Monday, 31 October 2011

Latvia, Georgia and Turkey Pt. 5: Doğubeyazıt, Van and Diyarbakır

Part Five of my Summer 2010 trip




Links to all parts of this travelogue:

Part 1: Riga, Sigulda and Turaida

Part 2: Tbilisi, Mtskheta and Kazbegi

Part 3: Tbilisi, Gori and Uplistsikhe

Part 4: Batumi, Kars and Ani

Part 5: Doğubeyazit, Van and Diyarbakır

Part 6: Urfa, Haran and Adana

Part 7: Ankara and Istanbul

2nd August, 2010 – Kars, Turkey
Much as I liked Kars, I’d exhausted her major attractions and my schedule demanded that I had to be moving on, so I packed up my things, (minus Fury which, now read, I left for future travellers), and made my way to the bus station to catch my transportation onwards to Doğubeyazıt.
The journey there, some 240km, was not the most straightforward to complete. There were no buses plying the route and so instead I had to take a dolmuş – the Turkish equivalent of a marshrutka – but that only took me as far as Iğdır, a scratty town about halfway along the journey. There one of my fellow passengers grabbed me by the arm and dragged me down several crowded streets to another corner where a different dolmuş was waiting ready to take passengers onwards to Doğubeyazıt.
The driver from Iğdır to Doğubeyazıt was spectacular. The landscape had changed yet again; gone was the steppe and in its place a barren, rocky moonscape that felt decidedly Middle Easter. Most striking of all though was the great snow-capped mountain that lay to our left and over the foothills of which our dolmuş had to labour. That mountain was Ararat.
Ararat, Ararat, is there any mountain on earth more impregnated with history, faith and tragic symbolism as her? That great peak on which legend tells us that Noah’s Ark rested after the Deluge had for millennia been the very symbol of Armenian spirituality and nation. There she sits, proud and brooding, her peak a whopping 5,137m above sea level (Mt. Kazbek incidentally, was but 5,047m), dominating the horizon of Yerevan and yet, like Ani, just over the border in Turkey and frustratingly out of bounds to the Armenians for whom she means so much.
The moment I stepped off the dolmuş in Doğubeyazıt I felt as if I’d crossed over an unseen border into a different country. This place felt different to both Kars and Hopa; there was a different language spoken on the streets, everything was poorer and less-organised and the women – and there were very few to be seen – all wore headscarves.[1] It was also unbearably hot, (Kars had been a tad cooler than the places visited before and afterwards), and to my annoyance, as I searched for a hotel, I was accosted by a young and very persistent gentleman who wished to be my friend and give me a very good price on a night’s accommodation in a fashion that reminded me of the hustlers of Morocco and Egypt. Needless to say, we did not stay friends for long!
I booked into the Hotel Erzurum, a no-frills establishment that sufficed although that was about all that one could say about it. I relaxed for a while to recover from the journey, heat and hassle, and then, when sufficiently rejuvenated, headed out again to sample the delights of this new town, my first experience of Kurdistan.[2] My first Kurdish experience however, came quicker than I’d anticipated when I reached the town’s main square which I found to be full with an excited crowd of several thousand who were busying chanting “BDP! BDP!” and punching their fists into the air. The reason for all this commotion was a bus parked at the far side of the square on which dignitaries and major figures from the BDP political party were sat whilst their leader delivered a stirring speech.
The BDP, (Barış ve Demokrasi PartisiPeace and Democracy Party in English), is the latest in a long line of Kurdish nationalist parties, successors to the now-outlawed PKK, (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan – Kurdistan Workers’ Party), whose guerrillas waged a sixteen-year struggle against the Turkish government for an independent Kurdish state. Although the war was ultimately unsuccessful, (i.e. there is still no Kurdish state), things have improved and this is partially due to the Kurds seeking a political solution to their woes through organs such as the BDP. Previously the Turkish government, (inspired by the teachings of Kemal Atatürk who needed to weld a nation out of the disparate peoples of the dying Ottoman Empire and did so by stating that all inhabitants of the new country were ‘Turks’), had not even recognised the existence of the Kurds as a people, (they were termed ‘Mountain Turks’ and their language, music, festivals and culture effectively banned from national life. Now however, things are changing; the Kurds have much greater cultural and national autonomy in the areas where they live and seem to have accepted that the independent Republic of Kurdistan is not going to happen anytime soon,[3] probably the best solution when one considers the economic prospects that any Kurdish state would have compared with the vast wealth of the Republic of Turkey. Even so, judging by the rhetoric and reactions at that BDP rally in central Doğubeyazıt, all is not entirely hunky-dory with the Kurds of Eastern Turkey.
BDP rally, Doğubeyazıt
I took a taxi out to Doğubeyazıt’s main attraction, the İshak Paşa Palace, which is located some 6km out of the town. The drive, although short, was interesting. We travelled in between army bases including one where tanks were lined up under tin roofs. I decided to count them and reached forty but there were many more besides that that I didn’t manage to clock.[4]
Ever since entering Turkey, the military presence had been omnipresent and somewhat oppressive. It was not a total surprise of course, when one considers that the areas that I’d travelled through were either close to the national borders or in the areas with a Kurdish majority, (Doğubeyazıt fell very much into both categories), so a heavy military presence was to be expected, but nonetheless, when one considers that I’d just come from a militarised state that had just fought a war with a major world power and whose borders were amongst the most threatened on earth, then one must wonder as to why the military is so ever-present in Turkey which has not fought an (external) war since the Invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Indeed, the only country that I’ve ever travelled to that felt as overtly militarised as Turkey’s Eastern Provinces is Israel which is somewhat worrying when one considers that this is a country that wishes to become an EU member.
There were signs everywhere warning against photographing the tanks and other military paraphernalia and as these were obviously not the kind of guys you’d want to mess with I kept my camera packed away, but a short time later it was taken out and a few images were snapped of the majestic Mt. Ararat, the beautiful setting of Noah’s Ark’s final resting placed being further improved by placing a fat Stoke fan in front of it.
Stokies here, Stokies there, Stokies even as far away as Ararat!
The İshak Paşa Palace is one of the great sights, not only of Doğubeyazıt, but indeed Turkey as a whole. It was begun by one Çolak Abdi Paşa, the bey of Beyazıt Province, in 1685 and completed by his grandson, İshak Paşa, in 1784. Impossibly romantic, its architecture is a mixture of Seljuk, Ottoman, Georgian, Armenian and Persian styles whilst its setting, on a cliff top overlooking a vast plain with the city of Doğubeyazıt far below, is spectacular. Architectural historians like to compare it with the Brighton pavilion which was built at a similar and also employs a variety of exotic styles. Looking up as we approached, I had to admit that the İshak Paşa was more spectacular to behold than its English counterpart. That said though, if one were to place a block of council flats in that particular spot, they would outshine most of the world’s finest palaces.
The İshak Paşa Palace
The İshak Paşa Palace is featured in the Turkish Tourist Board’s promotional films but when we got there it seemed as if tourists were not really wanted for the grand palace doors were locked and there was no one in sight with a key. I knocked loudly but there was no response so I waited outside the spectacular Seljuk-style gateway to see if anyone would come. Very soon several people did, but they were all other tourists, mainly domestic but also a pair of über-trendy  twenty-somethings who pulled up in a small car plastered with stickers proclaiming that they were participants in the Mongol Rally.
Tourists massing outside there may have been, but there was still no action from the inside and so after about half an hour of waiting I realised that I was not going to be able to compare the interior of the İshak Paşa with the Brighton pavilion and so I got back in my taxi and returned to Doğubeyazıt.
There was little to see or do in the town itself. Doğubeyazıt is a scratty, soulless place; unsurprising perhaps when one considers that it is essentially a new town after the old city of Beyazıt was destroyed in 1930 by the Turkish Army following a Kurdish rebellion, (the name of the modern city, Doğubeyazıt, literally means East- Beyazıt, although confusingly, it lies to the west of the original settlement). It consists of one major street, Dr. İsmael Beşikçı Caddesi, along which I wandered, visiting the post office, a general store for some fruit juice and an internet café where I uploaded all my photos onto the internet so as to free up some camera memory.
Near to the dolmuş drop-off point I met a man who bade me sit with him and offered me tea. I was wary, not wishing to be subjected to the hard-sell but at the same time eager to meet the locals, but thankfully he just wanted to chat about football (Tuncay once again broke the ice for me) before moving onto the subject of an Armenian lady whom he’d met when she’d visited the town a year before. This piqued my interest – Turkish-Armenian friendships in the area where some of the worst of the atrocities of 1915 had taken place, (Beyazıt had been predominantly Armenian prior to the massacres), but he had only thoughts of friendship, not hatred, perhaps due to the fact that he rather fancied her. He asked if I would help him writie a letter in English for her, a task that I certainly did not mind assisting with and so we composed a somewhat sentimental yet heartfelt note of friendship with undertones of possible romance and I left glad that I’d been able to play a part, albeit tiny, in improving Turko-Armenian relations.
I rested in the hotel and then went out again at night to eat and stroll only to find that the Dr. İsmael Beşikçı Caddesi had been transformed. Tables now filled the thoroughfare and all were packed with people playing backgammon, drinking coffee and talking. Unlike Western Turkey though, both alcohol and women were conspicuous by their absence save for on a couple of tables occupied by foreign tourists, the first I’d encountered since Gori. I however, was still tired and in no mood to join them so after a pleasant walk up and down the street and a refuelling at a restaurant, I retired to bed under the watchful gaze of Mt. Ararat.

3rd August, 2010 – Doğubeyazıt, Turkey
My next destination was the city of Van, some 185km to the south. I was now stuck into the part of my trip that entailed constant travelling that would not abate until I reached Istanbul. Worse still, I knew that most of that would have to be covered by road, not rail, which is far more arduous. Still, best to be getting on with it…
At the bus company’s office I met another traveller, a German gentleman name Holger Brune. Holger was a freelance photographer from Bochum who was travelling around Turkey. He too had encountered the BDP rally the day before and being both a Turkish speaker – he held a Masters in Oriental Studies and his wife was Turkish – and connected with the media had meant that he’d been invited to board the bus and chat with the BDP grandees whilst photographing the whole thing, an experience that had thrilled him.[5]
My acquaintanceship with Mr. Brune however, was put on hold for the next few hours as the bus had numbered seats and there was no possibility of sitting near to each other and so instead I continued reading my latest book, a somewhat sentimental account of how the author, a Latvian ex-pat named Alexander Kosogorin, had spent World War II. Although the book was poorly written, it did tell a very different story of the war to those one more commonly comes across. Kosogorin, like most Latvians, had resented the Soviet annexation of his country in 1940 and had signed up to fight for the Germans in an all-Russian-speaking brigade which, (according to Kosogorin at least), fought very bravely against the Red Army and never suspected that such terrible crimes as the Holocaust were being perpetrated by their Nazi masters. In the end though, as the Soviets closed in, Kosogorin retreated to Switzerland before eventually ending up in Britain where he claimed political asylum and lived out the rest of his days. Having just come from Latvia made the book more real and alive – I could imagine Kosogorin and his brigade fighting in those vast forests near Sigulda – but the poor quality of the writing and annoying attitudes of the author made me glad when I eventually finished it.
The scenery on this leg of the trip was stark and dull, but an hour before the city of Van came into view, Lake Van filled the horizon. This vast inland sea that stretches for some 74 miles softened the dry landscape considerably and I was glad when we pulled up for a drinks break at a café on its banks and I shared tea with Holger and two young Kurds who were on their way to university in Istanbul.
The city of Van was much larger than I’d anticipated; with around half a million souls, a veritable metropolis compared with Doğubeyazıt. Holger and I decided to share a room to cut costs and we ended up paying a paltry 15 lira p/p/p/n at a budget establishment named the Otel Aslan.[6] We then took a bus out to Van Castle, a vast Urartian fortress dating back to the 9th century BC. At its foot was a Sufi türbe which interested Holger greatly since he is a practicing Sufi. After praying at the türbe we climbed up to the ramparts which were far more impressive from afar than close up. Nonetheless, the castle afforded some spectacular views across the modern city in one direction and across the lake in the other, whilst immediately below stood the ruins of ancient Van, a city that was destroyed in 1920 following the massacre of its Armenian population. Now all that remains as testament are lines in the sand and a handful of ruined mosques (two restored). It was very moving particularly in the evening light, a time that Holger informed me photographers call ’The Magical Hour’ because of the incredible pictures that can only be realised in that short period.
Ancient Van with the lake beyond
Upon those ramparts as the sun slowly set, we met an Iranian gentleman who conversed at length with Holger in Turkish about both Iran and Turkey. It was clear to see that whilst I’d had few problems with using English since hitting Turkey, speaking the language would have made the whole experience so much more rich and fulfilling as Holger managed to fall into conversation with just about everyone he came across and was constantly getting invited to events or houses. Of course, living in a country with a huge Turkish minority and having a Turkish wife helps no end when it comes to learning the lingo, but even so, I must admit to feeling a tad jealous of his gateway into the world of the Turk that was largely closed to me.
On Van Castle with the city in the background
We took the bus back into the city and decided to sit out and drink, finding a pleasant little establishment that served a wide variety of teas, not all of which were pleasant. Holger proved to be excellent company. He was exceptionally well-travelled having spent three years in his youth riding a pushbike across the USA to Mexico and having undertaken countless backpacking trips since including a lengthy one around Sumatra which interested me greatly since I’ve long harboured desires to explore that island. His three main passions in life were (in ascending order) photography, spirituality and sex and he was quite at ease in mixing all three liberally. Although happily married, he conversed freely about a variety of extramarital liaisons including one with a former student and another with a lady in her sixties who was most knowledgeable in the art of Tantric Sex. As we chatted he would regularly pause to admire a passing Van beauty and when I got home and visited his photography website, I can truly say that I have never seen such a vast collection of artistically photographed hot women.[7]
Religion wise, Holger had converted to Islam in order to marry his Muslim wife, but his interpretation of the faith was one that would lead most imams towards pronouncing a fatwa as he had a penchant for goddess worship and declared that the Kaaba symbolises a vagina. I however, warmed to it; his Islam was non-judgemental, non-literalist and inclusive, part of the beautiful and rich Sufi tradition that once held huge influence across the Islamic World but is these days alas under attack from the puritanical Salafists and Wahaabis who are more interested in following a set of rules like the Pharisees of the Gospels rather than undertaking a spiritual journey.
Following the tea we moved onto a soup kitchen where we nibbled çorba and bread into the night and saw, unfortunately, the cook get badly burnt when a pot was knocked over and have to be rushed to hospital, before retiring to the hotel for a session of folk singing. It was in truth, just what I needed; some real human contact. After days alone on the road I needed a chance to share some of the incredible places and experiences that I’d seen and enjoyed whilst so far away from home.

4th August, 2010 – Van, Turkey
Whilst Holger was keen on visiting some scenic villages near to Van, I had a tight schedule to follow, (and to be honest, wasn’t really in the mood), so I took a bus onwards to Diyarbakır, a seven-hour trip of over 400km that I neither looked forward to nor enjoyed. By now I was getting heartily fed up of the long bus journeys and empty arid scenery which was all beginning to blur into one. Besides, I slowly realised that I had fallen ill and sitting on a jolting hot bus was not the quickest road to recovery.
Dull though the scenery may have been, that trip still had its high points. For the first hundred miles or so we skirted the southern shores of Lake Van and at one point I spied the Akdamar Kilisesi (Church of the Holy Cross), a famous Armenian church and monastery situated out on a small island offshore.
The other highlight was the small town of Bitlis, unmentioned in the guidebook but fascinating to look at through the bus window. Situated in a narrow canyon and built out of dark basalt, I spied several Ottoman mosques, hammams and bridges. I would have loved to stop off and explore, but time pressed and so I stayed on board.
Nearer to Diyarbakır we travelled alongside the Tigris, one of the great rivers of antiquity that helped to sustain some of the earliest human habitations and indeed, if one believes the legends, the Garden of Eden itself. The section that I saw however, was alas, nothing special, merely a wide and stony river, the main point of interest being that the fantastically-named city of Batman was located on its banks, although like the river, the reality of that town was a lot less exciting than the images that its name might conjure up.
Diyarbakır, when I got there, was big, much bigger than I’d expected. Of course, as the uno0fficial capital of the Kurdish lands, I’d known that it would be a fairly large place but after disembarking at the modern bus station on the edge of town I was surprised that the ride in on a local bus took in about five miles of densely-packed apartment blocks and by the time we arrived at the large square outside the ancient city walls it was growing dark. I alighted and got accosted by two hawkers wishing to both be my friend and sell me a hotel room for the night, but I fended them off by heading into the medina and, after getting slightly lost, found myself at a hotel which was pleasant enough and charged me 35 lira p/n for bed and breakfast. By that time the illness was really kicking in and I was shattered and so, even though the hour was but eight, I flung myself gratefully into bed and got lost in chaotic dreams.

5th August, 2010 -  Diyarbakır, Turkey
I awoke from a night of disturbed dreams feeling somewhat better but still rather queasy. This was not helped by the free hotel breakfast of cheese, tomatoes, bread, olives and cucumber which I could barely stomach. Still, it was sustenance and thus refuelled I stepped out to explore the city of Diyarbakır.
Diyarbakır is a Kurdish city. Its population is predominantly Kurdish and when the PKK and the insurgent forces in Iraq were dreaming of establishing an independent Kurdistan, the Diyarbakır was always going to be its capital. However, as I walked through the narrow streets of the Old City that sunny August day, I did not feel the atmosphere to be Kurdish in the sense of Doğubeyazıt or Van, but instead distinctly Arabian and Middle Eastern.
The reasons behind that were obvious. Diyarbakır is a typical Middle Eastern cuity, surrounded by walls, its dense medina criss-crossed with hundreds of tiny, twisting alleyways along which one can get lost in minutes. It is also a Roman City, neatly dissected like Jerusalem into four quarters by a north-south road and an east-way way. But there was nonetheless, one big difference between Diyarbakır and Fez, Jerusalem, Marrakesh or any of the other ancient Middle Eastern medina cities that I’ve visited and that is the very stone that she is constructed out of. The forbidding dark grey basalt of the walls is predominant, (most Middle Eastern cities seem to be built out fo honey-coloured or light-grey stones), but ornamentation is provided by alternating the basalt with an almost-white limestone so that the mosques and their minarets look like accessories to some heavenly game of backgammon.
On the main north-south drag I came across the Hasan Paşa Hanı, a 16th century caravanserai that has been beautifully restored since the troubles of the 1990s and now houses some upmarket cafés and shops. I could have spent all day lounging on a chair there, watching the world go by out of the glare of the midday sun, but I pressed on, through the bazaar, to the city’s most impressive mosque, the Ulu Cami, which was built in 1091 by the Seljuks but incorporates a much earlier Byzantine church and is said to be the oldest place of Islamic worship in Turkey. The Seljuk courtyard was magnificent with some stunning carving, but I went into the mosque itself and sat in the part which had once been a church to enjoy the quiet and try to imagine what the layout had been like prior to its conversion to a mosque, a task which proved to be virtually impossible.
The Hasan Paşa Hanı
The Ulu Cami. The original church is the taller part of the building in the centre
After the Ulu Camii I headed for the Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı Museum, a restored traditional house set around a courtyard that was decidedly pleasant and reminded me of the ethnographic museums of the Balkans.
Having had a taste of Islam, I then headed along the east-west road, past the curious Four-Legged Minaret of the Kasım Padişah Camii (1512) to the area of the city that best gives a taste of Diyarbakır’s other religion, Christianity. There are very few Christians in Diyarbakır today, but once there were many and the few surviving churches act as a testament to the faith that once dominated the region. The Keldani Kilisesi was an incredible building dating from the 3rd century and used by the city’s Chaldean community, an ancient church that practises the Syrian rite but is in communion with Rome. Next I sought out the Armenian church but that was closed for restorations and so instead I popped into the Esma Ocak Evi Museum, a 19th century Armenian mansion whose curator enthusiastically gave me a guided tour and then demanded a hefty donation for the service.
I wandered slowly through the twisting alleyways adorned with PKK slogans towards the kale, stopping at mosques en route, (the wudu fountains were perfect for keeping me cool and hydrated!). The main attraction of the kale itself is another mosque, the Hazreti Süleyman Camii which dates from the 12th century and is particularly revered by the locals since it contains the tombs of several Sahabeh or Companions of the Prophet, (these were warriors who had been killed taking the city for the Muslims soon after Mohammed’s death). When I got there the place was teeming with worshippers, (who were all far more interested in the tombs than the mosque itself), but the building was nothing remarkable save for an extremely slender minaret.
After the kale, I went back to the centre of the Old City and then ventured into the south-western quarter where the Meryem Ana Kilisesi is located. The incredible church is one of the oldest in all Christendom dating from the 3rd century but built on the foundations of a 1st century BC Pagan temple and it is used by the Syrian Orthodox – or Syriac – Church, one of the few Monophysite churches left in the world.[8] I had never before been in a Syriac church, (there is one in Jerusalem but I hadn’t had time to visit it), so I was interested to see this, one of the closest physical, liturgical and theological links with the misty years of the Early Church.
The door was locked when I arrived but a crowd of local children rang the bell repeatedly until the priest came. I apologised for the intrusion but he said that it didn’t matter and happily gave me a guided tour. During this he explained that the Syriac liturgy was in Aramaic which enthralled me as this is the very language that Christ Himself spoke. I asked if he wouldn’t mind reading a passage from one of the Gospels for me and there, in a spot where Christians worshipped less than a generation after Christ, I heard the message that He preached in the very same words that He used. It was a moving experience.
Outside the Meryam Ana Kilisesi
In the courtyard outside the church I met two fellow tourists, both Turks from Istanbul who, by their appearance, looked very secular and Kemalist. We left the Meryam Ana Kilisesi together and the waiting kids guided us across the road to another church, a newly-established Protestant house of worship. As it was, this new building was of little interest to me being both familiar and not always impressed with both the Evangelical style and theology. However, as the pastor enthusiastically handed my two companions copies of the Gospels in Turkish, I had to admit that whilst the Syrian Orthodox Church had been beautiful and moving, it was also stagnant at best and – with but seven families attending these days – dying at worst, whilst the Evangelicals were growing, enthusiastically promoting the Way of Christ. Who therefore was better keeping the commandment, “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples”?[9] I knew the answer and it did not make me comfortable.
By this time I was tired of sight-seeing, so I exited the Old City and walked in the shade of the great basalt walls to the place where the buses left for the newer districts of the city. Still slightly ill, I craved some Western food to settle my stomach and recalled passing a fast food establishment on my way in on the bus the day before, so I jumped on another bus and headed out to modernity.
Unfortunately, I got on the wrong one and instead of fast food restaurants I was treated to a grand tour of the soulless modern estates of apartment blocks that house the majority of Diyarbakır’s population these days. Still, I appreciated the chance to sit and the cooling effect of the air con but half an hour later I admitted defeat and jumped off at Ekinciler Caddesi (Modern Diyarbakır’s main shopping street) and went for a kebab.
That evening, after a rejuvenating nap in my hotel, I headed back to my favourite place in Diyarbakır, the magnificent Hasan Paşa Hanı which once stabled camels and now serves coffee. Relaxing in one of the comfortable chairs with an apple tea and a nargile, I began to reall relax and enjoy the ambience, a truly Middle Eastern ambience that I found altogether agreeable.
A local Kurd named Ahmet Sezer came across and talked to me. He was friendly and intelligent lad who proved to be good company. I told him about my trip and my intention to visit Urfa next because of its connections with the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) but to my surprise he was dismissive and doubted the city’s holiness. He questioned how they knew that Abraham had actually been born in a cave there as there was no historical evidence to support it and instead told me that I should go to the Göbekli Tepe instead. I had never heard of this site and he explained that it was a prehistoric temple that had only recently been excavated and was now considered the oldest building in the world. I promised to seek it out if I had time, but to my regret I did not and missed out the chance to look at this remarkable place.
Our conversation moved onto politics and Ahmet expressed a dislike for Atatürk because of his refusal to recognise the Kurds as a people, but at the same time he was glad that the killings were over even if he did agree with most of the aims of the PKK. Finally he recommended that I try menengla kahve, a coffee made from pistachio nuts and without caffeine. It was indeed excellent and capped off a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I left, nargile smoked and coffee drunk feeling much better than I had when I’d woken up that morning and that night I fell into a beautiful deep sleep.

[1] A note should be made here as to how the Kurdish women wear their headscarves. Rather than tying their hair back in a ponytail, they pile it up on their heads and then wrap the scarf over it. The effect is a little akin to that of the headdresses of English women in the Middle Ages.
[2] May I just state clearly here, that my use of that term does not in any way infer that I support an independent Kurdish state. I merely use it as a geographical and cultural label, largely because, as I have already discussed, this part of Turkish is markedly different in culture to the rest.
[3] A similar story can be told about the Kurds in neighbouring Northern Iraq. After decades of oppression by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime they now enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy.
[4] To put this into context, the British Army has around 400 tanks in total and the Turkish Army around 3,000 so this was a considerable base.
[6] The name Aslan is of course famous in the West as being that of the great talking lion in the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. The word however, is actually the Turkish term for ‘lion’ and was also applied to great leaders of the Seljuk and Ottoman Eras.
[8] Unlike the vast majority of Christians who believe that Christ has both a divine nature and a human nature, the Monophysites maintain that Christ is only divine, (the word ‘Monophysite’ literally means ‘One Nature’). During the early years of the Church there was much debate over this matter and at times the Monophysites held sway over the majority of the Christian World. These days however, they are few in number and their churches are declining. Aside from the Syrian Orthodox other surviving Monophysite churches include the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church and the Ethiopian Church.
[9] Matthew 28:19

1 comment:

  1. Mount Ararat Trek