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KIZILCABÖLÜK

  Population: 5,000

aizil1Old name: Herakleia Hieronu

Market day: Thursday

Festival: Last week of May includes mass making of keşkek

Just beyond Tavas on the road leading to Afrodisias Kızılcabölük is a prosperous small town which offers several reasons to pay a visit.

The first has to be the old Hanönü Cami, first built in 1697-98 according to the inscription over the door but extensively remodelled in 1894-95. Externally simple, it is one of a group of lavishly decorated wooden mosques to be found in this area although sadly recent restoration has stripped it of the lovely reds and greens that used to be a feature in favour of a smart but much more mundane cream and brown colour scheme.

The original mosque must have stood on lower ground than the current one which means that you can see the top of an older mihrab exposed and sitting at a much lower level than the current one. 

Until the recent restoration the old mosque had fallen into disuse, its congregation reassembling in the unattractive 1980s mosque attached to the side of it. Now, though, the old mosque is used by female worshippers in Ramazan and over the night of Miras Kandil, as the imam explained.

Across the road from the mosque is a small park with, dotted around it, pieces of ancient marble that presumably came from ancient Herakleia Hieronu, traces of which survive on the hillside (look at the porch of the old mosque and you'll see an old Roman base resued to support one of the columns). aizil2

The two-storey building in the park houses a small museum (closed Mondays) focused on the weaving that remains a cottage industry here - wander around the back streets and you will soon here the sound of the small machines that turn out local cloth. In Dere Sokak, too, you will see a string-out çeşme (fountain) in which the cloth used to be washed. 

Quite a lot of old Kızılcabölük houses still survive. Most have several rows of stones at the bottom of their walls, with mud-bricks further up and then perhaps an outer coating of plaster. One side often has an open-fronted second-floor terrace with wide eaves. Chimneys are often built of brick.

Others are more standard Ottoman houses with jutting cumbas (bay windows) - a fine example can be seen near the bridge at the far end of the part of the market called the Bayan Pazarı (Women's Market).

aizil3Sleeping

There is a simple hotel in Tavas but you're probably better off staying in Denizli or Pamukkale and visiting on a day trip from Denizli otogar.

Transport info

There are minibuses every half-hour from Denizli otogar to Kızılcabölük, passing through Tavas.

A better way to visit might be to take one of the transport-only day trips to Aphrodisias from Pamukkale and then ask to be dropped off at Kızılcabölük on the way back (you will probably leave the archaeological site at 2pm). If you do this on market day there will be frequent minibuses back to Tavas and Denizli although the market tails off in early afternoon. 

aizil4Piece of Roman column supporting later sundial in front of museum

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