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MERZİFON

Birthplace of Kara Mustafa Paşa             Population: 50,000

Merzcen

Old name: Marzvan (Armenian)

Market day: Friday

The Wikipedia entry for Merzifon mentions the dull concrete modern buildings but appears to have completely overlooked the much older historic structures that lie at the heart of this quiet market town. That's a shame because it would be well worth a short detour from more popular Amasya to see a mosque complex that is more complete than that of II Beyazıd in the town centre.

Don't leave town without trying Merzifon keşkik at the Bedesten Restaurant

Around town

If you walk uphill behind the bus station you will come almost immediately to an equestrian statue of the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Paşa (1634-83) who was born in the nearby village of Marınca and led his troops to defeat at the gates of Vienna in 1683. For that "crime" he was executed by being strangled with a silk cord. KMP

Keep walking straight ahead and you will come to the rambling Tuzpazarı (Salt Market) area where the hamam is being restored (Aug 2012). Stroll between the shops until you emerge beside the small Dönertaş Cami (1515) with the new ly landscaped main square, dominated by the Kara Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi (mosque complex), to the right.

This complex dates back to 1666 and consists of the mosque itself, and a bedesten (market hall), han (inn for travellers) and arasta (shopping arcade), all of them newly restored.

But perhaps the most striking feature of the complex is the şadırvan (fountain), one of a group with those in Tokat and Amasya that feature large "witch's hat" caps over deep marble pools of water with taps set into the side. Like the one at the II Beyazıd complex in Amasya, this one has lovely folk art paintings on its interior as well as calligraphic panels running round the edge. A roundel amid the paintings identifies the artist as from Zile. One would assume his was also the hand behind the Amasya fountain.

If you exit the courtyard from the entrance facing the mosque you will emerge opposite the Çifte Hamamı. Alternatively you can leave via an arched gateway that leads down steps to the han on the left and the bedesten on the right. The latter has been turned into a delightful restaurant. If you walk between the two you will come to the older Tacettin İbrahim Paşa Cami (1443) whose şadırvan is set into a dip beside it. 

MerzhoStrike off from the town centre and you will come to some of Merzifon's surviving Ottoman houses including the restored Mehmet Kutucu Konağı and another that was built in 1923, the year of the Republic's birth.

You may also find a building that was once a 19th-century church and then a cinema until it burnt down but that has also been restored recently.

Also worth looking out for is the tiny Alaca Minare Cami, with an original wooden door, and the huge nearby Paşa Hamamı that still serves men and women, albeit at different times.

Eating

The Bedesten Restaurant (Tel: 0358-505 0102) in the bedesten beside the mosque is a superb conversion of a historic building that manages to be both true to its history and yet modern in design at the same time. It advertises Ottoman cuisine and dishes up tasty local treats such as Merzifon keşkek and assorted fruit sherbets with suitably Ottoman names. A great surprise and one worth travelling some distance to enjoy.Bedesten

Sleeping

You will probably want to visit Merzifon from Amasya rather than staying here. The new Hotel Valiente overlooking the statue of Kara Mustafa Paşa is unmissable for its size although its windows look in need of a good clean.

The han facing the Bedesten Restaurant is slated to become a hotel. If it's only halfway as good as the restaurant it should do really well. 

Transport info

Minibuses leave Amasya for Merzifon every half-hour from between the rebuilt Saraydüzü Barracks and the Büyük Ağa Medresesi.

From Merzifon there are dolmuşes to Çorum, Osmancık, Havsa, Suluova, Hamamözü and Gümüşhacıköy.

Mrzsad

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