Even if you are a rookie as regards the history of Turkey, there is one person you cannot ignore: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As the founding father of the Republic of Turkey (1923) and its first president, his name pops up everywhere in public life: names of streets and parks, stadiums and schools all proudly carry his name. Also his image can be found all around town: statues of Atatürk are located near town and village squares and his head adorns the inner walls of many residential and public buildings in the Republic he created. Thanks to Hakan, even my hat displays the signature of this man, who still is the ultimate rolemodel for many inhabitants of Turkey.
"There is one person you cannot ignore: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk"
Many of the Turkish people I have spoken to, explain Turkey in terms of west and east. Whilst the western part has seen a gradual urbanization and an increasing number of young people find their way to the city and the educational institutions, the east mainly thrives on its farming communities. Be that as it may, also the western part is filled with numerous villages, the inhabitants of which earn their money by working the field and keeping their livestock. Tractors, parked on the sides of the streets, are found all over the place. Every morning, these tractors tow trailers, full with women and children, on their way to the farming fields. When visiting less touristic archaeological sites in Pisidia, don’t be surprised to encounter a herdsman taking his goats out for a delicious meal.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk The farming community in Yariköy
Villagers in Gönen
The village's public spaces form the heart of the community. These spaces at least comprise a main square including a small park as well as the local 'Pazar'. The latter consists of a huge space covered by a, not all too beautiful, metal roof work. Here, the farmers sell their products, as people flock around the numerous stalls with fruits, vegetables, spices and potatoes, clothing and other paraphernalia. In the meantime, the terraces in the parks enable people to enjoy their well-deserved rest. In the shadow of the trees, the (male) villagers, often of a respectable age, gather to have a chat, whilst enjoying a cup of tea. 'Okey' (Rummikub) and 'Tavla' (Backgammon) are the most popular games played in these environments. If you would like to break away from the rush of the city life or the burning heat of the sun, these terraces are the places where you have to go. Just take another cup of tea, and do not forget to bring your cigarettes: if not for yourself, then at least for the people around you. You will definitely make some friends, since the vast majority of the Turkish population knows how to enjoy a smoke.
"A little showcase of local village history"
If you ever end up in one of these villages, please check out the archaeological material (often dating to the Roman period) in the little parks. If it has not been transferred to neighbouring museums, the locally discovered material is often lined up around the central spaces: a little showcase of local village history. In addition, throughout the centuries after Roman dominion, people have reused the Roman remains as building material, for their bath houses and residences for instance. In archaeological and art-historical discourse, these reused stones are referred to as 'spolia'. Just walk around the village, have a look at the walls and you will recognize multiple Roman columns, architectural elements, funerary stones and the like, built into the wall in one way or another. The historical heritage of Turkey is all around..
The Pazar of Burdur Humzah in front of a house at Yariköy. A Roman funerary altar is visible at the bottom corner