By Heidi Trautmann
Apart from an organised tour
of five days for a private group, a second tour was offered for four days for
any other music lovers living in Cyprus, a dream to come true, combined with a
cultural programme covering the urge for ever more information of the past and quenching
one’s thirst for excellent wine and food of the area. Under the following link,
the reader may be informed about what was offered.
However, I want to write
about the tour our private group did. My husband and I know Turkey quite well
since we have been sailing along all its coasts for many years and have explored
the immense and well preserved witnesses of history on many occasions and trips
across the country. Thus, it was with much pleasure that we accepted the
occasion to see that part of the country again.
We travelled by Atlas Jet
from Ercan to Izmir, not more than 70 minutes. The airport, about 30 minutes from Izmir, was empty, hardly
any activities, tourism has sadly and heavily decreased. I still remember the
airport of the 1980s, not more than a shack, where we arrived coming from
Munich to spend our holidays on our sailing boat which was moored in Kuşadası. In those days we met with camel caravans
alongside the American taxis which were the fashion then. Things have changed
drastically, beautiful highways, all very clean and its middle strips beautifully
done. The region we travelled through is known as the antique Ionia with Izmir,
Ephesus, Selçuk, Priene, Didima and Milet, places we were going to visit during
these days. A brilliant green landscape with rich estates of fruit, vines and
olive trees, so soothing in these hot days of summer.
We were taken to a winery
estate in Çamlik near Selçuk, a place called Yedi Bilgeler or The seven Sages …
where we were to stay for the coming days. What a beautiful and peaceful place,
the estate in a green valley surrounded by hills, with the main building and
smaller stone houses around a big swimming pool.
The owner recounts as
follows, as he took us around the estate and invited us for a wine tasting…. “Like
most of the good ideas ours also started with a dream. The dream of producing
our own wine . To make a dream come true many things have to come
together. So we had to wait until 2010 to find the right spot ,the right grapes
,the right architect and the needed cash to realize our dream. Once getting
started there was no turning back, and since that day we are working hard to
realize our dream.
From the very
beginning our aim was to go for quality rather than quantity. We imported vines
from France to match our soil and climatic conditions,we placed the
fermentation tanks on a higher level than the storage tanks to avoid the usage
of pumps .The winery itself is in the middle of the vineyard and we are working
with one of the best winemakers in Turkey , Antoine Bastide d'lizard.
Now there was
one thing left to do; We had to give our dream a name; Just like Anatolia is
the the birthplace of wine so is İona , the ancient name of our area; the
birthplace of philosophy.If philosophy is about finding the truth, the answer
is in wine . As they say IN VİNO VERİTAS .
We wanted to
make a tribute to the great men who laid the foundations of rational thinking
2500 years ago . So we named our brand YEDİ BİLGELER - SEVEN SAGES.All the
wines we have produced so far were named after
one of these philosophers. Anaxagoras, Lassos,Thales, Solon, Pythagoras, Khilon
and Bias, who were born in the same region.
the valley we sat down for dinner, the photos speak for themselves. They make
their own olive oil and grow all what is needed to spoil their guests. See
their website www.yedibilgeler.com
region exerts an almost magical attraction, with every breath you inhale you
taste the beauty, tragedy, the wonders of the past of a people; history to be
read in its landscape, its ruins, its music and food and its people living there
today. Places that were once close to the sea are now far away inland, covered
up by soil and sand, somewhat salty. However, the water molecules of the old
Meander river are still the same, evaporating and coming down again as rain, at
least I believe so. Turkey being the bridge to the East, once for the explorers to reach the Far East, for
the tradesmen to look for new things for their markets, the Crusaders to reach
the Holy Land, for many who sought paradise and were told that at the shores of
Minor Asia, golden fruit would be hanging from the trees as we know from
legends and saga; even the Wikings were attracted to find out what was behind
those rumours, and that must be the reason why so many people of that region
have blue eyes and blond hair.
of the ancient times were always on the move, either looking for better
pastures, a better life, or out of curiosity; some stayed and mixed with the
locals, others moved on. Wars and subsequent occupation changed temporal and
spiritual authorities, new traditions were imported, new styles and
architecture we can still see today more clearly in such density than in any
other countries. Migration is the sorrow of today in many European countries:
where the pastures are rich the poorer go to, a law of physics, isn’t it? But migration
has always happened, everywhere.
the following days we visited some of the famous places and that is when we
have to admit that our ancestors were masters in many fields of the arts, architecture
and all that went with it, sculpting, images in stone of immense beauty,
ceramics, the knowledge of natural colours, of glass making, they took more
time to develop beauty, beauty to make life more agreeable, sure, I know, it
was mostly for a very thin layer of priviledged people with the biggest part of
the population working hard. In those days city planning and its execution
lasted over many centuries. Artists, knowledgeable people – when taken prisoner
of war, captured as slaves - were always treated well and given opportunity to
show their art.
do not intend to repeat the known history here of the places we visited, the
knowledge of it is so very easily obtainable on the internet, but want to share
the ideas that come to one’s mind when one visits the places mentioned.
is a centre location for visiting all these famous places; to Ephesus not more
than10 minutes, even to Kuşadası only half an hour’s drive. The coast is very
close with one long stretch of beach in Didima; after some sightseeing a
refreshing swim and with Lucullus waiting for you in one of the many beach
restaurants, you have all you can wish for. It sounds like advertising? It is
the absolute truth.
people of the region are mainly farmers or a even doing several jobs with their
families helping but the closeness of Ephesus and the other attractions have
brought Selçuk to the fore front of touristic interest.
the day of our concert in Ephesus we did the sights in and around Selçuk, i.e.
the Basilica of St. John, Isa Bey Mosque, Temple of Artemis but also the local
fruit market, and finally the amazing Ephesus Museum, you would need days to
see it all. The departments of antiquity and museums are doing a lot to improve
the conservation at the excavation sites and in the museums and have also introduced
educational workshops for youngsters. In this museum one finds the two impressive
statues of Artemis, the multi-breasted, very well presented. Our guide was very
knowledgeable in history and was fluent in German, you could ask him any
question and he knew how to establish connections between the various periods
and give clues to why what happened and how it is interpreted today.
Interesting. Also the fact that before the Greeks and Romans arrived, older kingdoms,
the Hittites had their settlements and fortifications in the same places and we
may be sure that some of their building material was used for the erection of
Ephesus: findings of pottery is another proof of Hittite presence.
proof of progress in cultural and educational conservation was a place we
visited and had lunch. A beautiful spot named Sultanköy in Çamlik, not far away from our Seven
Sages Winery. It was founded in 1987 and
is now sitting on 164,000 m2; it serves to protect, develop and market carpet
weaving and gives employment and education in the old craft to many people. See
their website www.sultanköy.com
lunch there was served on white clothed tables under huge pine trees a couple
of hundred years old, true Tuscany atmosphere. We were later shown all
techniques of weaving, producing silk thread from cocoons, dying wool with
natural colours and the weaving itself with the girls sitting in front of the
frame with a sheet of patterns next to them. To produce a carpet of 2x3m, let’s
say from silk threads gained from cocoons takes two persons about three years
to finish. You can imagine what the final prize for such a precious piece would
first day was a sort of attunement, with the region’s culture then and today,
the efforts of the local cultural departments to offer their best to the
travellers who come here to enjoy a traditional and cultural cocktail, an
attunement for the main reason of our trip, the concert at the Ephesus
Amphitheatre. The evening was beautiful with a red sun on a misty sky. It took
us some time to reach the amphi theatre that may receive about 25.000 guests
and hopefully the sun set opposite the open dish of the theatre. A stream of
visitors mostly elegantly dressed moved along the stone paved avenues and up
the steep stairs to the theatre entrance all with cushions under their arms – I
often wonder why the builders made these steps so high, the people of the old
times were of rather small height. What did they show on the stage then to
entertain the masses, to divert their attention from uncomfortable thruths?
Theatre, fights until death decided, proclamations... I tried to visualize the
80 musicians in black arrived with Robert Trevino as conductor and they took us
first through the Fantasy Ouverture by Tschaikovsky, a symphonic poem based on
Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’. A work in eight movements. It was followed by Franz
Liszt, piano concert No. 2 in A major, S.125 with the excellent German/Japanese
pianist Alice Sara Ott, ...they call her the ‘hottest new talent in classical
music’, true, she was like a fireball in red, barefeet and with full physical
involvement taking us through six movements. A comment I read on one of her
concerts ....Watching pianist Alice Sara Ott perform is both mesmerising
and astonishing. How can someone who looks so ethereal play with such force and
explosive energy? How can someone so young command an orchestra with such
confidence and élan?...
The audience was exploding and she had to give an encore which was in contrast
to the Liszt piece before.... so softly played.
The concert concluded with Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor
op. 70, op.70 B.14. and here we could experience the beauty and strength of a
big orchestra of this size.
What an unbelievingly beautiful and exceptional
evening, what an experience with the soft wind coming from the sea, with the
ghosts of ancient times around us and the audience got up and would not leave,
they called for encores, and encores they were given, four altogether.
Under the moon and old pine trees we walked
back, slowly with the music still lingering in our minds and people smiled at
each other; a young girl offered me her arm to bring me down the high stairs
safely, music unites.
The impression stayed with us for the next day
when visiting Priene, Didima and Milet, resonating in us, sensitizing us for
the greatness of past architecture but also for the enormous work done by the
archeologists in keeping these treasures available for us with ongoing efforts.
Also in Ephesus, the big and important capital
of ancient times, works of restoration were being continued. We took our time
to visit this place again, we had arrived early but already many groups were
rolling through the stone alleys, stopping for taking selfies and not only the
Japanese visitors. It was immensely hot and people rushed to find a place in
the shade of a column. Ephesos, Efes in Turkish, Apasa in Hittite times and
when the Romans took over in 129 BC a population of 33.600 to 56.000 people are
assumed. Ephesus was also a crossroads during early Christianity with the
temples of polytheism still around whose representatives have impressed me when
I was a child. There were gods or goddesses for each subject you wanted help
for, they had much more time to attend to a matter than one single god, but we
must admit, those gods had not the best of morals but somehow ... human.
From Ephesus we went up into the mountains
where Mary Virgin Mother is said to have fled to and had lived until her death.
Today Christians, Jews and also Muslims come here to see the place and feel the
atmosphere, where children sit by the Baby Jesus in the hut and talk to him or
sing, where International convents are held. A peaceful and beautiful place.
Nor far away is Şirince, a former Greek village
high up in the olive mountains where today live those Turks from the Greek
islands of Crete, Rhodes etc. who found a new home here within the exchange
programme of Atatürk trying to stop the war between Greeks and Turks by
separating them. Old ladies sitting in front of their old houses, doing needle
work; small restaurants, and places where you can buy local specialities;
usually the village is heavily visited tourist attraction, today the villagers
are desperately waiting for busses bringing foreigners to buy their work... but
Turkey is suffering from a decline in tourism, safety can not be guaranteed, as
we sadly had to realise on the day of our flight home to Cyprus with the
terrorist attack on Istanbul Airport. However, this is not only a Turkish
problem, it is worldwide.
We took our leave from this beautiful region
and on our way to the airport we visited the centre of Izmir, a most attractive
coastal town, the third biggest city in Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara. The
city centre is built around a huge bay and all along the coast one can walk
along a wide pedestrian promenade. I was here four years ago with an artist
friend during the first art Biennale and had fallen in love with the place,
especially its small lanes and side streets so full of culture and music, so
many museums and art places, universities, with a multinational flair in the
air. No wonder, from here came Charles Aznavour and other famous musicians such
as Dario Moreno after whom a street is called. Churches, synagogues, mosques,
all together side by side. Villages within the city, poor and rich, Syrian refugees
quarters – it is said that about 200.000 are in Izmir alone.
We went up by the old lift built by Jews to
easier get to their synagogue, and had a good overview over the city, a last
glance on the democratic region of Izmir, before we settle down for a last meze
lunch in the old Bazaar.
We will come again, we promise.
If you want to have your holidays custom made trust
Kaleidoskop Turizm in Kyrenia. We have entrusted them with the planning a couple
of times now and our trips were extraordinary, see my website for example the
...Vestiges of the past, here the link to Part