City of gastronomy to share its cuisine with world

Cuisine hailing from the southern province of Hatay, included in UNESCO’s “Creative Cities Network” in the field of gastronomy, is now set to be branded and introduced to the world. 

With over 600 dishes, Hatay cuisine is famous for its unique features and rich variety across Turkey. 

Hatay cuisineThe Hatay Metropolitan Municipality now plans to share the province’s tastes with the rest of the world through promotional projects that will help Hatay cuisine become a global brand. 

Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Hatay Mayor Lütfü Savaş said the province has been at the center of trade for centuries at the junction of Anatolia and the Middle East. 

“We live in a very important region located on ancient pilgrimage routes. Thirteen of the 23 world civilizations have lived here. We have a historical past, cultural values and civilization accumulation. Here, many food cultures have lived in peace with each other, not conflicted but inspired by each other. And today we are talking about a region that has over 600 dishes. It is unthinkable to not share them with the rest of the world,” Savaş said. 

He added that they have been working since 2010 to make Hatay “the world’s gastronomic city” and noted that the province was included in the Creative Cities Network by UNESCO last year. 

Savaş said they promoted the tastes of the city by organizing “Hatay Days” across Turkey, which they will now take elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East. 

“We organized promotional events during the ‘Hatay Days’ in Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir. We will now share this with the world too. We want to glorify the Hatay brand,” he added. 

Sedat İnanç, the Chairman of the Association of Hatay Cooks, said the region’s cuisine took inspiration from the Arab world, Anatolia, Central Asia and Europe. 

“Turkish cuisine is something separate from Hatay cuisine. Here we have over 250 types of breakfast … We want to gather them all in a book, including forgotten dishes. As fast food has become more popular, these traditional dishes have been forgotten,” İnanç said, adding that people across the world are now seeking new tastes.” 

“There is great interest in Hatay dishes but we still don’t have skillful cooks or facilities to serve them. But if we manage to overcome this problem, I believe that Hatay cuisine will reach the renown that it deserves,” he added.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

Note: Hatay is also known as Antakya, in ancient times, the city of Antioch

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Strolling around old Istanbul – and not thinking about the election

We had a three-day holiday to celebrate the end of the Ramadan month of fasting. Left alone, I did some wandering around less frequented parts of the old city.

Mahmut II tomb2

Monumental cemetery  – tombs of late Ottoman luminaries including three 19th century Sultans: Mahmut II, Abdülaziz and Abdülhamid II

Cerrah Mehmed Paşa Cami3

Cerrah Mehmed Pasha Mosque, 1583. The architect, Davut Ağa was a pupil of the great Sinan

Arkadios Column2

Only the base remains of the 5th century Arkadios column, centre of a flourishing slave market in former times

Koca Mustafa Paşa Complex2

Koca Mustafa Pasha mosque complex – built in 1489 on the site of a former Byzantine monastery. The tomb contains the remains of a royal princess, daughter of the Emperor Constantine XI, who is said to have converted to Islam.

Hekim Ali Paşa Complex2

Interior of Hekimoğlu Ali Pasha mosque, built by an 18th century Grand Vizier.

Haseki complex3

Haseki mosque complex – the third largest in Istanbul, built by the architect Sinan on the orders of Hürrem Sultan, wife of Süleiman the Magnificent. The complex contained schools, a hospital and a soup kitchen to feed the poor.

Giant walnut

Ancient walnut tree, dating from who knows when?

Çinili Cami

Recently restored mosque (in Üsküdar) of Kösem Sultan, one of the greatest Ottoman women – built in 1640, and known as Çinili, or the Tiled Mosque, because of the beauty of its decorative ceramic tiles.

Çinili Cami5

Mihrab (altar) and mimber (pulpit) in Çinili Mosque – afer a four-year restoration.

Mount Ararat home to rare species of squirrel

mountAraratMount Ararat, Turkey’s highest mountain, is home to Anatolian ground squirrels and other extraordinary wildlife. 

Various bird species, predators, mammals, reptiles and many rodent species are also living on Mount Ararat. 

Mount Ararat has a snow-capped peak that towers over eastern Turkey, Iran and Armenia. It is where the Bible says Noah landed his ark after the flood. 

Thanks to its flora and fauna dotted on thousands of acres of land, the mountain provides a unique living environment to wild animals, some of which are still unknown to science. 

ararat squirrel

Anatolian ground squirrel

Anatolian ground squirrels, which live in the region but are rarely seen, have been drawing great attention. 

Iğdır Forestry and Water Affairs Director Mete Türkoğlu said, “This species is generally found in the region from the Caucasus to Iraq, Syria and even Palestine. In Turkey, they live across the eastern provinces of Kars, Erzurum, Iğdır and Ağrı as well as in the Central Anatolian region,” he said. 

He said the squirrels had many reasons to choose Mount Ararat and its vicinity. “They generally prefer dry lands; places far from water and moisture, but where people are. The reason why they are seen especially during these months is that they spend half of the year sleeping.

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Tulip Festival kicks off in Istanbul

tulip festivalThe 13th Istanbul Tulip Festival opened on April 3 at the Emirgan Park with the participation of Istanbul Governor Vasip Şahin. As part of the festival, the Istanbul Municipality has decorated many parts of the city with tulips. The festival will continue with various events throughout April.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/tulip-festival-kicks-off-in-istanbul-129766

Turkey’s whistled language to get alphabet

Whistled language? What? That’s fairly interesting!

“A group of Turkish academics have launched a project to create an alphabet for the whistled language, which is spoken in northern Turkey’s Black Sea region. Around 10,000 people, mostly in the district of Çanakçı in the Giresun province, currently use and understand the language, according to UNESCO.

whistle languageThe language, Kuşdili (bird language) as locals call it, was listed by UNESCO as being in urgent need of protection last year. It was developed to allow people to communicate across steep mountain valleys but has been dying out, as mobile phones reduce the need for new generations to learn the language.

Prof. Musa Genç, the dean of the Tourism Faculty at Giresun University, told Anadolu Agency the project aims to “pass on this cultural heritage to future generations.”

”To do that, we have formed a working group to create the alphabet of the whistled language,” Genç said.

He said a group of academics, including musicians as well as linguists from Giresun University, will visit Kuşköy village and begin creating the alphabet for the language. According to Genç, records of the language will first be turned into notes and later into letters.

“When the project is finalized, the whistled language, which is used for communication by locals in the region, will become a more common and internationally used language,” he said.

He said the language had been used in Giresun for around 500 years and it was also used in other parts of the world as a communication tool. The human voice can travel up to 500 meters in normal conditions, Genç said, adding that the whistled language allows the voice to reach up to 30 kilometers in good weather conditions.

The practice is one of the dozens of whistled languages used around the world where steep terrain or dense forests make communication difficult over distances, such as North Africa’s Atlas Mountains, the highlands of northern Laos or the Amazon basin in Brazil.

Since 1997, the Bird Language Festival has been held in Kuşköy to promote its use. The district has also provided training programs to primary school pupils for the last three years. However, despite these efforts, UNESCO found that “the whistled language may soon totally disappear unless essential safeguarding measures are undertaken using an integrated approach.”

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

 

Original Hagia Sophia tiles in France

Persepolis_Iran

Ruins of the Achaemenid city Persepolis, Iran

My step-daughter has just returned from a visit to Iran. She was there to deliver a paper at a conference, but was able to do a little sight-seeing. One of the “must-sees” for tourists is the UNESCO-listed ruins of Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE). Those guys get an honourable mention in the Biblical Old Testament for permitting exiled Jews to return to their homeland and build a great temple in Jerusalem. Their kindness to the Jews, however, didn’t save them from having their magnificent city looted and burned by the army of the Great Macedonian Alexander as he marauded his way east on his mission to conquer the world.

Apparently present-day Iranians are unhappy that many artefacts from Persepolis later found their way into the collections of museums in Europe and the United States. I did a quick check online, and sure enough:

“A number of bas-reliefs from Persepolis are kept at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. There is also a collection from Persepolis at the British Museum. The Persepolis bull at the Oriental Institute is one of the university’s most prized treasures, but it is only one of several objects from Persepolis on display at the University of Chicago. New York City’s Metropolitan Museum houses objects from Persepolis, as does the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of Pennsylvania. The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon and the Louvre of Paris hold objects from Persepolis as well.” (Wikipedia)

Inevitably our discussion turned to the matter of other historical and archaeological treasures housed in museums far from their original homes. Step-daughter was sure she’d seen the Rosetta Stone, key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics, in Cairo. I was equally sure I’d seen it in the British Museum – and another online check confirmed that the one in London is the real one. The same institution counts among its most prized possessions, apart from probably more Egyptian mummies than you’ll find in Egypt, the so-called Elgin Marbles – a vast store of marble friezes and sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens, smuggled away in several shiploads by the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the early years of the 19th century. Greek governments have repeatedly asked for them to be returned – but the Brits are having none of that.

Elsewhere, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna has a large section devoted to treasures from the classical city of Ephesus in modern Turkey, including a 70-metre frieze commemorating a (rare) Roman victory over the Parthians in 165CE. The Treasures of Priam, King of Troy (also in modern Turkey) were spirited away in the 1870s by the German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann. They were exhibited in the Berlin Ethnological Museum until 1945 when they disappeared – turning up later (in 1993) in Moscow, of all places. Well, it’s hard to get self-righteous about having stolen property stolen by someone else, I guess.

Mokomokai12

A popular conversation piece in 19th century drawingrooms

New Zealand’s indigenous Maori have for years been trying to get back tattooed human heads that were popular with European collectors of cultural curiosities in the early days of colonisation. I’ve recently been made aware (thanks Lara!) of a similar campaign by native American peoples to repatriate human remains from universities in Canada.

It seems the government of Turkey is at the forefront of this worldwide struggle to have purloined cultural and archeological objects returned to their homeland. In recent years, they have won several significant court battles resulting in the handing back of disputed sculptures and other artefacts. One such was the Sarcophagus of Heracles, smuggled out of Turkey in the 1960s, seized by port authorities in Switzerland in 2010.

And here’s another interesting one in the news this week:

A panel of tiles in Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum were smuggled to France in the 1890s and replaced with imitations, according to museum director Hayrullah Cengiz. 

“You can see the logo seal ‘made in France, Sevres’ behind the tiles,” he said, speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency. 

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“Identical” ceramic tile panels on the tomb of Sultan Selim II

According to Cengiz, the Hagia Sophia receives nearly two million local and foreign visitors every year. One of the two panels on the sides of the entrance of the tomb of Sultan Selim II, son of Süleyman the Magnificent, are an imitation of the original tiles, he said. 

“The tomb is a work of Mimar Sinan, the greatest architect in the Ottoman state. These tiles were taken to France for restoration in the 1890s by the Frenchman, Albert Dorigny, who came to the Ottoman Empire as a dentist. But they were not returned. Instead, imitation tiles were made in France and mounted in place of the originals. The original tiles are on the right side. You can see the difference between the two panels. These are a perfect example of 16th century tiles.”

Cengiz said the Culture and Tourism Ministry had made a request to the French Ministry of Culture for the tiles to be returned. “These tiles were being exhibited in the ‘Arts of Islam’ section of the Louvre Museum in France. They have recently been removed, most likely due to complaints,” he added.

“The restoration of five tombs here was finished in 2009. It was revealed that these tiles were imitations during the restoration work, as you can easily see the logo ‘Made in France, Sevres’ written behind them. When you look at the difference between the two tiles on the right and the left, you can see the beauty of the original ones. The colors of the others have faded and lost their gloss because they are imitations, even though they have been there for only 100 years. The original ones, which are 400 years old, look brand new,” he said.

Cengiz also said the two panels are made up of 60 tiles and the fake ones were an exact copy of the original. “It is not too difficult to copy them, but as years pass by, the difference becomes evident. Not only did Dorigny smuggle this panel, he probably stole many other tiles from Istanbul museums where he had done restorations in those years.”

Now that was a cheeky one!

Archeology in Turkey – There’s no end to it!

Spotted this in our local news today:

Excavations reveal ancient Germanicia

The ancient city of Germanicia, which was discovered 10 years ago in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş, is progressing to become the Ephesus of the region.

germanicia2Located in the Dulkadiroğlu neighborhood, the ancient city was discovered in 2007 during illegal excavations. Registration, expropriation, excavation and preservation works have still been ongoing to uncover the ancient city that covers an area of 140 hectares, including the neighborhoods of Namık Kemal, Şeyhadil, Dulkadiroğlu and Bağlarbaşı.

Social life in the era was featured by mosaics, which covered the floors in the late Roman era. The mosaics uncovered in different spots during excavations carried out by the Kahramanmaraş Museum Directorate, have entered the archaeology literature in the multi-language publication of the World Mosaic Unions and increased the importance of the region.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, the Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Seydihan Küçükdağlı said works had been ongoing for almost 10 years in the area. So far, 30 out of 50 parcels of land have been expropriated.

germanicia-antik-kenti-nde-kamulatrlior

And of course, the locals have to move.

“Thirteen parcels of land are in the court process and it will soon be resolved. We want this area to be projected as an archeology park, an open museum. The excavations will continue to reveal the mosaics that have been uncovered in two fields and the current archaeological data we have. Each of these parcels are in a different spot. The ancient city of Germanicia will become the locomotive of Kahramanmaraş tourism once it is completely unearthed,” said Küçükdağlı.

So far, they have completed an excavation area of 3,000 square meters and spent 13 million Turkish Liras in two years, said the director.

Some of the mosaics found in the ancient city of Germanicia have been on display in their original places and some at the museum, according to Kahramanmaraş museum director Ahmet Denizhanoğulları.

germanicia 3Last year’s works unearthed very important ruins of graves and walls, said Denizhanoğulları.

“This year, we continued excavations in a different parcel and found very important mosaics. Germanicia is progressing to become the Ephesus of the region. Once it opens for tourism, this place will change the future of our city. These were the highest quality mosaics in their era. They date back to the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. They feature daily life and hunting animal figures. There is also a place we excavated in 2015. It is most likely a church,” said the director.