AN ANATOLIAN BEAUTY ALONG THE YEŞİLIRMAK RIVER: AMASYA

IT IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL TOWNS OF ANATOLIA. THE NIGHTS IN THIS TOWN ARE AS IMPRESSIVE AS TO MAKE YOU GO OUTDOORS. 

A poem that begins with “Serving a life sentence imprisoned in your love/ I am waiting for you at Gamaşuk…” is hanging on its wall. A giant copper samovar that burns charcoal is the leading player. The nice aroma of freshly made tea envelopes the twenty-two year old famous Gamaşuk Teahouse at the Copper Bazaar every morning from 6 am to midnight. Although, the owner of the teahouse is Sebati Ferahoğlu, the keeper of the tea is his mother Aysel Hanım. He talks about his mother: “She is a real Anatolian woman; stoic, enduring, she hadn’t even complained once in forty years about her scarf or shoes getting worn out.” Gamaşuk was his grandfather’s nickname; it means ‘sorrowful lover.’ He wanted to name the place after a familiar story from his own past instead of a strange name. The wishing coffee that was cooked in embers is served at Gamaşuk; however, its patrons favor the tea. It is hard to find someone who doesn’t have a portable samovar in Amasya where vineyards and orchards are abundant. Today, it is possible to find handcrafted portable samovars that are light in weight. The tea tastes better when it is simmered in embers.

Magnificent nights
Although, the passion for this teahouse and tea are the most striking characteristics of Amasya, it is not possible to avoid the fact that the town being an Anatolian beauty along the Yeşilırmak River. When you look at the most familiar postcard of Amasya, you’ll see the Yalıboyu mansions from the 19th century lining along a narrow strait and the chilling rock tombs of the kings rising above them. This is one of the most beautiful towns of Anatolia. The nights in this town are as impressive as to make you go outdoors. The most beautiful neighborhood of Amasya, Hatuniye, lapsing into silence under the streetlights, and the reflection of the houses in the water make the nights of Amasya special.

Tombs and passageways
The Rock Tombs of the Kings, carved deep into the limestone over the southern shoulders of the Harşena Mountain during the Hellenistic period, belong to the Pontic kings who had used Amasya as their capital city between 333 BC and 26 BC. Twenty-one tombs take place along the Yeşilırmak Valley. The passageways carved behind them are actually more interesting than the tombs. When the tombs are illuminated at night, it is easy to realize their contribution to the beauty of the town as walking up the Gezi Way.

Oxford of Anatolia
The popular harbor of Amasya, the Gezi Way is the home of many famous names: The busts of the Ottoman sultans are lined in here. Busts of Bayezid II who was assigned here as its governor at the age of 7 and other sultans who came here to study at the madrasas to learn sciences and art before they inherited the throne are among them. G. Perrat, the explorer who came to Amasya in 1861, was right to say, “Amasya is the Oxford of Anatolia.” The sculptures of Strabon, the famous geographer of the antiquity and a native of Amasya, and Ferhat and Şirin who are identified with the town are also located here.

Salute to Yeşilırmak
It is possible to see the wooden houses with stone courtyards located at the banks of the river, and the best-maintained restaurants that offer local dishes at the Hatuniye neighborhood. You should stay at one of the Yalıboyu houses. More of them are being restored with each passing day.

Amasya’s chatty elderly
Pass the pink and red peştamals (Turkish bath towel) hanging on a clothesline on the terrace of the Yıldız Hammam every morning towards the bridge over the Yeşilırmak. Close to noon, the elderly sit under the sycamore trees and wait for the prayer time. The trees are rumored to be at the same age with the Sultan II Bayezid Mosque (1486) which is a magnificent structure of the town. The elderly would suggest you to see the pillars. Then, they would enter a small argument about approximately two thousand manuscripts and three thousand printed works that some of them were stolen. Meanwhile, some students try to study at the library, which was converted from a madrasa.

Mosques and therapy during the reign of Moguls
No one can compare it to another mosque in the aspects of its size and architectural balance; however, many other mosques and buildings are worth seeing in the town. You can watch the Yeşilırmak’s scenery from the courtyard of the Gümüşlü Mosque with its cut stonework, high brick minaret, and wooden dome. We can add the Gökmedrese and Kileri Süleyman Ağa Mosques in the list. A workshop produces samovars at Taşhan. It is possible to observe the trade life of Amasya at the Copper Bazaar and on Torumtay Street where plenty of samovars are sold.

Bimarhane Madrasa, which is also called as Darüşşifa or Tımarhane, is today Sabuncuoğlu History of Medicine and Surgery Museum. The Moguls who were known with their vandalism built it to practice water and music therapy on mentally ill patients. The madrasa had also been used as a music school for centuries. Many scientists had been educated in here. As it can be seen in the miniatures at the mosque, the most famous one among them was Sabuncuoğlu Şerefeddin who had lived during the reign of the Conqueror Sultan Mehmet. He was a doctor and a surgeon who had practiced medicine for fourteen years. His book that was written in 1465 ‘Cerrahhiyetü’l Hâniye’ offers important information about the advanced medicine of the period.

The mummies of Anatolia
Amasya Museum is easy to remember thanks to its collection of mummies and the way of their presentation. The mausoleum of Sultan I Mesut, which has the sign that reads ‘Mummies’, located in the garden of Narlıbahçe Cemetery of the museum,  is the most fascinating part of the museum. 14th century İlhanlı governor Minister of Anatolia Sultan’s Son Cumudar, Emir of Amasya İşbuğa Noyin, İzzeddin Mehmed Pervane Bey, his spouse, and his children are among the mummified bodies. The mummification technique used on them is different from its comparisons around the world. The bodies had been mummified by exsiccating and embalming without the removal of their internal organs. In addition, Hittite axe, and Alexander’s treasure of silver might grab your attention. The first and only Hittite God of Storms of the archeological world, the bronze figurine of Teshub, which was made by using casting technique, is also significant. A villager found the figurine at the Hittite mound in Doğantepe in 1963. It is sent to some other museums in Europe time to time for exhibition.

PHOTO SPOT
If you’d like to see the most impressive scenery of Amasya, you’d have to reach to Amasya Castle by vehicle and then climb from there.

TASTE STOP
If you make one-day advance reservation, you can taste the local dishes such as stuffed fava beans, Emir Efendi tandouri, keşkek, toyga soup, baked rice pudding at Emin Efendi Restaurant.

PHOTO SPOT
Watch the impressive view of the Sultan II. Bayezid Mosque and Social Complex from the far banks of the river that Yalıboyu houses are located or from the garden that overlooks the river.

DO YOU KNOW?
The book called ‘The Art of Mummification and the Mummies of Anatolia’ written by Muzaffer Doğanbaş, an important researcher who has worked at the mummies section of the museum, is the right source for the ones who are interested in learning more about the mummies exhibited in Amasya Museum, which was appeared in one of the National Geographic’s documental series.