St Paul’s Way: Reflections, Links and Information

This is another stunning route put together by the Turkish Cultural Routes Society http://cultureroutesinturkey.com and our congratulations go to Kate Clow and all others involved for creating such a wonderful experience for those lucky enough to have tried even parts of it.

The historical sites we choose to visit were those recommended in Kate’s book as being the most significant but there are so many other things to see too. Yes, it would be great to take three or four weeks to walk the whole route but many people don’t have the time, energy or physical ability for that and our approach suited us well as we still walked 10 to 20 km most days, on and around these main sites.

Of course we only scratched the surface of the walking that’s available on the SPW though some of the parts we did experience were so enjoyable. Highlights include the descent from Pednelissos towards Hasgebe, Yazılı Kanyon (Çandır), the Roman road up to Adada (though very slippery when wet – nay lethal), the views from Prostanna near Eğirdir, the hilltop around the Temple of Men and the Adam Kayalar (Rock Men) near Selge.

We rented a car from Turtas Cars https://www.antalyarentacar.com/en who are well established and have had good feedback on review sites. Their communications were efficient and their administration team speak very good English (though the guys at the airport less so) and though they managed to display another customers name at arrivals we still found them easily. Originally I’d intended to hire something like a Ford Focus but they had a Dacia Duster for the same price (including three drives and full CDW insurance) and the 4WD probably saved us from getting stuck after heavy rain turned a mountain track into a very slippery mud bath.

We used GAIA GPS https://www.gaiagps.com again for route plotting, trail navigation and recording. Once we were off the main coastal roads there were no road signs and you’d be stuffed without a GPS. I would not rely on the information provided by any car’s satnav either.

These are the details of the accommodation we used:

    Baba Farm House, Perge.

This was very convenient for Perge and comfortable with a great breakfast though a little noisy as it’s under the flight path of Antalya airport. So bring your ear plugs because if you don’t need them here then they will come in handy for the commonly encountered chronologically challenged crowing cockerels, ubiquitous bonkers barking dogs and snoring of your slumbering companions that you will find at the other places.

  • 2. Pednelissos Restaurant and Bungalows
  • http://www.kozanpednelissosrestoran.com/?pnum=12&pt=Rezervasyon+

    Wonderful location and superb hosts. Live music too!

    3. Canlar Alabalık Otel, Çandır

    The Canlar Trout Farm and Hotel

    Quite an unusual proposition as it’s a hotel on a commercial trout farm and fish market though it’s right on the SPW and only about one mile from Yazılı Kanyon. You’ll need to like trout though – which made an excellent supper

    4. Göl Pension, Yeşilada, Eğirdir

    Göl Pension, Yeşilada Eğirdir

    http://www.golpension.com

    Wonderful lakeside location and charming family hosts.

    5. Otel Oba, Yalvaç

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g781301-d1568259-Reviews-Oba_Hotel-Yalvac_Isparta_Province.html?m=19907

    Typical city budget hotel with very friendly and helpful staff. Convenient for Antioch and Temple of Men. Plenty of dining options in the town.

    6. Erdinç and Emin Barça’s Pension, Çaltepe

    Views from Erdinç’s Pension

    Rooms at Erdinç’s Pension

    https://www.facebook.com/erdincpansion

    Wonderful location and superb hosts. Very soft and friendly dog which can be a little over familiar with some 😉 Spectacular views.

    7. On our last night we’d booked into the Four Season’s “Hotel” in Ilıca (via booking.com) as we wanted to be relatively near the airport and the thought of a swimming pool seemed a good idea. It turned out to be a private apartment in a gated residential complex and whilst it was comfortable I think we’d have been better off staying in Antalya or Manavgat and exploring the museums there.

    Tunturi for breakfast with Ahmet at his Nefes Mersin Tunturi Lokantası in Serik

    Other Notes

    On the Sunday we visited the Kurşunlu Şelalesi (the Leaded Waterfalls) though as you may expect at this time of year there wasn’t a lot of water to fall and the crowds of visitors made it for a less than enjoyable experience. I’m sure on an early Wednesday morning in May it’s a very different proposition though.

    Kurşunlu Şelalesi

    Budget and Costs

    You won’t actually be able to spend a lot of money on this sort of trip. The whole week including car hire, fuel, all accommodation, meals and snacks cost us around £300 each. The exchange rate for the Turkish lira has almost halved in the past year.

    Engravings at Aspendos

    Planning Your Trip

    This book (The St Paul Trail: Turkey’s second long distance walk https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0957154712/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_cHLXBbF8A3SYT)

    and the website http://cultureroutesinturkey.com/st-paul-trail/contain all the information you should need for your trip and the GPX files can be down loaded once you’ve bought the book. There is also an App though this is being updated so we weren’t able to use this.

    On arriving at the historical sites, a key piece of information is the layout of the main buildings and structures so you can locate and identify them. Map boards are erected at some sites though none were evident at Pednelissos, Antik Kent Prostanna, Temple of Men or Selge and some previous research of the plans of these would have helped us significantly.

    There are many other long distance routes in Turkey and we are already planning our next one.

    Our Navigational Surprise

    Had we approached ascent of Sivri from its north side then I don’t think we’d have missed this clue that this area is the base of Turkish Commando Unit.

    Güçlüyüz, cesuruz ve hazırız (we are strong, we are brave, we are ready) but not apparently for three sexagenarian hikers.

    Anyway, just one sign at the top of the mountain road would have kept us from accidentally walking into the Commando base. Maybe I should drop a line to them ….

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    Selge – Saturday 13 October

    We left the wonderful pension run by very hospitable Erdinç and Erdine Barca and made our way to Selge which once was a powerful city that rivalled the Lycian Thermessos.

    The smell of Cliff’s Boots was evidently Taurus’s stimulation for his later attempt to roger the life out of Cliff (having first tried it on with Bob)

    On arrival at Selge we enjoyed a Turkish coffee in the little cafe outside the theatre where were were plagued by some hawkers who the cafe owner said we should be wary of. The eastern wall of the theatre is a complete ruin though most of the seated area is still relatively in tact.

    Selge Theatre

    There were no maps or signs for the remainder of the city but we soon found a track up the hillside which led to the the ruins. There was little information about the site and it was difficult to establish what some of the structures were.

    Unidentified Ruin

    Northern Gate and Temple to Rear

    We spent Saturday evening wandering around the streets of Manavgat where we were treated to a mini feast at Çorbacı Ali’s Esnaf Lokantası (Soup-maker Ali’s Worker’s Restaurant). We then found a seat in a cafe and spent a good hour or so relaxing listening to live Turkish folk music trio.

    Aspendos – Sunday 15 October

    Though I’m not sure whether or not Aspendos was visited by St Paul, it was part of Pamphylia and we virtually passed it on our return to the airport so a visit was essential for us.

    Information Plaque

    Aspendos Theatre

    What makes this site so different from the others we’ve seen this week is that the massive theatre and its eastern facia had been renovated and hence it is in a virtually complete and usable condition. So little imagination is required to envisage how it would have looked in Roman times.

    Theatre Scaenae Frons

    Much of the rest of the site has been destroyed though it is possible to see just how big the basilica and the sheer enormity of the works required to construct the very high and long aqueduct.

    Basilica

    Aqueduct

    Antioch (Pisidia) and the Temple of Men – Friday 12 October

    Arriving at Antioch we first walked up to remains of the Roman viaduct which had supplied their city with water from ten kilometres away. One short section of arches remain though we didn’t have time to explore the remaining parts.

    Antioch Viaduct

    We then explored the main city using the site plan and bilingual information boards which gave a good description of the main buildings and structures. (The brochures we received were in Turkish.)

    Roman Inscription at Antioch

    Theatre in Antioch

    When we arrived we saw what looked like a party of hard-hatted students looking over an area of the site but when we got to the place they’d left. Here a number of workers were excavating and possibly rebuilding parts of the St Paul’s Basilica.

    The most glorious period of Antioch’s history was time immediately after its incorporation into the Roman Empire. Ancient Greek buildings were demolished, and impressive public buildings were erected in their place. Antioch was an excellent example of symbiosis of Greek and Roman culture. Its constitution was adapted from the original Greek one and the city council (boule) still met. The officials were appointed by Rome, but had Greek titles. The official language of the inscriptions and documents was Latin, but Greek was frequently used in everyday affairs. The city retained the status of a colony for over 200 years.

    Apse of the St Paul’s Basilica in Antioch

    We refreshed ourselves in the town of Yalvaç and then made our way to the Temple of Men which was an ancient temple made by Anatolians in honour of the moon gods. This had been largely destroyed by earthquakes and later Christians though parts are being recovered and excavated by the Turkish Ministry of Culture (which also has a centre at Antioch). Carved bull heads were also a predominant theme at both these locations as their horns represent the elipse of the moon.

    Temple of Men Foundation

    Men was one of the most mysterious deities worshipped in Asia Minor. His cult as a god of the moon was widespread especially in the western parts of Anatolia. The Temple of Men in Antioch was a peripteros in the Ionic order. Along its longer walls there were 11 columns, and along the shorter walls – 6 columns. The building stood on the podium with dimensions of 31 to 17.5 meters. On the walls surrounding the sacred district or temenos many inscriptions and symbols of the moon, probably left there by pilgrims, were discovered. In addition to the ruins of the temple in this location, it is possible to see several other buildings, including the houses of priests and guest rooms.

    Moon Inscription on Eastern Wall Of Temple of Men

    Eğirdir and Prostanna Thursday 11 October

    We set off walking from the Göl Pension on Yeşilada aiming to climb the pass near Sivri mountain and find the ruins of the ancient city of Prostanna. The day proved a bit more adventurous that imagined.

    An Elderly Turkish Lady Gives Up Her Seat To Much Younger (But Possibly More Aged) Englishman

    A moment of comedy occurred outside of the pension when Cliff put his boots on. The elderly mother of the three sisters who ran the place was sitting watching us and when she realised Cliff was suffering from a bad back jumped up and offered her seat to him.

    The first part of our walk took us over the causeway to the town where we enjoyed passing through the weekly market that is set up around the castle every Thursday. Then we climbed the main road out of town which was far too busy for our liking. Soon we were on the St Paul’s Way, though travelling in the opposite direction to most hikers.

    View of Eğirdir and Yeşilada (centre)

    A steep climb up an old stoney track across open pastures led us to the pass between the top of the Sivri mountain (at 1725 metres asl) and the adjacent mountain’s peak. Here, on the spur up to the Sivri peak we found some of the remains of Prostanna which was known to the Romans. Little of recognition survives to these days though we enjoyed our picnic on some of the old foundations stones.

    The Pisidian city of Prostanna is mentioned in only two literary sources: Ptolemy (V, 5, 7) gives it as Prostama, while the list of bishops attending the Council of Constantinople in 381 includes Attalus Prostamensis among the Pisidian bishops.

    The only official inscription mentioning it is one from Delos, in which the Demos of the Prostaenneis honoured a quaestor propraetore of the Province Asia in 113 B.C. The comparatively numerous coins give the name as Prostanna, and some of them bear representations of a conical mountain entitled Viaros (Οὐιαρος) or of a river-god Tioulos.

    Some parts of this area had clearly been used for military exercises (clue no 1) though there were no warning sign evident.

    Prostanna Antik Kent

    I had previously decided to make this a circular walk and planned to make our descent to Eğirdir via the roads to the north of the mountain. We were soon walking on a wide newly asphalted road which led down to the town though bizarrely it carried no traffic (clue number 2) apart from what was to follow.

    After some time a white people carrier came down the hillside towards us. As it looked like there was going to be a massive storm and drops of rain had already started to fall so I tried to wave the vehicle down but the soldiers inside ignored us. Then a cavalcade of military vehicles passed us too with some top brass and even an ambulance following (clue no 3).

    We made a few jokes about this then realised the gravity of our navigational blunder as we rounded a corner to meet a road-block barrier and armed soldiers guarding the entry into the area that we were walking through. Whoops!

    The first helmeted guard looked a bit shocked and grasping his rifle close to his chest answered my Turkish greeting. His blue beret wearing superior ran into the guard house and soon came out to ask us, in Turkish, one of the funniest questions your could imagine. “Asker misiniz?” which means “are you soldiers?” Well Cliff was wearing a khaki foreign legion cap and I had a green rucksack but they were the only clues to our latent military capabilities. Actually by this stage Cliff’s back was so bad he need walking poles to walk with. My left ankle was hurting from an old injury so I had a slightly lilted gait and Bob is nearer 70 than 60. So how, even for one minute, he thought we could be soldiers escapes me. Maybe he needed to go to Specsavers. Anyway, I said “no” and they waved us out of the military zone onto the public highway. (I’ve been wondering what would’ve actually happened had I said “yes”).

    Making jokes about daring to have said we were in the Greek, Russian or Israeli army we followed the road in to the city. For safety’s sake we walked on the other side of the Armco barrier to the traffic but this led us past the lower part of the military base and along an encampment where armed guards were positioned in foxholes and lookout posts. This was quite scary as they waved us away and started getting very agitated as we couldn’t move any further away as that would have meant crossing over the safety barrier into the lanes of very fast moving traffic. I’m not saying I was frightened but I actually put my hands up in surrender at one point! It had now started to rain though and I really really wanted to put on my anorak but it was in my green (and very military looking) backpack and I didn’t want them to think I was reaching for my Uzi 9mm or folding mortar. Anyway hurrying down the hillside as fast as the steep broken surfaces allowed we were soon out of trouble again, or so we thought …. We managed to get off the main highway and into a small suburb where we thought we could relax at last. Then a plain white van pulled up and its near-side window wound down. Two men in a serious manner announced themselves as police and asked to see our passports. They produced their ID and many questions ensued though I don’t think they took too much convincing that we were not in the army, Mossad agents or members of the Russian GRU or even terrorists. Their stance soon softened and they actually invited us back to their station for tea and apples. Of course we daren’t decline.

    Pednelissos – Tuesday 9 October

    We hadn’t been able to book our accommodation in Kozan as I couldn’t get anyone to answer one of my nine phone calls to the only place with rooms in the vicinity of the Adada ruins. Hasgebe is mentioned in the guide book as having accommodation though nothing appears to be available there now. So, after a two hour drive on challenging roads and with dusk fast approaching it was a great relief to find Süleyman and Gonca had spare rooms. Of course we were made very welcome. Supper was based on fresh trout and was wonderful. At breakfast we were serenaded by Süleyman playing folk songs on his bağlama.

    Süleyman the Magnificent

    Adada – Agora Entrance (Unconfirmed)

    The ruins here are quite overgrown, derelict and appear to be totally unrestored. However, there is a wonderful relief statue of Apollo holding an olive branch carved on a rock.

    On our return to Kozan we used a trail that was marked on my GAIA map as the St Paul’s Way. This route differs slightly from the GPS route given in Kate Clow’s book. Due to this, the trail we took is probably less well used and soon became very overgrown and indistinct and we kept veering off it and had to struggle through dense bushes in places, getting snagged on thorn bushes too. This other version of the SPW is marked with yellow dots in places so it’s worth bearing this in mind as you could easily be misled by the painted dots.

    On our journey north we decided to visit Çadır where we stayed at the Can brothers trout farm and just managed a quick walk to Yazılı Kanyon before the heavens opened.

    Yazılı Kanyon, Çandır

    İsmail (Can from Canlar Alabalık Otel) seemed unable to convince Cliff and Bob that the berries were ripe enough to eat.