area for a tourist may not always be good for the heritage area itself. Especially, as seems to be the case here in Safranbolu, where restorations and services are being shaped according to the wishes and tastes of insensible tourists.

The population of the Çarşı District is aging rapidly. The family heads who are mostly retired complain that the young family members do not want to live in the Çarşı district. The owners of the houses do not have the economic where-with-all to restore the houses. It will be interesting, especially with the falling tourism that has recently occurred, how this town will fare in the future.

Wandering and Exploring the town of Safranbolu

The front of the Old City Hall Mansion

The front of the Old City Hall Mansion

This “mansion” was built by the Kastamonu Regional Governor, Enis Pasha in 1906.  The building was used as a Military, Civilian and Judicial Management Center.

The back of the building shows how very different the architecture was. This would have been due to the fact that it was built in the early 20th century.

The back of the building shows how very different the architecture was. This would have been due to the fact that it was built in the early 20th century.

Behind the City History Museum is the Clock Tower. Built in 1797 is was a gift to the town by the Grand Vizer of Selim.

Behind the City History Museum is the Clock Tower. Built in 1797 it was a gift to the town by the Grand Vizer of Selim.

On this same hill as the City History Museum and the Clock Tower is a small park with replicas of clock towers all over Turkey.  They all once kept time, and many were obviously lit, but the park, and the towers are in severe disrepair.

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The towers of Izmir and Edirne

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The tower of Izmet

The Tower of Istanbul

The Tower of Istanbul

We stopped for Saffron Tea, while it should be common it was difficult to find.

We stopped for Saffron Tea, while it should be common it was difficult to find. It is hot water, saffron, lemon, honey and cloves. Worth seeking out!

Someone is very patriotic

Someone is very patriotic

These water spots are everywhere, not only in town but throughout the country. The name of the person that game the money for them is almost always inscribed in the stone.

These water spots are everywhere, not only in town but throughout the country. The name of the person that gave the money for them is almost always inscribed in the stone.

Another dilapidated chic building of the area.

Another dilapidated chic building of the area.

It is leek season

It is leek season

Stray cats and dogs are rampant throughout this part of Turkey, more than one would expect.

Stray cats and dogs are rampant throughout this part of Turkey, more than one would expect.

You will find these threshing boards all over Safronbola. They are obsolete farm implements used to separate cereals from their straw. They consist of two or three wooden planks put together and then pierced with several hard and cutting flints crammed into it. Two horses pulled the board while a person stood on it, riding in circles over the cereal that was spread on the threshing floor.

You will find these threshing boards all over Safronbolu. They are obsolete farm implements used to separate cereals from their straw. They consist of two or three wooden planks put together and then pierced with several hard and cutting flints crammed into it. Two horses pulled the board while a person stood on it, riding in circles over the cereal that was spread on the threshing floor.

Thresher

A sidewalk Turkish Coffee Vendor

A sidewalk Turkish Coffee Vendor

One of the sitting rooms in a typical home, this one happens to be in our hotel

One of the sitting rooms in a typical home, this one happens to be in our hotel

The hotel's tortoise.

The hotel’s tortoise.

Lunch today was at a wonderful spot, in fact we most likely will be returning for dinner, Kadioğlu Şehzade Safrasi.

Pide and Bükme

Pide and Bükme

Safranbolu,

This Japanese style structure sits on the main square of town. There is a plaque on the building explaining it, but the English translation leaves a lot to be desired. Basically it is a gift to the town, because of a man, born in Safranbolu, that became a nuclear engineer. He spent time in the US but a better portion of time in Japan, where he made an impression on those he met. He returned to Istanbul, but is buried here in Safranbolu, and this is in his honor, I think from the Japanese.

Safranbolu is a marvelous town to visit.  I do not recommend more than one day, but it is the perfect spot to get a good feel for the architecture of Turkey.  Sadly, it is becoming a bit kitschy.  I do hope it survives the tourism downturn, and finds a way to continue as a “living town”.

The town of Yörük Köyü lies just a few miles outside of Safranbolu.  The town has not been restored, giving one a chance to see the exterior construction techniques of the Ottoman home in better detail.  You can read about that here.

Oct 052016
 

October 4, 2016

Our day began this morning in the town of Abano. We had driven from Sinop the day before along the coast of the Black Sea. After overnighting in a “resort” hotel with only 6 other guests in this off-season we chose to take the coastal road all the way to Amasra.

Black Sea RoadsThere is no way to explain this road. It is often only wide enough for two cars if they are both in their own lane and going slowly, it is often only wide enough for one.

A farmer with a far more practical form of transportation

A farmer with a far more practical form of transportation

The topographical change within each mile is stunning. Seven of every eight turns is a blind curve and is either going at a 10 or 15% grade up or down.

There were many places where the road on the cliff side was undercut with erosion, making you hug the mountain as hard as your imagination would let you.

An absolutely unreachable pristine beach

An absolutely unreachable pristine beach

I would not have missed this drive for anything! I was the driver this day, I almost never got over 45KMH or 30 MPH, and I am an experienced driver with some race course time under my belt. The car is a manual, in other words, a stick-shift, my shoulder was exhausted after hour three, as I was shifting between 2nd and 3rd approximately every 1 minute.

Turkish road signs are some of the best

Turkish road signs are some of the best

The views were amazing, not just of the Black Sea coastline, but of the sheer cliff farm houses and orchards we saw along the way.

I did not take enough photos of this drive, as there just were no places to safely pull over. If you ever do the Black Sea, I highly recommend the drive, but allow much more time than the maps tell you, and I would recommend an automatic.

The result of Tectonic Slamming

The result of Tectonic uplift is evident throughout your drive

The Pontic Mountains spill into the Black Sea in this area, in some places making it too shear, to actually build roads or live along the coast. These mountains, like the Rockies were formed by plate collisions. In other words, where the tectonic plates slammed against each other creating this uplift of the earth. This made for some stunning views out our windows.

For much of this drive we were in the Kaçkar range, which is the highest point in the Pontic Mountains.

Cape Karambis

Cape Karambis

Very near the town of Doğunyurt is Cape Karambis. The promontory is the nearest point on the Anatolian coast to the Crimean Peninsula and has for centuries served as a nautical landmark for those seeking to cross the Black Sea at its narrowest point.

İNEBOLU

The town of İnebolu is known for its architecture. While we did drive through the town the houses that we had hoped to see are way up in the hills. When getting lost, I found this little model of the homes that the area is famous for. It probably shows them better than any real one would, as the area is densely forested, and homes are hard to see.

A model of the homes of Inobolu

A model of the homes of Inobolu

Architectural descriptions of the homes explain that the ground floor is built of stone and contains a cellar and pantry. Above it are one or two stories, each containing four bedrooms, one antechamber, a kitchen and toilet. Each of the floors is built so that it can easily be converted into one independent flat by closing a single door. This feature allows the married children of families to continue living in the same ancestral home they grew up in. Each floor also has its own separate street access.

The rooms have many windows and each room has a corbel and framework which enables the women to look out onto the street without being seen. The ceilings of the rooms are high and covered in carved art. Hand-rails in the houses are carved from a single piece of wood.

Most of the houses have roofs that are tiled with a special sea-stone called marla. The tiles are wide, thin and heavy, and protect the houses from the strong northeast winds that blow across the Black Sea. The stone also provides an excellent insulation against heat.

Each house has an orchard garden, we saw apples, pears, hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts. Apparently every garden has a well, which is used to refrigerate foodstuffs during the hot summer days.

The houses are painted with a special claret mineral pigment known as aşı boyası, which is highly resistant to sunlight and weathering.

Every gas station has someone that will power wash your vehicle.

Every gas station has someone that will power wash your vehicle.

AMASRA

Amastris

Amasra derived its name from Amastris, the niece of the last Persian king Darius III, who was the wife of Dionysius, tyrant of Heraclea

Our day finished in Amasra. It is a wonderful small town sitting on a small bay that just begs for a quiet cup of coffee and a long time to sit and enjoy.

Originally called Amastris by the Greeks, the town today is known for its beaches and natural setting, which has made tourism its biggest business.

Amasra is a fishing village, and the cats know where their bread is buttered.

Amasra is a fishing village, and the cats know where their bread is buttered.

Amasra

*Amasra TurkeyAmasra has two islands: the bigger one is called Büyük ada (‘Great Island’), the smaller one Tavşan adası (‘Rabbit Island’). You can walk across a very, very short bridge to Great Island and visit its small residential enclave. Rabbit Island is completely barren and is just a stones throw from the mainland and Great Island.

Rabbit Island

Rabbit Island

Grand Island is off to the left

Grand Island is off to the left

The towns history is deep, it was mentioned by Homer in one of his stories. Like most of Turkey it has seen multiple invasions, but it was mentioned by Pliney the Younger during Roman times. In 1261 the city became part of the Republic of Genoa.

Amasra Castle

Amasra Castle

Amasra Castle was built during the Roman period. The walls of the castle were built by the Byzantines. The front walls and gates were built by the Genoese in the 14th and 15th centuries. Though located on a narrow peninsula, a tunnel under the castle leads to a fresh water pool.

One of the many gates of the Amara Castle. The castle is on UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative List

One of the many gates of the Amara Castle. The castle is on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List

Two old Turkish homes on the Grand Island

Two old Turkish homes on the Great Island

Amasra Turkey

*

It was market day. This area is famous for its chestnuts.

It was market day. This area is famous for its chestnuts.

Amasra, Turkey

*Amasra Turkey

*Amasra Turkey

The evening ended with a stupendous fried anchovy dinner at Mustafa Amca’nın Yeri – Canlı Balık Restaurant.

fish at Mustafa Amca'nın Yeri - Canlı Balık Restaurant

Oct 042016
 

October 2, 2016

Fortress walls of Sinop, Turkey

Fortress walls of Sinop, Turkey

Our Black Sea journey begins at Sinop and will end in Amasra. Sinop sits on the most northern edge of the Turkish side of the Black Sea coast.

Long used as a Hittite port, the city proper was re-founded as a Greek colony from the city of Miletus in the 7th century BC.. Sinope flourished as the Black Sea port of a caravan route that led from the upper Euphrates valley.

Looking out to the Black Sea from downtown Sinop

Looking out to the Black Sea from downtown Sinop

Sinope escaped Persian domination until the early 4th century BC. In 183 BC it was captured by Pharnaces I and became capital of the Kingdom of Pontus.

The Roman general Lucullus conquered Sinope in 70 BC, it continued to be conquered throughout the ages.

Diogenes always carries a lamp because he is "looking for a good man" and never finding one.

Diogenes always carries a lamp because he is “looking for a good man” and never finding one.

Sinop was the birthplace of Diogenes, a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. My favorite story of Diogenes includes Alexander the Great. It is said that while in Corinth Diogenes was relaxing in the morning sunlight, Alexander, thrilled to meet the famous philosopher, asked if there was any favor he might do for him. Diogenes replied, “Yes, stand out of my sunlight”. Alexander then declared, “If I were not Alexander, then I should wish to be Diogenes”. In another account of the conversation, Alexander found the philosopher looking attentively at a pile of human bones. Diogenes explained, “I am searching for the bones of your father but cannot distinguish them from those of a slave.”

Boat model shops are rather prevalent around downtown Sinop

Boat model shops are rather prevalent around downtown Sinop

On November 30, 1853, the Imperial Russian Navy crossed the Black Sea to Sinop, attacked the Ottoman fleet which was in port there, and utterly destroyed it. The Russian bombardment went on long past when it was clear the Ottomans were defeated, killing many Ottoman sailors who were no longer combatants.

The “massacre of Sinope” was one of the events precipitating the Crimean War (1853-1854) in which Great Britain and France declared war on Russia and fought with the Ottoman Empire.

Sites around the town of Sinop, Turkey

Sites around the town of Sinop, Turkey

SynopSinop hosted a US military base used to gather intelligence during the cold war era. The US base was closed in 1992.

Our hotel was Zinos, our fish dinner in the hotel was sublime.

A view of the Black Sea between Sinop and Arabo

A view of the Black Sea between Sinop and Abano

We drove out of Sinop and through the Pontic mountains for about three hours, on our way to the town of Abano. The coastline we are driving over, during the days we are in the Black Sea area, is one of the least frequently traveled sections of Turkey, partly because until very recently no road existed along the shore. There is really nothing here, we just wanted to drive the coast at a leisurely pace.

The Black Sea

Throughout the countryside we ran across many of these houses, completely covered in tiles with small mirrors in the center of the patterns.

Throughout the countryside we ran across many of these houses, completely covered in tiles with small mirrors in the center of the patterns.

As we have been driving around Turkey it has been difficult to grasp the inner workings of the Turkish culture and economy.  Regarding the economy, their GDP grew considerably and then took a dive in 2015. According to one US study “Mounting political turmoil in Turkey will drag on business sentiment going forward. This situation, coupled with security concerns in the country, will impact growth.” It is very obvious that tourism has taken a real hit in Turkey, how that will play out overall, only time will tell.

The birth rate of Turkey is also on the decline.  Like most every country in Europe this is obvious in the countryside where the young are very rarely seen.  However, I have been rather amazed at the amount of families we have encountered on this trip, especially in the “tourist” areas and in the big cities.  The government is attempting to give incentives for birth, but they are nominal and not practical.  However, the government does hope that refugees living in Turkey could help solve the issue. Turkey currently hosts nearly 3 million Syrian refugees, aand more than 1 million of them are children, according to the Directorate General of Migration Management of the Turkish Interior Ministry.

One cannot discuss Turkey without addressing several moments of Genocide in their history.  These subjects are forbidden to discuss in Turkey itself, leading to a massive wiping out of collective and historical memory.

I met a wonderful Kurdish gentleman that said his friends do not even know he is Kurdish, as they would treat him differently or simply stop being his friend should they know.  It is against the law to speak the Kurdish language in Turkey even though Kurds in Turkey are the largest ethnic minority in the country. According to various estimates, they compose between 15% and 20% of the population of Turkey, and are primarily concentrated in the east and southeast.  According to NEO “It won’t be an exaggeration to state that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is systematically exterminating Kurds throughout Turkey which constitutes an act of genocide.”

Then there is the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide began with the forced deportation of the majority of the Ottoman Armenian population between 1915 and 1917. Further massacres and deportations occurred during the closing stages and immediate aftermath of World War I. The modern Turkish government has always denied the fact that the massacres of the Armenians during the Ottoman period constituted genocide.

Regarding the movement to a more radical form of Islam in the country, W. Robert Pearson  U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 2000 to 2003 and currently a scholar at the Middle East Institute and his colleague Gregory Kist graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science state that “much has happened since the Arab Spring to challenge (President) Erdogan’s domestic and foreign policies. Domestically, while he has won a new mandate to seek the constitutional change to cement his political control, he has done so at the cost of a growing Kurdish insurgency and the elimination of media freedom. His disregard for institutional controls on government and belief in populist justification for authoritarian rule has deepened internal tensions.

Regionally, his missteps in Syria — from which Turkey is now experiencing the consequences — compare unfavorably with Turkey’s historically pragmatic approach and highlight risky and ideological tactics that are failing. His devotion to his original philosophy has brought him great political successes, but the costs continue to mount for him, for the Turkish people and for stability in the region.”

I have experienced this in seeing many, many more women dressed in more conservative Islamic required dress than ever before in Turkey, and women’s rights are eroding as well.

In addition to all of this the government has fired 10,000 teachers and has ordered the closure of 102 media outlets, including 45 newspapers, 16 TV channels, three news agencies, 23 radio stations, 15 magazines and 29 publishing houses. Arrest warrants have been issued for more than 100 journalists.

There is a vast change occurring in Turkey, but where it will go is impossible to know.  I will say that I have only been greeted by the most wonderful, accommodating, helpful and kind people wherever I have gone. I have not experienced any anti-American sentiment either, despite all that I read in the papers before I left.