Afyonkarahisar: City of heroic history, delicious food

BURCU ALDINÇ
ISTANBUL
Published
While winter is at the door, Afyonkarahisar is a good destination for a quick visit with its history and delicious foods.
While winter is at the door, Afyonkarahisar is a good destination for a quick visit with its history and delicious foods.

Though some places may be well known, we often find it hard to take the time to truly explore them. Located on the junction of major cities in Turkey, Afyonkarahisar is one of the sometimes overlooked spots definitely worth visiting

Due to its location on the crossroads of favorite holiday destinations, Afyonkarahisar province has always been our stopover point during our car journeys; hence, it was high time for me to get in the car and discover Afyonkarahisar for good. I do not have an eye on its famous sucuk, which is a kind of dry, spicy sausage. Turkish cherry bread pudding was the one that whet my appetite. I still remember the taste of the dessert served with delicious Afyonkarahisar's kaymak, which is a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream. Lamb kebab, döner and village bread with poppy seeds are other dishes also still haunting my memory. So, let's take a quick visit to Afyon as the weather cools and winter is at the door. Let's rest in its healing thermal waters, eat and drink plenty.

We can divide Afyonkarahisar into two sections, new and old. Old Afyonkarahisar is the area where old mansions now run as restaurants and boutique hotels are located. We can also call it the bustling and crowded part of the city. The bazaars and the famous castle of the city are also here. It's perfect for getting lost in the streets and photographing historic buildings.

First stop: Afyonkarahİsar Castle

We can start our visit to the city with Afyonkarahisar Castle. The castle, which has continuously passed through different hands, starting from the Hittites to the Ottoman Empire, was the subject of many legends. Today, we can only see the walls of the castle, located across from the Grand Mosque in the center. To reach the castle, you need to climb 1,000 stairs. The food in Afyonkarahisar so delicious that the idea of doing a little exercise by climbing up to the castle doesn't sound so bad. An endless Afyonkarahisar view is waiting for you on the hill. The entrance to the castle is free. Afterward, you can take a breather in the old mansions that have now been converted into cafes or eat gözleme, a flat bread filled with meat, spinach or cheese. Both the stairs and the fresh air tend to make people hungry.

Where Great Offensive started

Apart from the thermal hotels, Kocatepe is often the place visited first. You will have an interesting experience if you go with a guide to the place where the Great Offensive was kicked off on Aug. 26, 1922 by Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In almost every city, there is a grand mosque. This one is known as the Mosque of 40 Pillars, as it was built on a total of 40 wooden pillars. You can visit the mosque dating back to the Seljuk period between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.


Afyonkarahisar's Grand Mosque is known as the Mosque of 40 Pillars.

Afyonkarahisar Mevlevi lodge is one of the oldest ones in Anatolia. Afyonkarahisar has become an important center of the Mevlevi order. The Mevlevi lodge, which is thought to have been built in the 13th century, was restored in 2008 after having survived many fires and was put into service as a museum. There are dervish rooms, kitchens and cemeteries in its garden. You can visit the museum free of charge.

Journey to the past

You can visit Anıtpark, which was erected in the memory of the city's salvation from Greek occupation in 1936.

Triumphal Museum next to the government office was used by Atatürk as headquarters during the Great Offensive. It is open during working hours.

If you are interested in antiquities, there is also an archaeological museum with a rich collection. It is open every day but Mondays.

Çeşmeli Konak (mansion with a fountain) is also the first special museum and serves as a culture and art center.

Pastries, sucuk, kaymak and more

Afyonkarahisar definitely deserves a gastronomy tour; moreover, its cuisine offers much more than the bread pudding, kaymak and sucuk, which I mentioned in the beginning.

Everyone has heard of İkbal Restaurant, which was founded in 1922. It has two branches: One is on the main road, while the other is in the center. In general, vacationers take a break on the road; however, the taste of the restaurant in the center is different. Its tandır is delicious. Do not forget to leave space for cherry bread pudding.

Have you ever tried sucuk döner? It is a dish you should absolutely try in Afyonkarahisar, and the best place to eat it is Gamze Döner. Don't forget to order some foamy handmade ayran, Turkey's famous yogurt drink, with it.

Almost everyone has visited Şefika Aunt's house in the village of Ayazini. She is also famous and was on nearly every television channel. Her gözleme with potatoes, cheese, spinach and mixed ingredients are very tasty. She grows the products she uses in her own field.

Aşçı Bacaksız (Chef Bacaksız), which has been serving since 1840, is now one of the cornerstones of the city. You should stop by to try famous its lamb kebab, which takes three days to prepare.

Salim Chef was a cook at the palace in the past. His grandchildren run the restaurant, which was named after him in the grand bazaar in the center. In the restaurant, you can try dishes like tandır and güveç kavurma.

If you want to take some cherry bread pudding home, visit Aftat. They pack it so well that it will reach your home still ready to eat.

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