İhsaniye

İhsaniye is a town and district of Afyonkarahisar in the Aegean region of Turkey. 77 km of the Phrygian Way, which is part of the Via Eurasia, pass through this district. The Phrygian Trekking Route passes through the historical Phrygian Valleys where hikers may visit the ruins of ancient civilizations, carved into natural stone chimneys.

Ihsaniye has a total population of 27,853, with most people living in rural areas. The region contains open steppe, mountainous area, and forests of oak and pine. The district economy is based on livestock, agriculture, and, to a lesser extent, commercial food production – two famous flour factories are there. Gazlıgöl thermal springs are located to the south of Ihsaniye, and have been developed as a resort.

History of Ihsaniye

The history of Ihsaniye stretches back to the Phrygians. The ruins of the Höyük, Ayazini and Kayıhan settlements belong to the Phrygian period, along with Kapıkayalar, Aslantaş, Maltaş and Yilantaş, which are believed to be monumental tombs.  Although the region was ruled at various times by Persians, Hellenes, Romans, and Byzantines, there are no artifacts or traces that lasted from these civilizations. After Anatolia’s 1071 Malazgirt victory, it is believed that some Turkish tribesmen moved from the east and settled in this region. After the 1877- 1878 Ottoman Russian War, Ihsaniye was founded as a village in 1888 with the settlement of migrants from Şahinler, a village of Pazardzhik, Silistra, Bulgaria. After the building of the railway line, the name of İhsaniye was given to the station as well as the village. Ihsaniye became a district centre on 1 April 1959.

Interesting Places in İhsaniye

Saricaova Castle

‘Saricaova Castle’ is actually a tell, or burial mound, with a necropolis dating back to the Roman Period. In the rocks you will be able to discern, a room with square windows. The name Saricaova, meaning yellowish plain in Turkish, was given to the village due to the yellow flowers blooming in the area.


Asarkale

There are rock settlements and graves belonging to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods at the Asarkale rock settlement, and places of worship similar to open air temple built in the name of Cybele belonging to Phrygians.


Memeç Rocks

Known locally as the Memec sheep pen, this block of rock is still used by villagers for holding sheep. In the rocks, you will find a church (Çifte Kilise), and on top of a rock altar, rock thrones and carved hollows, all dating back to 1000 BCE.


Eski Doger/ Caravanserai

Eski Doger (Old Doger), found on the Urumkuş road, is one of the oldest settlements in the area. There is an excellent example of a caravanserai, built by Ottoman Sultan Murat II in 1434. With a typical ‘han’ (inn for travellers) design, the caravanserai has upper stories for guests, with camel barns on the lower floor.


Doger Ufo Models

These models of UFOs, seen in the town centre of Doger, are from two Turkish films which were shot in the area (AROG and GORA).


Little Gaterock Monument (Kucuk Kapikaya)

The small Kapıkaya monument, a symbol of Anatolia, is a religious monument of about 2600 years ago, a rare early representation of Cybele, the fertility goddess.


Lionrock (Aslankaya) Monument

The Lionrock monument is a Phrygian rock façade worked into a single block of rock. It takes its name from the two standing lions that flank the goddess Cybele in the niche. You can see the shape of this region’s unique motifs in the rock formation in the front of the monument.


Great Gaterock Monument (Kapıkaya)

15 meters in front of the monument, there is a rock altar, the steps of which are very worn. The western face of the monument has been carved with a now-damaged mother goddess figure and motifs. Since some of the reliefs resemble carpet or kilim motifs, the monument has taken the local name Halili Kaya (Carpeted Rock).


Burmeç Monument

Locally named ‘Muskali Kaya’, the Burmeç Monument is an amazing example of a Phrygian work in progress. The half-finished monument, like many other Phrygian works of art, has been raided by treasure hunters.


Bayramaliler Castle

In the Byzantine period, this was a settlement named Leonto Kefal, surrounded by walls built on a natural hill. There are basic remains of constructions in the castle, and carved rock settlements on the hillsides around.


Demirli Castle

This structure was made by excavating a natural rise in the tuff rock, and is a many-storeyed settlement with places of worship inside. It is possible to climb part-way up the castle easily, but there is no path to the top. There is also a rock settlement and altar and necropolis to the west of the castle.


Kohnus Valley

The Kohnus Valley houses the Phrygians largest necropolis, Kohnus Castle and Boncuk Caves and, by the asphalt road, a rock-cut altar and a monument. Menekse Kayalıkları is a hill with excavated caves as is Aktepe, in the village of Demirli. Both provides interesting geological forms as well as panoramic views.


Yilantas And Aslantas (Snakestone And Lionstone)

The overturned figure of a lion you will see close to the route is actually called ‘snakestone’ but when it fell from above the figure of a lion was displayed. The figure of the snake has been destroyed. Nearby, you will see a symmetrical relief of two standing lions, called Lionstone, a stunning rock tomb, originally created to protect the graves of important Phrygians. Still further ahead, you will find several rock-hewn chamber tombs.


Avdalaz Castle

The castle, formed from rock-hewn caves arranged in layers, was constructed in the Byzantine period, and used as a settlement. It includes churches with smoke-blackened frescoes and columns. There’s a wonderful view from the top.


Abraham Caves

The Abraham Caves offer the best example of a rock carved church. It is certainly worth looking inside the church, where you will find some carved statues in high relief.


Sections

  1. Asmainler Hidden Valley to Saricaova 13 km
    The path follows a river which travels the length of the valley and, especially where the valley narrows, there is a peaceful atmosphere. On this route there are many water sources, and it’s possible to meet shepherds grazing their flocks. Many ruddy shelducks and other birds will accompany you on your walk. Near the end, you will see Saricaova Castle in the distance. The local people are descended from the Circassian Abzegh tribe.
  1. Saricaova to Urumkus Meadow 5.5 km
    This route starts on the road heading out of the village. After crossing a water channel, it passes through some ploughed fields and then sparse pine trees. There is a water source and a nice place to camp. The Urumkus meadow is stunning, especially in spring, when the flowers bloom. There are a few houses here, and you can find caves in some of the larger rocks.
  1. Urumkus Meadow to Doger 7 km
    After leaving the meadow, there is a point with an outstanding view of the whole Doğer region on the left. On the right you can see hills which border on the Asmainler hidden valley. The route is a mix of dirt track, narrow path, tractor trail and an old cart route, with water sources and nice places to camp. Along the way you will see the interesting Tomsu Rocks, Asarkale (Doğer Castle), and large numbers of natural formations including the Alasma fairy chimneys and rock settlements. The route takes you through the hamlet of Alanlı before reaching Doğer. This town has restaurants and shops.
  1. Doğer to Aslankaya Monument 4 km
    Just outside of Doğer, you will see the Kadikaya cult monument and next to that, hollows worked into the rock, one section of a rock church, ancient roadways, and rock tombs. For those with time to explore, there is a right hand turn going towards the little gaterock monument (kucuk kapikaya), but this is unfortunately some distance from the Phrygian Way. After passing through some fields, walkers will arrive at the Lionrock (Aslankaya) Monument.
  1. Aslankaya Monument to Burmec Monument 8.5 km
    The wide valley narrows after the route leaves the Aslankaya Monument, then follows an ancient road. It passes through a forest before reaching the Great Gaterock (Büyük Kapıkaya) Monument. Continuing on with marks of ancient roadways leading to a plateau covered with shrubs with a view below of fairy chimneys and natural castles dominating the landscape. This part of the Phrygian Way hosts the largest numbers of fairy chimneys. After a mix of path and dirt track the route continues on a stunning ancient roadway and passes the Burmeç Monument.
  1. Burmec Monument to Demirli 7 km
    This route begins on a stunning Phrygian roadway with ruts of 3-4 m deep. It then continues on the Saricaova asphalted road, then heads upward on a steep climb before reaching the block of rock known as Basamaktaşı. It continues on the ridge with views of fairy chimneys and the Bayramaliler castle in the distance. Then, a steep descent and a walk through the valley where you can see birds of prey and nesting storks. There is a nice place to camp near a water source in the valley before Bayramaliler Pond. This area is full of shepherds. Follow a dirt road past Demirli Castle, then a rock church to your left, and descend to the village.
  1. Demirli to Kohnus Valley 5.5 km
    Leaving the village, the natural formations just above will immediately draw your attention. If the season is right, you will see locals in colorful costumes harvesting the poppies. Starting on dirt track, the route continues on a rocky pathway with marks of ancient roadways and springs alongside. Pass a rock cut church (Sulu Monastery) then between boulders, and cross the asphalt to natural formations, known locally as Gokgeli Yurdu. Follow forest path and tractor route, down a small valley widening into the Kohnus Valley, where there is a campsite and Yilantas (snakestone) and Aslantas (lionstone).
  1. Kohnus Valley to Ayazini 9.5 km
    Continue along a valley past Maltaş, an open air temple and cross a bridge then the main road to a dirt track, passing the hamlet of Aglar. Upon approaching Ayazini, you can see the natural formation called Deliktaş (Holestone), and explore the many ancient roadways around the stone. Ayazini has a few shops and a small café and is home to many Phrygian, Roman, and Byzantine carvings. There is also an alternative route starting from here that leads to Avdalaz Castle. It’s possible to camp at the entrance to the Avdalaz Valley or in the garden of the local café.
  1. Ayazini to Eski Eymir 9 km
    Starting with an ascent, the path then offers a wonderful view of Ayazini and its surroundings. Following a very clear and pleasant walking path, the route passes a dam before running parallel to the lake through trees. You will pass the hamlet of Dere before crossing a bridge and passing through fields of cucumbers. Following the river, the walker will see Eski Eymir just 500m above the riverbed.
  1. Eski Eymir to Selimiye 8 km
    Continuing along the river, two valleys meet at Basoren where you can see caves among the rocks. Follow a mix of ancient path and tractor track to Abraham Caves. Passing traces of more ancient roadways, the path goes to Selimiye, which is a Turkmen village. Here, many rock settlements and chapels can be seen, along with the Selimiye chamber tombs and the İkizinler (twin caves).

Transport

İhsaniye can be reached by minibuses which leave from the main bus station in Afyonkarahisar, which can be reached by train or bus from all major cities. The town of Doğer is on a train line. The nearest airport is in Kutahya.

Accomodation

There are hotels near Gazligöl, the thermal springs located in İhsaniye. Saricaova has a village hall where it’s possible to stay, and a camping place 1.5 km outside of the village in the direction of Gökbahce. Demirli has a village hall – keys are available from the village headman. Camping places are mentioned above.

                        


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