Ours is not a caravan of despair
Shams el-Din said to Mevlana Rumi:
You have gone on pilgrimage
You can walk to a blessing anywhere.
If you just go for blessing
Blessing is excess of everything.
Don't be content with being a faqih (religious scholar),
say I want more - more than being a mystic
Our bodies are created for motion.
say I need to move to stay healthy
Sufipath as devotional act
take the rough as you learn humility
a good human complains of no one;
and does not look to faults
The best things in life are free.
This certainly applies to walking.
As that path is open to commune
with all truly wondrous
As walking becomes your dhikr
Your path will be like clear water;
wherever you flow,
wondrous blossoms grow
From the Maqalat-e Shams-e Tabrizi (Discourses of Shams Tabrizi)
Shams el-Din Mohamed el-Tabrizi (died 1248)
The Sufipath is an old trail. And like the dervish movement itself has spanned several continents and cultures over a millennium. The Path of Shams el-Tabrizi was his road to Mevlana, the most wonderful mystical poet in the world (not only in the Islamic world). Shams was the man who transformed Rumi from a learned religious teacher into that great poet and founder of the Whirling Dervishes. For centuries now his grave in Konya is worlds most visited Sufi-shrine.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Now that Rumi has become one of the best-selling poets in North America, interest in his life and times has increased dramatically. He himself invited us to join the Sufipath:
Yes, you who've gone on pilgrimage -
where are you, where, oh where?
Here, on this path you can find the truth!
So come, come now, yes come!
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come...
From Divan-e Shams-e Tabrizi
Mevlana Rumi (1207-1273)
Sufipath vs. Camino de Santiago
Similarities of the Sufipath with the Camino de Santiago are obvious. But it is hardly realised that low-cost, independent international travel had its origin in faith. That there was something going on around the tombs of important saints. The big one in Roman Catholic Europe was the hiking-trail to the relics of Saint James in Spain, the Ottoman Empire had its equal in Sufisaint Mevlana Rumi.
Both cults had their setback. The so called reformation made the now 1000 year old European pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella impossible from Protestant countries. And what is today worlds most visited sufi-shrine was closed all together in 1924. And nihilized with a ban on all Sufi-orders.
But like the Camino de Santiago the Sufipath was almost forgotten, waiting to revive, due to its richness in historical, cultural, spritual and natural values.
The Sufipath was again discovered by the western world during the Hippie trail of the 1960s and 70s. It calmed the troubled brow and breathes new life and vigor into those travelers. Hectic time seems to slow down, and the traveler had a chance to think about what is really important. Who we are and where we are going to.
It was during the Third International Mevlana Congress at Selcuk University in 2003 that a roadmap and Sufipath-guide to the Mevlana-shrine was suggested. Many battles and wars have been fought over religious beliefs. But we all can agree that the nature is indisputably Gods work, whoever or whatever God may be. There is growing interest but little historic knowledge about the backpackers sufi-tradition.
The Sufipath lead along natural, cultural, historical and geographical assets as an unique opportunity in the category active and alternative tourism. The Sufipath is filled with such places of historical ands natural attractions. Beside te spiritual centers there are caves, falls, woods and breathtaking rocky formations.
The Sufipath is focusing on Konya, but in no way, as in Santiago de Compostella, is Konya "the end of the world". The dogs barked and the caravan went on!
Both sanctuaries are now more popular as it has ever been. Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to both shrines each year from points all over Europe, and other parts of the world. Turkey with its unique historical, cultural and natural riches has so much more to offer as crossroads of civilisations.
Saint James of Compostela
Santiago de Compostela.
Real name Yaakov Ben-Zebdi.
Death: Beheaded in Jerusalem, 44 AD.
James was one of only three apostles (of 12) whom Jesus selected to bear witness to his Transfiguration. Acts of the Apostles records that Herod Agrippa I had James executed in Jerusalem, making him the first of the apostles to be martyred. James himself has left us no writings.
According to a tradition that cannot be traced before the 12th century, the grave of Santiago (St James) is said to have been discovered in 814 by a bishop in the north os Spain. He was guided to the spot by a star, the legend affirmed. A later tradition states that St James miraculously appearedin Spain on the clouds to fight for the Christian army, and was henceforth called Matamoros (Moor-slayer). The authenticity of the bones of St James in Compostela was asserted on 1 November 1884 by Pope Leo XIII. After been decapitated in Jerusalem in 44 AD James' body was taken up by angels, and sailed in a rudderless, unattended boat from Palestine to Spain, where his grave became one of the main centers of Christian pilgrimage, rivaled only by Jerusalem, Constantinopel (Istanbul) and Rome.
Mevlana Rumi of Konya (Iconium)
Real name: Jalal ad-Din Mohamed Balkhi.
Death: 17 December 1273 AD in Konya
He was the only apostle of the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi.
When you go to Konya to visit Rumi’s mausoleum, “the Green Dome” you must not forget to pay a visit to the memorial of Shams-i Tabrizi as well, for “otherwise, Shams will be angry with you!” as the pious people in the city will tell you.
Rumi had been a sober scholar, teaching law and theology to a small circle of students, but the coming of Shams turned him into a devotee of music, dance, and poetry. Three years after Shams’s appearance out of nowhere, he abruptly vanished on the night of 5 December 1248, never to be seen again.
Beginning with Rumi’s own son a great deal of legend was built up. Over the centuries Shams became a trope of Persian, Turkish, and Urdu literatures. When Rumi and Shams sat and talked, one or more members of the circle took notes. These were never put into final form, but they were preserved and sometimes copied by later generations, ending up in various libraries scattered around Turkey. In 1990 an Iranian scholar completed the long process of collating and editing the manuscripts to the Maqalat-i Shams-i Tabrizi, “The Discourses of Shams-i Tabrizi”, provides us with an extraordinary picture of an awe-inspiring personality.
Shams recounts: "What then do you know of me? I went into that thicket where lions wouldn't dare to go (...) and awesomeness settled into me."
Shams appears as raucous and sober, outspoken and subtle, learned and irreverent, cruel, and harsh. Lots of people around him hate him.
The connection between Rumi and wild man Shams is the essence of Islam: utter submission to the divine. Absolute and uncompromising, without insincerity or reservation. It is the Shams reminds us, as he reminded those around him, that this has nothing at all to do with sweet words and noble sentiments, with putting on spiritual airs and gaining the admiration of the faithful.
When Rumi himself died, the Muslims argued with the Jews and Christians about who would have the honor to bear this philosopher and mystic to his grave.
He was laid to rest beside his father and over his remains a splendid shrine was erected. Rumi's importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. His original works are widely translated into many languages. His 13th century shrine continues to this day to draw pilgrims from all parts of the world and is the main centers of Sufi pilgrimage. BBC News described Rumi as the "most popular poet in America".
Camino and Sufipath
The similarity Sufipath to the Camino de Santiago is evident. Both are centuries old hiking-trails, both aiming for a pilgrimage shrine.
And yet so different.
The Camino ended in Finisterrae, what what the known end of the world. Did you move on from there, you would fall of the earth. So believed the pilgrims on their way to the tomb of the saint that wore the title Matamoros, the Moorskiller. A title they are ashamed for now in Spain. The Moors, trodden by the growing horse of the saint, are now discreetly covered with plastic flowers. The present pilgrim would rather not be reminded of the murderous aspect of the Saint in medieval Europe.
For centuries the trail to the shrine of Mevlana in Konya, Turkey. was unknown in the western world. That changed when Mohamed el-Fers introduced the idea of a sufi Way "of St James" as an active Sufipath for long distance hikers at the Third International Mevlana Congress at the Selcuk University of Konya on the 5th of May 2003.
The Shams Sufipath
There is another Sufipath, the one to the tomb of Shams of Tabriz. Shams lived together with Rumi in Konya for several years. Shams was immortalized in Rumi's collection of poetry named the "Divan of Shams ad-Din of Tabriz".
Shams himself was born in the city of Tabriz, and what we would call a rude boy. Too rough for the theological circles Mevlana used to roam and made Shams run away.
Rumi's bereavement at his sudden disappearing was a shock to his followers. It made Mevlana sick and he refused to talk to them any longer. It was Mevlana his oldest som Walid that went to search for Shams as far as Bagdad and Damasc, and talked him into a return. Mevlana was estatic. But Shams sudden disappeared for a second time. Just walking out the door and not to be heard of for centuries. Rumi's lost of Shams found expression in an outpouring of music, dance, and lyrical mystic.
Shams of Tabriz Tomb in Konya, Turkey
Shams left the world with no less than three tombs claiming to be his final restingplace. There is a Shams of Tabriz tomb in Konya. This should point that Shams was killed soon after he left the house of Mevlana, and was secretly buried not far away. To be rediscovered in the last century by the director of the Mevlana Museum.
Shams of Tabriz Tomb in Khoy, Iran
Another tomb of Shams of Tabrizi is to be found in Khoy, Iran. Here most scholars point to the long standing tradition that Shams was not killed, but beated the hell out of his attackers before returning to his birthplace, where he died and was buried near the so called Shams Minaret. According Shahram Nazeri, the winner of France's Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur medal will the tomb of Shams Tabrizi in Khoy become a second Konya in the future, and that this will have a positive influence on the culture of Iran.
Nazeri said this during a ceremony on November 3, 2007 in Khoy. Next to the Sams Minaret he was honoured by the Iranian House of Cinema with the Medal of Shams and The Golden Key of the Tomb of Shams of Tabriz in Khoy.
Shams of Tabriz Tomb in Multan, Pakistan
With all the evidence of tradition, the historical dated oldest Tomb of Shams Tabrizi is to be found in Multan, Pakistan.
Sufipath to Konya (Iconium), Turkey
Konya was an important stage on the road to Jerusalem and Mecca. It became a goal on its own since great poet and mystic Mevlana Rumi came to Konya and after his death in 1273 his grave became worlds most visited sufi-shrine in the world.
On the day a sufi-moslim was granted for the first time in the history the special roman catholic blessing of a bishop before making the Way of St. James, drs. Veyis Güngör spoke: People have no idea that a greater collection of old pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe not end in Santiago in northern Spain. The majority had Rome and Jerusalem as their destination. As all the overland-routes passed to Konya, the first Dutch pilgrim was recorded there in the year 1005. On this Tuesday 10 April 2007, now Sedat Çakir received that special blessing, we know it is time that people should know about the pendant Sufi Camino.
Bishop Punt of Amsterdam-Haarlem
after he blessed Sufi Sedat Çakir
European longest-distance path
After the first pesident of the Turkish republic ordered the closing of all the Dergahs, Tekkes and sanctuaries in 1925, it was quite for a while along the Sifipath. But like the Camino the Santiago, interest in history grew with the years, and long-distance walking was no longer done by lack of other means of transport.
Annemieke Telkamp of MokumTV: So, we asked Mohamed el-Fers to continue the research he did for his Mevlana-biography on those old Pilgrimtracks and create a guide with practical advice for these walks and reveal the deeper aspects of the old Sufitrails.
Mohamed El-Fers: Since I introduced the idea to reconstruct those old Sufitracks at the 3rd Mevlanacongress at Konya-university, much of it is still work in progess. But as did the Camino the Santiago for Spain, the Sufipath can do for Turkey. The rehabilitation and improvement of historical destinations! The Way to Santiago gave rural Spain the hard sought diversification and made it a world brand in historical and cultural tourism.
The routes of the Sufi long-distance path make, if possible, use of existing national and local trails such as the GR (Grande Randonnée) footpaths, a network of long-distance footpaths in Europe.
Veyis Güngör: But the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism gives impetus to revive the old historic paths and restauration of existing civilisation ruins. It encourage people to restore and rebuild so called Open House Museums in which etnographic characterics of the region are displayed.
Mohamed el-Fers: To design and implement the trails I first have to thank all those people that knew stories and tracks they will share. And where would I be without the help of Aziz Aslantekin (Klas TV), Veyis Güngör (UETD) and Sedat Çakir (WVI) for their help. and not to forget Murat Kirbacoglu, who took GPS readings.
Each day involves a walk from 5km up to ca. 25km. But the Sufipath as hiking-trail can make other leaps, as there are boats or public transport to cover less spiritual surroundings.
From Zwarte Haan to
The European part of the Sufipath make up part of the longer walking routes which cross several countries, e.g. the Via Frisia from Zwarte Haan in the Netherlands to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Via Frisia, local known as Jabikspaad, is the farest tributary to the Sufipath at this time. Zwarte Haan - Konya is Europes longest long distance walk.
In Turkey: everybody his turn...
Turkey's first long-distance footpaths were the Sufitrails, a wide network of tekkes (cloisters) and sanctuaries around The Mother of all Tekkes in Konya. As Konya was regarded as the capital of Rum (Rome), they named Mevlana "Rumi" (lit. "from Rome"), even he never visited the Papal Citystate.
The area held its name Rum also in Islamic times. Konya was capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. This was where Mevlana lived most of his life, and composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature which profoundly affected the culture of the area.
After he died in 1273 CE, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mawlawiyah Sufi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the samah ceremony. Mevlana his shrine became worlds most visited sufiplace of pilgrimage and the Anatolian city of Konya turned into an "Islamic Vatican". It is recommended that you walk the Turkish parts of the route in spring or autumn; February-May or September-November.
European Capital of Culture Magic Citywalk
Sufi Traces of Istanbul
Go now to ISTANBUL and this "stand-alone" walk through the Capital of the Caliphate. This trail for Istanbul only will be included in the 2010 edition of the cityguide Istanbul by Mohamed el-Fers and presented during the opening of the year 2010, when Istanbul is European Capital of Culture.
It was suggested to include the trail to the Hamzakoy Mevlevihane of Gelibolu (p205) as logic extention of this Istanbul Sufi Trace.
The Rumi Way (European Sufipath)
As the long-distance footpath leading from Europe to Istanbul is known as the Sufipath, the Rumi Way has to be understood as the "European Way", or better "From Europe" as all of it, exept for the track from Istanbul to Gelibolu, run on Asian soil.
From Istanbul to Galipoli
Istanbul - Silivri - Tekirdag - Gelibolu
The Hamzakoy Mevlevihane said to be once the richest Mevlanaconvent in the world. It was located in the Gelibolu's Hoca Hamza area on the Gallipoli peninsula in the European part of Turkey. Today the town is well-known for sardine canning.
It was the center of the Ottoman Kaptanpaşa Eyalet. But this are killingfields. The Bulgarian Army threatened Gelibolu during the First_Balkan War and advanced to Bolayır in 1912. On 25 April 1915 a joint British Empire and French attack was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The attempt failed on the Gallipoli peninsula and was ended on 9 January 1916, with heavy casualties on both sides. Between 1920-1922 the town was occupied by Greeks and the first president of the Turkish Republic turned the Mevlevihane of Gelibolu into a military hospital.
From Gelibolu to Afyon
Gelibolu - Lapseki - Can - Balikesir - Usak - Banaz - Afyon
In the small harbour the ferryboat leaves for Cardak (3 km) or Lapseki (4,6 km) on the Asian side. Most likely the Derwish would head for the Karahisar Mevlevihane of Afyon, the number 2 convent after Konya.
Afyon, Turkish for opium, is located on an intersection which connects north to south, west to east and had its Karahisar Mevlevihane on these crossroads.
A castle on the black rock dominates te city. The top of this rock has been fortified since 1350 BC and was occupied by Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Byzantines and Seljuk Turks.
In the Castle are various worship places. During the period of Seljukian Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad, a small mosque was added and a palace was constructed near the castle. The castle was much fought over during the Crusades and was finally conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid I in 1392 but was lost after the invasion of Timur Lenk in 1402. It was recaptured in 1428 or 1429.
The area thrived during the Ottoman Empire. As the centre of opium production Afyon became a wealthy city with the typical Ottoman urban mixture of Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Turks. Afyon became famous for the production of kaymak, a rich cream, produced by cattle that are fed the left-over opium plants. That changed in the late 1960s when under USA lead international pressure the opiumfields were burnt and production ceased.
Nowadays Afyon is known for its large cement factory. Beside some well-established roadside restaurants on the intersection of the routes from Ankara to İzmir and from Istanbul to Antalya it is also an important railroad junction between İzmir, Konya, Ankara and Istanbul. Beside these restaurants it has little in the way of cultural amenities. The Turkish Parliament officially changed its name Afyon to Afyonkarahisar (Black Fortress of Opium) in 2004, as production of opium for pharmaceutical purposes is still the most important activity in the region. Afyon produces more than a third of the world's legally grown opium. Since 2006 Afyonkarahisar is twinned with the town of Hamm in Germany. As Hamm's architectonic Highlight since 1984 is an elephant-shaped building, Afyon now has a large statue of a Hamm elephant.
From Afyon to Konya
Afyon - Cay - Aksehir - Tekkekoy - Derbent - Selahattin - Konya
Afyon, Cay, Camozu Akşehir, Reis, Karaağa, Tekkekoy, Başkoy, Balki, Asagicgil, Yassioren, Derbent, Güneykoy, Selahattin, Ulumuhsine. After 3km left to Kücükmuhsine, after 800m right to Saraykoy and Konya.
Alternate: From Bursa to Cay
Güzelyali - Bursa - Inegol - Eskisehir - Dervispasa - Cay
Leave Bursa for Kestel, Inegol, Bozoyuk Eskisehir, Seyitgazi, Kesenler, Akin, Yarbasan, Gokbahce, Dervişpaşa to meet up with pilgrims from the Geliboluroad at Afyon or Cay.
From Malatya to Karaman: The Mevlana Way
Malatya - Erzincan - Sivas - Kayseri - Gumusler - Nigde - Karaman
This is the track of Mevlana himself on Turkish soil. According to tradition, Rumi was born in Balkh in contemporary Afghanistan. At that time part of the Persian Khwarezmian Empire and hometown of his father's family. Scholars believe that he was born in Wakhsh, a small town located at the river Wakhsh in what is now Tajikistan. Wakhsh belonged to the larger province of Balkh, and in the year Rumi was born, his father was an appointed scholar there. His father decided to migrate. Rumi's family first performing the Hajj and the first place we find Mevlana on Turkish soil is Malatya. From there the caravan with the young master went to Erzincan, Sivas, Kayseri, Gumusler and Nigde, to arrive in 1222 in Larende, now known as Karaman. Mevlana stayed in Karaman, where his mother died. After Karaman he left for Konya.
Read the biography of Mevlana Rumi
From Selifke to Konya: The Karaman Way
Tassucu - Selifke - Mut - Karaman - Çumra - Çatalhöyük - Icençumra - Konya
In Konya itself The Karaman Way was the main track of the long-distance Sufipaths to Konya, as Mevlana himself walked (part of) this way. The name refers to the main city among this trail: Karaman, but It was actually a sea-gate to the Miditarean. The Karaman Way starts from the Tassucu-harbour near Selifke, runs up north to Mut, to the shrine of Sheikh Edebali near Karaman. After Karaman the road leads to the 1001 churches of Binbir Kilisi. This is very old soil. Near Çumra we pass, 50km southeast of Konya, the Neolithic site Çatalhöyük. From Icençumra to Konya is the last part of the Karaman Way.
The Silk Road
Istanbul - Ankara
This is a fraction of the historical Silk Road alignment entering Anatolia that trespasses Istanbul to reach the European Continent and the cities of Adapazari, Bolu and Ankara found on its alignment. Also encompassing the remote disticts of Sapanca, Geyve, Tarakli, Goynuk, Mudurnu, Beypazari, Gudul and Ayas.
The Lycian Way
Fethiye - Antalya
The Lycian Way is a 500 km long footpath that stretches from Fethiye to Antalya, around part of the coast of ancient Lycia. It takes its name from this civilisation which once ruled the area. The route is graded medium to hard; it is not level walking, but has many ascents and descents as it approaches and veers away from the sea. It is easier at the start near Fethiye and gets more difficult as it progresses. Summer in Lycia is too hot, although you could walk short, shady sections.
List of places on the trail: Ölü Deniz, Kabak, Kınık (Xanthos), Akbel, (detour for the Gelemiş village and ruins of Patara), Kalkan, Kaş (Antiphellos), Üçağız, Kale, Demre (Myra), Kutluca, Zeytin and Alakilise. Here the trail reach a height of 1811 meters at İncegeriş T. Then on to Belos, Finike, Kumluca, Mavikenic, Karaöz, Adrasan, Olympos, Çıralı. Here the trail splits into:
Coastal route: Tekirova, Phaselis, Asagikuzdere (just outside Kemer)
Inland route: Ulupınar, Beycik, Yukari Beycik, Yayla Kuzdere, Gedelme
The route is mainly over footpaths and mule trails; mostly limestone and often hard and stony underfoot. It is waymarked with red and white stripes, the Grande Randonnee convention. The Sunday Times has listed it as one of the world's top ten walks. Starting in 2009, an ultramarathon will be annually organized at the historical lycian way with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
See Lycian Way UltraMarathon
More on the Lycian Way
The Saint Paul Trail
Perge (Antalya) - Yalvaç - Isparta + Aspendos - Adada
After Jesus, St Paul the Apostle is most probably the most important person in the history of western Christianity. The name of the trail derives from the fact that it follows approximately 500 kilometers the route of the Apostle on his first recorded missionary journey into his homeland. Saint Paul was born in Tarsus and on his 1st Journey he traveled to Antioch, Seleucia, Cyprus (Salamis and Paphos), Perge, Antioch in Pisidia, Konya (Iconium), Derbe, Lystra, Antalya and Antioch.
St Pauls Trail goes from Perge, 10 kilometers east of Antalya, to Yalvaç, Isparta, northeast of Lake Eğirdir. It starts at sea level and climbs to 2200 meters in elevation. A second branch starts at Aspendos, 40 kilometers east of Antalya, and joins the main route at the ancient Roman site of Adada.
It is marked along the way with red and white stripes to Grande Randonnée standards.
More on the Saint Paul Trail
Kapadokya - Avanos - Göreme - Ürgüp
The Bible's New Testament tells of Cappadocia, but in fact this is Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moonscape" area around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos and Mustafapasa (Sinasos), where erosion has formed "fairy chimneys", clefts, caves and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock. A number of short trails wend through the volcanic Cappadocian landscape near Avanos, Göreme and Ürgüp.
More on the Cappadocia Trials
Ayder - Yusufeli
The Kaçkars stretch along the Black Sea coast in extreme northeastern Turkey. Dotted with historic Georgian churches, the mountains offer fine trekking possibilities from Ayder and Yusufeli. Yusufeli, 130 km (81 miles) north of Erzurum, is right across the summits from Ayder on the Black Sea slope and a more pleasant town than the nearby provincial capital of Artvin.
More on the Kaçkar Mountaintrekkings
Güngör: In the year 1005 earl Dirk III of Holland visited Istanbul, Konya and Antakya. Not as Crusader, such as later continuators as Floris II would do, but as peaceful pilgrim, on the gone to Palestine. Dirk III is the oldest known Dutch visitor to current Turkey. It is time the world should know that among the historic European longtrack walkingpaths, Sufipath and Caminos cross each other on many places.
The Historic Via Comitis
Route of Dirk III to Konya
The Dutch earl Dirk III (981-1039) was five years old as his father, Arnoud of Ghent, earl of Holland, dies in 993 during one of that 'boerenriots' , that occurred in the early history of the Dutch county. Dirks mother, Liutgarde of Luxembourg, sister of the powerful German emperor Hendrik II observed the governing board concerning the Netherlands for him as a regentes.
Dirk develops into a tree of a guy. He is already of age when his county Holland is threatened to be attacked by the Frisians. Then Dirk makes a vow and promise to god. that if his country will be saved of the Frisians, he makes a pilgrimage to Palestine.
His mother is less pious. Instead to wait for celestial aid, she calls for the aid of her brother, the Holy Roman emperor. He travelled with an army from Utrecht by ship to the Friese area in the winter of 1004/1005. When the Frisian attacks has ended, Dirk III temporarily hands over the governing board of Holland to his mother and brother Sicco.
Right then, in spring of 1005, spends Sicco a castle at Santpoort (Sancta Porta) and thus Dirk could discharge on his 'promessa' and leave on pilgrimage.
By the mid 5th century, as the Roman Empire began to crumble, Thracia fell from the authority of Rome and into the hands of Germanic tribal rulers. With the fall of Rome, Thracia turned into a battleground territory for the better part of the next 1,000 years. The eastern successor of the Roman Empire in the Balkans, the Byzantine Empire, retained control over Thrace until the beginning of the 9th century when most of the region was incorporated into Bulgaria.
Cities n Trace:
Çerkezköy (56 km from Tekirdağ and 110 km from Istanbul. Until the 1800s this was a village called 'Türbedere'. 'Türbe' is the Turkish for 'tomb' and the village took its name from the tomb of the eldest son of sultan Bayezid I, Suleiman Çelebi, who was murdered here in 1410 when fleeing from his brothers during the Ottoman Interregnum. The tomb was destroyed by Bulgarian troops when they occupied the town for nine months during the war for Bulgarian Independence in 1912. The land here is flat, watered by the River Çorlu and good soil for farming, so until the 1970s Çerkezköy was a pleasant small town in a rural setting. Today an industrial area with hundreds of factories surround Çerkezköy town centre, a typical Turkish collection of rows of grey low-rise blocks containing public buildings, small supermarkets, banks, and kebab restaurants, with a square in the middle containing a statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and nearby a large central mosque.
The military base in Çerkezköy is Turkey's biggest centre for basic training in military service. The town is well-equipped with schools, hospitals and other infrastructure.
Uzunköprü is a small town on the railway line from Istanbul towards Sofia and a frontier post on the Greek border. The "Long Bridge" (Turkish: Uzunköprü) gave its name to the town. The bridge was built between 1426 and 1443 by head architect Muslihiddin on the orders of Ottoman Sultan Murad II. The ancient stone-built bridge, which has 174 arches, is 1,329 m (4,360 ft) long and up to 6.80 m (22.3 ft) wide. Some of the arches are pointed and some are round. Uzunköprü is the longest stone bridge in Turkey.
Edirne close to the borders with Greece (7 km) and Bulgaria (20 km), is famed for its many mosques, the elegant domes and minarets, which dominate the panoramic appearance of the province. Adrianople contains the ruins of the ancient palace of the Sultans, and has many beautiful mosques. One of the most important monuments in this ancient province is the Selimiye Mosque, built in 1575 and designed by Turkey's greatest master architect, Mimar Sinan, which has the highest minarets in Turkey, at 70.9 meters, of an altogether grandiose appearance and with a cupola three or four feet higher than that of St. Sophia in Istanbul. Carrying the name of the then reigning the Ottoman Sultan Selim II, this mosque magnificently represents Turkish marble handicrafts and it is covered with valuable tiles and fine paintings. Edirne was founded as Hadrianopolis, named for the Roman Emperor Hadrian. The area around Edirne has been the site of no fewer than 16 major battles or sieges, from the days of the ancient Greeks. Licinius was defeated there by Constantine in 323, and Valens killed by the Goths in 378. In 813 the city was seized by Khan Krum of Bulgaria who moved its inhabitants to the Bulgarian lands to the north of the Danube.
During the existence of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, the Crusaders were decisively defeated by the Bulgarian Emperor Kaloyan in the battle of Adrianople (1205). Later Theodore Komnenos, Despot of Epirus, took possession of it in 1227, and three years later was defeated at Klokotnitsa by Asen, Emperor of the Bulgarians. It was captured by Sultan Murat I in 1365, the city served as capital of the Ottoman Empire from 1365 until 1453.
Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, was born in Adrianople.
Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, lived in Edirne from 1863 to 1868. He was exiled there by the Ottoman Empire before being banished further to the Ottoman penal colony in Akka.
Symbolic inscription consisting of two "waw" letters on the walls of the 'Ulu Mosque'
Also needing mention are the Trakya University Bayezid II Külliye Health Museum, a great monument with its complex construction comprising many facilities used in those times.
Besides the fascinating mosques, there are different sites to be visited in Edirne, all reflecting its rich past. There are attractive palaces, the most prominent one being the Edirne Palace, which was the "Palace of the Empire" built during the reign of Murat II. There are the amazing caravansaries, like the Rustem Pasha and Ekmekcioglu Ahmet Pasha caravansaries, which were designed to host travelers, in the 16th century.
Of Edirne's Christian heritage, there remain two Bulgarian Orthodox churches: Saint George and Saints Constantine and Helena. Saint George has a Bulgarian library and an ethnographic collection. The two Bulgarian churches are the only functioning Christian places of worship in the city today.
Every year in end of June there is an oil-wrestling festival called Kırkpınar, the oldest active sport organization after the Olympic Games (which were refounded after centuries of inactivity).
Kırklareli area may have been the location of the first organized settlement on the European continent. It is not clearly known when the city was founded, nor under what name. Byzantines called it "Forty Churches" In the XIV Century, this was translated to Turkish and called "Kırk Kilise" . During the Republican Period, Sanjaks became cities and on December 20, 1924, Kırk Kilise's name was changed to Kırklareli. The Bulgarian name of the town is Lozengrad, which means "vineyard town". Located at the center of the city is the 1383 built Hızır Bey religious compound (külliye). This consists of a Mosque, Bath and Arasta (Bazaar), built by Köse Mihalzade Hızırbey.
Kırklareli is also host to the only cave that is open to tourists in Thrace, the Dupnisa Cave (which is believed to have formed 4 million years ago). Dupnisa Cave was used for Dionysian Rituals (Sparagmos) in ancient times. Even the name of Dionysus is believed to have come from Mount Nisa that is above the cave of Dupnisa.
Lüleburgaz has a population of 98,000 and is known for its sixteenth-century mosque and bridge, both named after the Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmet Paşa and purportedly designed by the Ottoman chief architect Sinan.
Tekirdağ is situated on the coast of the Sea of Marmara, 135 km west of Istanbul. The picturesque bay of Tekirdağ is enclosed by the great promontory of the mountain which gives its name to the city, a spur about 2000 ft. in height from the hilly plateau to the north. Between Tekirdağ and Şarköy is another mountain, Ganos Dağı. In 813 and again in 1206 it was sacked by the Bulgarians after the Battle of Rodosto, but it continued to appear as a place of considerable note in later Byzantine history. It is the capital of Tekirdağ Province and it is seen by many as a smaller, quieter town than the industrial centre of Çorlu, which it administers. The population as of 2007 was 134,000.
Tekirdağ's historical name was Rodosto and during the Byzantine era, it was also called Bisanthi. During the Ottoman era, it was called Tekfur Dağ, based on the Turkish word tekfur, which designates generally the Byzantine feudal lords. In time, the name mutated into Tekirdağ. Today the Tekirdağ area is the site of many holiday homes, as the area is 90 minutes by road or train from nearby Istanbul. The road follows the coast and the villages of Şarköy, Mürefte and Kumbağ are particularly popular. Much of this holiday property has been built in an unregulated and unplanned manner and thus much of the coast seems very crowded and over-built. And the sea is not all that clean either, but there are still places to access the seaside near Tekirdağ.
Tekirdağ itself is a typical Turkish commercial town centre with a little harbour and little to offer to visitors. Of all the statues of Atatürk in Turkey the town centre of Tekirdağ holds the only one that was made exactly life-size. Most of the Ottoman wooden buildings have been replaced by practical concrete blocks but the town has neither modern sophistication, nor antique charm, nor any night-life. The Rakoczi Museum, a 17th century Turkish house where the Hungarian national hero, Francis II Rákóczi lived during his exile, from 1720 till his death in 1735 is a property of the State of Hungary and is widely visited, having become a place of national pilgrimage.
The church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) Rheumatocratissa contains the graves, with long Latin inscriptions, of other Hungarians who took refuge here with their leader.
Çorlu today is larger in population than the provincial center of Tekirdağ, owing to a population growth initially caused by the emigration of Turks from Bulgaria that complemented the traditional left-leaning, industrial working-class of Çorlu, and a second wave of migrants from rural Anatolia in the 1990s who came to work in the factories, who now make up the conservative populace of the city. Another group, albeit smaller in numbers, is the Romani community.
The town center bears the hallmarks of a typical migration-accepting Turkish rural town, with traditional structures coexisting with a collection of concrete apartment blocks providing public housing, as well as amenities such as basic shopping and fast-food restaurants, and essential infrastructure but little in the way of culture except for cinemas and large rooms hired out for wedding parties. Çorlu's shopping facilities have recently been enhanced by the completion of the 25 km² Orion Mall. While there is little to no nightlife, save for the town's now-infamous red light activities, as Çorlu is close to Istanbul, locals can and often do easily go to "the city" for the weekend.
The years 1005-1006
In 1005 it took Dirk in 1005 only 11 months to reach the Holy City. That year 1005 Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria was forced into an almost entirely defensive stance against the 48-years old Byzantine emperor Basil II, better known as the Bulgar-slayer.
In the time Dirk III came to Bulgaria, Tsar Samuel extensively fortified passes and routes from the Byzantine held coastlands and valleys into the territory remaining in his possession. But the Bulgar Tsar reacted with daring strokes and large-scale raids into the heart of Byzantine Thrace. Dirk III could have been in town whe the Tsar surprised the major city of Adrianople (Edirne).
On returning homeward with his extensive plunder, Tsar Samuil was surprised near Skopje by a Byzantine army commanded by the emperor. Basil's forces stormed the Bulgarian camp, inflicting a severe defeat and recovering the plunder of Adrianople.
In 1005, the year that Dirk III made his trip, the governor of Durazzo, Ashot Taronites, surrendered his city to the Byzantines. This completed the isolation of Samuil's core territories in the highlands of western Macedonia. The next few years, the Byzantine Macedonian dynasty showed no significant gains.
Byzantium regained Thrace in 972 only to lose it again to the Bulgarians at the end of the 12th century. Throughout the 13th century and the first half of the 14th century, the region oscillated between Bulgaria and the Byzantine Empire. In 1265 the area suffered a Mongol raid from Golden Horde, led by Nogai Khan. In 1352, the Ottoman Turks conducted their first incursion into the region subduing it completely within a matter of two decades and ruling over it for five centuries.
The modern boundaries of Thrace in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
In 1878, Northern Thrace was incorporated into the semi-autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia, which united with Bulgaria in 1885. The rest of Thrace was divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century, following the Balkan Wars, World War I and the Greco-Turkish War. Today Thracian is a strong regional identity in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey.
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