The Great Anatolian Ride is a horseback itinerary through northwest Turkey that follows, as closely as possible, the early stages of the final journey of the adventurous seventeenth-century Ottoman Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi. After a lifetime spent wandering the world—from Vienna to Sudan, from the steppes of Muscovy to the deserts of north Africa—Evliya set out from Istanbul in 1671 to make the pilgrimage to Mecca that is required of all Muslims. He never returned to the city of his birth, but spent his last years in Egypt, composing and recomposing the 10-volume travelogue—the Book of Travels—that is the account of his far flung travels.
Evliya Çelebi was born in Istanbul in 1611, and 2011 was proclaimed the year of Evliya Çelebi by UNESCO in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of his birth, and in recognition of his extraordinary achievements.
In Fall 2009 a group of riders set out to trace part of Evliya’s 1671 route from Istanbul to the western Anatolian town of Simav, before ending in Kütahya, Evliya’s ancestral city. They covered some 800 miles in 6 weeks, pausing as they went to compare their experiences with Evliya’s, and to talk to local horsefolk about the days before tractors, when most villagers and farmers relied on horses in their work and travel. This expedition has resulted in a guidebook to Evliya’s route, a book about the expedition’s findings, and a documentary film.
The Great Anatolian Ride sets out from the village of Soğuksu, south of the Marmara Sea—riding through the urban sprawl of Istanbul is no longer to be recommended, and you must pick up Evliya’s route in gentler surroundings. From Soğuksu you head south through dramatic landscapes and across varied terrain, zig-zagging east and west from your main direction of travel as he himself did. The ride will end short of Simav, in the historic city of Kütahya, which as well being Evliya’s ancestral home, contains many monuments from medieval and later times.
The countryside of northwest Turkey is wide open—unlike the countryside of most of Europe or North America. There are few fences or walls to restrict your movement, and you are enthusiastically welcomed as you go by, rather than being unceremoniously chased away. This is part of the immense attraction of riding in this region. You will pass through many towns and villages on your journey, visiting sites that Evliya records in his Book of Travels. You will have a chance to meet the people who make their living from the land, far from the bustle of the ever-growing cities of Turkey, as well as see the distinctive stone and wooden architecture of the region. You make your journey in the weeks around harvest time, and will find most villagers in their fields and orchards preparing for the busy period ahead—they are sure to share with you the fruits and other produce that form the basis of the rural economy.
The Great Anatolian Ride is a completely new route for riders that has been established as a result of the exploratory journey made a few years ago.
THIS RIDE CAN BE DIVIDED IN HALF AND ONLY ONE HALF OF THE RIDE BOOKED FOR RIDERS WHO CAN’T TAKE TIME FOR THE ENTIRE RIDE.
For more information see:
- The Long Riders Guild
With first-hand knowledge of the exciting tours we offer, the ride consultants at Equitours look forward to answering any questions you might have about this ride. We want to help make sure that you select the trip of your dreams. Please call or email and get ready to pack your bags for a wonderful adventure!