Day 30 (2): Off the beaten track
Kayseri Travel Blog› entry 42 of 260 › view all entries
May 5th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
Over the past 1000-odd years Kayseri has been an important trading post for the Romans, the Seljuks, the Mongols, the Crusaders and the Ottomans respectively. These days it is a very modern town with a healthy economy and all but ignored by most tourists, who might only get as far as Kayseri airport before they are transferred to Göreme or other towns in Cappadocia.
This makes Kayseri a very interesting place to visit. First off because there are many historical buildings in the city, including Turkey's second-largest bazaar, and secondly because people here are completely unspoilt by tourism.
Kayseri is quite a handsome town too, with snowcapped Erciyes Daği, Turkey's second-highest mountain, dominating the skyline. Mind you, I am Dutch, so I have a genetically determined obsession with mountains. Add a couple of snowcapped mountains to any city and it would look handsome to these eyes.
I was in Kayseri on a transfer, but I had timed it so that I had most of the afternoon and evening to spend before my night bus to Kahta left.
After dropping off my luggage at the (brand new) bus station, I took a bus to the centre of the city. Kayseri is quite different from the other cities I have visited in Turkey so far. It seems much more conservative here, most of the mosques I peeked in to were full of old men praying.
In the centre of town is an old citadel. Although, the citadel building has long since been demolished, but its basalt walls are still left standing. And within the walls there is a large bazaar. Next to the citadel there is even more bazaar, and apparently this is the second-largest bazaar after Istanbul. However, whereas the Istanbul bazaar is one big souvenir shop, the Kayseri bazaar is still the place where locals do all their shopping. From clothes to toys to household appliances to food.
Ah, food, I should mention food as well. Kayseri is home to Turkey's one and only proper sausage: the Pastirma (yes, you can see that as an anagram of an Italian sausage). Naturally I had to try one and they are indeed really good.
I was approached by a young guy who seemed quite surprised seeing a tourist here. Not a business traveller who just happened in town, no an actual tourist! Tarsim his name was, and immediately he enlisted himself as my personal tour guide.
We showed me some areas in the bazaar which I had missed, including a very old caravanserai, now housing a wool auction.
Behind this was an old bath house, which now functions as more bazaar, mainly carpet shops. Tarsims tour inevitably led to one of these carpet shops, which was conveniently owned by his brother. However, he said, “I don't expect you to buy anything, but I do expect you to have some tea with us, Turkish hospitality”.
Well, sure, I was happy to have some tea with locals, even slightly over-sexed ones like these (“Holland? Ah, good girls. Big tits. Good fuck?”).
Tarsim's brother was somewhat disappointed I didn't want to buy any carpets, despite his earlier explanation that his business was not selling carpets to consumers, but rather he was in the trading business buying carpets off local farmers and selling them wholesale to distributors in Istanbul.
I must say that I really enjoyed my half day in Kayseri. It is amazing that a city a mere 45 minutes away from one of the most visited areas in Turkey is all but ignored by tourists. And that while the Kayseri has such a wealth of ancient churches, tombs, mosques and other buildings. In my opinion the fact that Kayseri is ignored in favour of other places has nothing to do with the quality of historical sites in Kayseri, but more with the sheer abundance of sites elsewhere in Turkey.
So if you ever find yourself in Cappadocia and you have to travel via Kayseri, make sure you plan half a day here. It's worth it.
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