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GÖYNÜK

Setting for "The Scorpion's Way"                                  Population: 4,000

goy1Market day: Monday

Göynük, south of Bolu, is so pretty that you find yourself wondering how it could be so little known to outsiders. The fact that it’s tucked up inside a valley which is invisible from the main Adapazarı-Nallıhan road must be part of the explanation although the town played a starring role in the 2001 film Akrebin Yolculuğu (The Scorpion’s Way) which should have brought it the same sort of fame as Ürgüp (think Asmalı Konak) or Mardin (think Sila).

What makes Göynük so particularly delightful?goy6

Well, unlike so many Turkish towns it has a feeling of completion about it. The trees are mature, the pavements are level, and the houses are almost all of two or three storeys and built to blend into the hillside unlike those increasingly familiar high-rise apartment blocks that so disfigure the outskirts of most settlements. The most conspicuous building is a cute little tower, the Zafer Kulesi (Victory Tower) built in 1923 to commemorate the founding of the Republic, that perches astride one of the hills. It’s not open to the public although it’s worth climbing up to admire the views on all sides.

In lieu of a museum, Göynük has only a string of Graeco-Roman tombstones lined up opposite the gendarmerie and currently shockingly neglected. Otherwise, its only other formal attraction is the originally 14th-century Gazi Süleyman Paşa Cami, which was recently rebuilt after a fire, with, beside it, a hamam theoretically open to men and women, and the tomb of Akşemsettin, a 15th-century medical scholar, born in Damascus, who became famous for his work on the nature of germs and who went on to become a teacher to Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

Göynük keeps one other card up its sleeve which is the large market that takes place here every Monday. If you’ve frequented a lot of Turkish street markets you may have become a little jaded by their homogeneity, and at first sight Göynük’s could be just another market awash with wonderful fruit and vegetables but with nothing particularly distinctive about it.goy2

Then you stumble upon the upstairs area where the dairy produce is sold - and see the women who have come in from the surrounding villages, each of them dressed in red and blue plaid şalvar (baggy pants) and what the locals call simply a şal (shawl), a tablecloth-like head and shoulder covering of black and white with a red border. Since the wearers are uniformly middle-aged or older you know you’re looking at a scene that will be gone in another 20 years or so.

Sleeping

Göynük offers the opportunity to stay in Ottoman splendour at a fraction of the price you'd pay in Safranbolu.

Akşemsettinoğlu Konağı

Doğa Otel. Tel:  0374-465 1269

Göynük Hotel. Tel: 0374-451 6278, www.goynukotel.com

Hacı Ali Paşa Konağı 

goy4Transport info

One bus a day to Göynük via Taraklı leaves İstanbul’s Harem bus station at 10am. It returns to İstanbul at 10am except on Monday when it leaves at noon.

From Göynük there is one dolmuş a day to Nallıhan whence hourly midi buses travel to Ankara's small Etlik bus terminal via Beypazarı (note: not AŞTİ).

From Göynük there is also one minibus a day north to Mudurnu.

Transport between Taraklı and Göynük is in disappointingly short supply, although taxi drivers will run you the 28 kilometres between the two for around TL30 each way.

Day trip destinations

Adapazarı

Beypazarı

Mudurnu

Taraklı

Read more about the journey from İstanbul to Ankara via Göynük: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-147391-from-istanbul-to-ankara-the-ottoman-way-goynuk.html 

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