Evliya Çelebi Way

The Europe to Turkey on Foot project

Massimo Tedeschi (Vie Francigene) & Kate Clow (CRS)

In 2016, as part of its Social Dialogue program, the EU gave a grant to the Culture Routes Society and their partners, the European Association of the Via Francigena, to develop a route which included part of the Evliya Çelebi Way and sections of other long-distance hiking routes in Turkey. İnegöl Municipality became a partner in the project and in spring 2016 a volunteer group worked to re-waymark the Way from Hersek, through İnegöl county, and south to Kütahya city.

Evliya Çelebi

Evliya Çelebi was an Ottoman Turkish adventurer who travelled far and wide for over 40 years. Born in Istanbul, he made many journeys across the sultan’s domains, to the frontiers of the Ottoman empire in the Balkans and the Middle East, and beyond—to the Habsburg emperor’s seat at Vienna, towards the headwaters of the Nile, and to the Caucasus and Iran. Often he travelled on official business, but also for pleasure. Among his many accomplishments, Evliya was a scholar, raconteur, dervish, musician, and linguist. He dubbed himself ‘World Traveller and Boon Companion to Mankind’ and wore a ring inscribed ‘The World Traveller Evliya’. He aimed to describe everything he saw on his journeys, and his observations on everyday life in the 17th century are a unique record of his times. Evliya left an account of his wanderings in 10 large volumes, the Seyahatname, or Book of Travels.

The information Evliya gives us in his Book of Travels about his route through the countryside is often brief, and confusing for the modern reader. He mentions by name places that he visited, but it is not always possible to match these places with present-day villages. Further, we can only guess at his exact route between the places he names, so do not know how faithfully we are following his line of travel. These disadvantages gave us the freedom to improvise.

When making the Evliya Çelebi Way, we wanted the route to be enjoyable for users, so it runs far from the urban sprawl and traffic of Bursa and Kütahya, and does not enter these cities, as Evliya did. We have tried to take advantage of the network of old, paved roads (döşemeli yollar) that survive. In many places these are still identifiable by their regular stones and straight edges, while elsewhere, although the stones themselves may have disappeared over the years, a sunken track with hedges along it is often of great age.

The first Evliya Çelebi Way—from Hersek to Şimav

Hagia Sophia, Iznik

The Evliya Çelebi Way is a trail for walkers and bikers, and Turkey’s first route for horseriders. It approximates the early stages of Evliya Çelebi’s pilgrimage journey to Mecca in 1671. The route runs from the village of Hersek, southeast of İstanbul on the southern shore of the İzmit Gulf, to near the city of Simav, inland from the Aegean city of İzmir. It mixes history and nature, adventure and relaxation. A few days on the Way can enjoyably be combined with sightseeing in the towns and cities Evliya visited.

The Evliya Çelebi Way crosses spectacular and varied landscapes, visiting villages far off the beaten track, as well as passing through, or close to, towns and cities of great historical importance in this region where the Ottoman empire was born. It follows rivers and goat paths, tractor- and forestry- tracks, and Roman and Ottoman paved roads. The terrain is rarely difficult. The riding route is around 650km long, and takes about 25 days to complete, plus rest/sightseeing days; the walking route omits some flat sections, and is about 330km long, taking about 22 days to complete, plus rest/sightseeing days.

The Evliya Çelebi Way is planned to pass or access points of interest such as historical monuments, road-side cafes and modern tourist attractions. Much of the route is waymarked with red and white painted stripes, and signposted with yellow signs at junctions with asphalt or stabilised roads. As well as using these markers, you can follow the route by downloading the tracks to an application on your smartphone or to a handheld GPS. Drinking water is available from mosques and water fountains along the way.

For the tracks and detailed information: http://cultureroutesinturkey.com/evliya-celebi-way/

Making the Evliya Çelebi Way from Hersek to Simav

The Evliya Çelebi Way opened on the quatercentenary of Evliya’s birth in 2011, a year declared by UNESCO as a celebration of his life and work. The first phase in establishing the Way was an exploratory 6-week horseback ride in 2009, that re-enacted Evliya’s meandering pilgrimage journey from the İzmit Gulf to Simav as described in his travelogue. Evliya himself continued to İzmir, and south then east around the Anatolian coast towards his goal of Mecca.

In summer 2010 we made hiking expeditions to define the walking and biking route, then mapped the route and produced the first guidebook.

The new Evliya Çelebi Way from İpsala to Bursa

To complete the route of the Via Eurasia through Turkey, we need a link between the first Evliya Çelebi Way and the Via Egnatia, which runs east from Durres in Albania, enters Turkey at İpsala, and continues to İstanbul (formerly Constantinople). As with the first Evliya Çelebi Way, we prefer to avoid the city: İstanbul is expanding so far and so fast that creating a permanent, officially-protected, route through this megalopolis is clearly impossible. We have therefore opted for a route that leaves the Via Egnatia at İpsala, crosses the Dardanelles at Çanakkale, and continues trending west-east to meet the first Evliya Çelebi Way at the picturesque village of Babasultan, east of Bursa. This section of the Via Eurasia approximates (in reverse) the journey Evliya Çelebi made in 1659 from Bursa to Edirne. Work will start on this section in 2017.

Municipalities along the Evliya Çelebi Way:
İpsala, Keşan, Biga, Lapseki, Çanakkale Merkez, Eceabat, Gelibolu, Gönen, Bandırma, Kestel, Bürsa, Karacabey, İnegöl, Domaniç, Tavşanlı, Kütahya Merkez (links to municipality pages)

Places to see along the Evliya Çelebi Way:
You can find more information about these places in the guide-book.
(to our POI pages)

Festivals along the Evliya Çelebi Way:
İnegöl Culture and art festival. This is a 4-5 day festival taking place mainly in the evenings both in İnegöl and the surrounding villages. International folkdance teams and musicians perform in the open air for the public. http://www.inegolfestivali.org/tr/


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