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KULA

Birthplace of President Kenan Evren                      Population:

KulastOne of Western Anatolia's many forgotten small towns, Kula is backed by Turkey’s youngest volcanic cone and is well known to geologists for the lava fields that surround it. It was here that Kenan Evren, the general who became Turkey’s seventh president and who has just been convicted of organising the 1980 coup, was born in 1918.

The main road whips past the outskirts, so you need to turn off the highway and head for the centre to find out what makes the town tick.

As soon as you see the signpost pointing to the Bakırcılar Arastası (Coppermakers’ Market), the Demirciler Arastası (Ironworkers’ Market), and the Leblebciler Arastası (Chickpea-sellers’ Market) you’ll realize that this is somewhere rather special. By some miracle Kula has managed to hang onto its original shopping area, complete with cobbled streets, brick-gabled shops, and quaint cafes where you can barely see through the windows for the condensation.Kulamkt

At the far end of the market stands a hamam dating back to 1351 but no longer in use. Nearby are a few old-fashioned felt-makers still hard at work. These days machines pound the wool to make the felt, but in the past the workers would have taken it into the steamy hamam and used their upper bodies to pound it. 

Cross the empty square just past the hamam and you'll quickly find yourself lost amid narrow streets of old, brightly-coloured Ottoman houses, one of them now a superb hotel. Signs point to the Kenan Evren Etnografya Müzesi and the Türk Evi which face each other across the street.

KulamusIn the past Kula had a large Greek population who lived in konak-style houses with rooms opening off a covered hallway. The Turks, on the other hand, lived in houses with the rooms opening off a courtyard. Kenan Evren was born in a konak-style house whose rooms are maintained as they were when he lived there. Across the road, the Turkish house shows off several rooms ringed with sedirs (bench seats), as well as a sitting area open to the elements; the photographs of early 20th-century Kula that decorate the walls are particularly fascinating.

If you keep walking up the street you will come to the ruins of a fine old church standing abandoned beside the local football pitch.Kulachurch

Sleeping

Anemon Kula Hotel. Tel: 0236-826 2555, www.anemonhotels.com

Transport info

Buses from İzmir (145km) or Manisa (118km) to Afyon pass the Kula junction.

Day trip destinations

Manisa

Uşak

Yanıkyöre

 

 

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