Evliya Celebi Way Hike Route
Evliya çelebi was an adventurer from Turkey who travelled far and wide and explored places for leisure and business. He often documented his travels, some of which can be found in the Seyahatname or Book of Travels. Today, the work of a travel writer is synonymous with that of Evliya Celebi in Turkey. When people recall the name, they also imagine a man riding challenging terrains on horseback and finding new places that his countrymen would’ve never dreamed of.
The Evliya Celebi Way was waymarked and brought to life in 2011. The trail follows the original 1671 route that Evliya Celebi took for his pilgrimage from Istanbul to Mecca. The journey begins in Hersek, a village near the city of Yalova and ends in Simav.
This journey covers 330 kilometres of the northwestern Anatolian region of Turkey and takes about 22 days to cover on foot. The Ottoman traveller initially made the entire journey by riding a horse, which is still a popular option today. If you choose to follow in his footsteps, then the journey takes about 25 days to complete and covers 650 kilometres, including the flat sections that you would miss on foot. Biking options are also available for adventurers looking to mix a touch of joy riding to their trail.
Path to take
There’s only one route to take when you’re planning on hiking the Evliya Celebi Way. This is the 330-kilometre path from Hersek near Yalova to Simav, just northeast of Izmir. Of course, whether you wish to travel by foot or the traditional way through horse riding is entirely up to you.
Do keep in mind that the horse-riding option takes an additional three days to complete and stretches 650 kilometres.
Your journey starts in Istanbul, from where you will take a boat to the city of Yalova, from where you can take a dolmus or minibus to the quaint village of Hersek. This ferry is easy to catch from the Yenikapi terminal and will take you not more than an hour and a half to reach your destination. From Hersek, you will now trudge on to join your fellow hikers or riders to the path of the old and begin the trail.
On the way, you will pass many of Turkey’s major cities and the countryside. Many travellers state that the Evliya Celebi Way gives visitors an authentic taste of Turkish culture as you pass olive groves near Iznik and head to mountainous regions surrounded by paths made for goats and agriculture. If you are on horseback, you will also cross Yenisehir, a large flat land that adds the extra distance to your path. After passing important cities like Busra, and places of note like the ancient Mt. Olympus (Uludag Massif), you will finally reach the hometown of Evliya- Kutahya. This ancient city holds cultural significance and is a great place to get your sight-seeing on.
From here, the official guidebook suggests that you take a bus to Usak and then continue on foot to Simav, but you can also walk the way if you wish to do so and reach the end of your destination triumphant like the old traveller.
Along the route
The centuries-old nature of the road also means that you will pass many sites that you cannot miss and long-forgotten Roman and Turkish trails of great importance.
After passing Iznik, you soon come across Bursa, the Ottoman Empire’s ancient capital and now the 4th most populous city in Turkey. The town, also called ‘Green Bursa’, is famous for being a significant post for the silk trade back when the silk road was up and running. You can still see remnants of this history when walking through the silk bazaar in the towns square. The city is also based at the foot of Mt. Uludag Massif, or the ancient Mt. Olympus.
Another city of much importance is that of Kutahya. Since it has initially been the hometown of Evliya Celebi, it is sometimes considered as the showstopper of the entire hike. Here you will see nods to the byzantine and ottoman culture, with the most significant monument being the ruins of ancient Aizanoi. The ruins of Aizanoi are one of the best-preserved Roman remains and contains the Temple of Zeus, built under Hadrian. You can visit these ruins on your return trip or by taking a slight detour as they lie 60 kilometres away from Kutahya, in Cavdarhisar.
While this hike is much more centred on following the footsteps of a Turkish legend and making thrilling memories through your own hiking or riding experience, there are quite a few places you can see for your viewing pleasure. Along the way, you will witness the beauty of nature as you pass through flatlands and meadows, dense forests and olive groves and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Planning and Preparation
The Evliya Celebi Way is much less travelled than other hiking routes such as the Lycian Way. Therefore, it may need a little more preparation but its not entirely impossible to do so. The best time to hike through this trail is from February to July or September to November when the sun isn’t overhead, and there is not too much snow covering your path.
Since you will be passing many significant cities along the route, you do not need to worry about accommodation in most areas except for those requiring overnight stays in tents. Riders may consult with their riding company to check the route and stay options available to them. Carrying the essentials like food and water are imperative.
Getting a guide or a copy of the Evliya Celebi Way written by Kate Clow and Caroline Finkel, the makers of the trail, is also extremely helpful to prepare for the 22 to 25-day journey. Finally, don’t forget to carry a GPS or download an offline map. This is because the routes are not waymarked except for the occasional yellow signs. This can get troublesome in some areas, and you may get turned around and lost.
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