Unfairly thought of as boring and dull, Turkey’s capital is often cast in a negative light, especially when compared with Istanbul and other tourism hot spots. This week, we’ll be exploring the colorful district of Beypazarı
*The fearued photo: A general view of Beypazarı and its houses. (Photo by Argun Konuk)
Beypazarı is a small district that includes many attractions easily covered in a day. Undoubtedly, it is the most popular town outside the borders of metropolitan Ankara. With both local visitors and foreign tourists flocking in pretty much every day, Beypazarı is a source of pride for Ankara.
A short while ago, I took a day trip to Beypazarı to explore the town and its surroundings thoroughly, and it certainly surpassed my expectations. Walking along the streets, I peeked into the hole-in-the-wall shops, tasted the local specialties, learned about the diverse history of the area and then departed the town with a pleasant feeling and great memories.
Getting to Beypazarı is quite easy if you are planning to take public transportation. You can hop onto the buses from AŞTI (the main bus station in Ankara) which departs for Beypazarı every half hour. With your personal vehicle, it takes about an hour to travel the 100 kilometers (62 miles) to get there.
Let’s take a look at the Beypazarı itinerary that I will outline for you, allowing you to see the highlights of the town, as well as some of its more underappreciated spots.
9 a.m. – Breakfast at a gözleme shop
Who can say “no” to an authentic Turkish “serpme” breakfast? If you are going to be spending the whole day walking around, you will certainly need an energy-boosting breakfast to start your day.
Prior to my visit to Beypazarı, I did a little research on the internet about breakfast places in town. Everywhere I looked, one name stood out: Fatma Teyze’s Gözleme Shop. So, naturally, I also decided to try out their breakfast. And without any exaggeration, it blew my mind! This small shop, located at the end of a beautiful narrow street frequented by elderly men going about their metalworking and elderly women making handicrafts and fresh foods, served me one of the most memorable breakfasts I have ever had in Turkey.
It delighted me to see that this shop, as well as many establishments in Beypazarı, are run by women. You’ll be happy to see local women warmly greeting customers and doing their best to apply their entrepreneurial skills in every corner of the town with a cozy atmosphere.
Upon arriving, Gülten Hanım, Fatma Teyze’s daughter, welcomed me warmly and seated me at a table that overlooks the street. I had a very substantial Turkish breakfast, which was a platter of homemade goods, free of any preservatives. The atmosphere was so nice that I decided to take my time and sit for a good extra hour after I was done with my breakfast. I sipped my tea and observed people going about their day, and chatted with Gülten Hanım about the town events and the local cuisine. It was both peaceful and insightful.
As Gülten Hanım says, no products served under their roof have any preservatives added to them. It is their aspiration to serve natural, homemade food and allow customers to get a well-rounded impression of the local cuisine. She shared that the honey they have is purchased from local beekeepers, the marmalades, butter and cheeses are their own production, and the rest is acquired from local farms.
10:30 a.m. – Walking around Beypazarı bazaar
The town’s main square is a unique picture of small cobblestone alleys abounding with small-scale businesses and restaurants. You’ll find many different types of places ranging from bakeries to spice shops, and from herbalists to souvenir shops.
The shop owners are very friendly and welcoming in Beypazarı, so feel free to take a look into the shops and examine the goods they are selling.
11 a.m. – Exploring local specialties with free samples
Who doesn’t love bakeries? If you are a staunch bakery lover like me, you will feel you have fallen into a paradise of baked goods. The streets of the town are thriving with small bakeries boasting mouthwatering window displays. I cannot even remember how many times I was offered free samples of the famous Beypazarı Kurusu (hard biscuits, rich in butter), the 80-layered Beypazarı baklava and the Beypazarı simit (a sesame-free bagel, unlike the classic Turkish simit).
As the great carrot statue in the town square suggests, Beypazarı is known for producing the most delicious carrots in Turkey. I stumbled upon many small kiosks selling carrot juice that is squeezed fresh right in front of you upon request. Small bottles of juice are sold for amazingly cheap prices, like TL 2 ($0.25). Moreover, it is also possible to find fresh black mulberry juice at these kiosks as well. I highly suggest you try these out and get a taste of the unique harvest of the area.
12 p.m. – Visiting a museum for a dose of culture
In Turkey, the overall importance given to museums is impressive, and they are certainly up to international standards. Just like Beypazarı, many smaller Turkish towns boast their own quaint museums where a great deal of insightful information is provided about the history, culture and ethnography of the area.
Yaşayan Museum (literally translating to the Living Museum) is the first interactive ethnography museum in Turkey. It was founded in 2007 with the two main purposes of capturing the public life and displaying the crafts, goods and artisanal works created and used by the residents of Beypazarı. So, entering the museum is like stepping into a time capsule that takes you back to the early 20th century where you can see how people got by, dressed and ate. The museum was built inside a restored 20th-century Ottoman mansion, so, as you might surmise, it has an excitingly authentic ambiance.
To encourage more people to visit the Yaşayan Museum, the ticket prices are affordably priced at TL 6 for students and TL 8 for adults. It is open every day. Visiting hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. during the summer and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter. In official sources, the exact dates of the aforementioned periods are not provided. The museum administration informed me that visiting hours are subject to abrupt changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The safest option is to call the museum prior to your visit at +90 (312) 763-2223.
1 p.m. – Trying some local cuisine
Beypazarı Stew (steamed in terracotta stew pots), Beypazarı-style stuffed grape leaves and the 80-layer Beypazarı baklava are the most renowned dishes of this town. There are many highly recommended restaurants in Beypazarı where you can find these tasty dishes. I opted for Has Değirmencioğlu Restaurant and had a remarkable lunch.
Alongside my order, I was served a complimentary salad, a small bowl of pickles, spicy tomato paste, a bread basket and fresh turnip slices. I tried the Beypazarı meat stew (also prepared with vegetables for vegetarians) and the Beypazarı-style stuffed grape leaves. For dessert, I tried the 80-layer baklava, which was a little drier and denser in comparison to the classic Gaziantep baklava, but still very tasty. Afterward, with a content stomach, having tried a different local cuisine, I left for Suluhan.
2:30 p.m. – Relieve your fatigue at Suluhan
Before I departed central Beypazarı to explore its surroundings, I stopped by Suluhan, an early 17th-century caravanserai built in the Ottoman era that was an important economic center in the town. Back then, the Suluhan complex comprised of 26 rooms, a small mosque, a caravanserai and 54 shops, and hosted travelers, merchants and people of various trades who engaged in commerce or wanted a night’s rest during their journeys.
By the early 2000s, the structure had fallen into a state of disrepair. However, restorative work done by the municipality of Beypazarı has allowed Suluhan to be turned into a picturesque hall with an open-air cafe.
After examining every corner of this ancient structure, I sat down and grabbed a cup of Turkish tea.
3:30 p.m. – Explore the Inözü Valley
Now that I was done exploring downtown Beypazarı, I set out to explore the surroundings of the town. Only a five-minute drive away is the historical and natural wonder of the Inözü Valley. With picturesque hills towering gloriously over the valley, you will also find countless manmade caves. It is not known for sure when and by whom these caves were carved, however, the most plausible theories suggest that they were built by either the ancient Phrygians or Romans. It is also said that the caves contain ancient writings and intact art carved on the walls. Unfortunately, on account of the high-altitude location of these caves which renders them impossible to reach without professional climbing equipment, I was not able to confirm this information.
On the right side of the road, upon the bank of the narrow stream that cuts the valley in half, are a few open-air food establishments where you can have main dishes or light snacks, or drink some tea or coffee. They are all within the same price range and offer a similar quality of food. I personally recommend Zindancık Restaurant as it is the most popular spot in the valley among visitors.
Another intriguing attraction in the valley that you might like is the Yediler Türbesi (the Shrine of the Sevens), which is a few meters ahead of the Zindancık Restaurant, situated on the right side of the road. It is a small shrine with the coffins of seven anonymous people who are assumed to have come from Khorasan (a historical region which included modern-day Turkmenistan, Iran and Afghanistan) to Beypazarı and founded a dergah (Islamic monastery). This theory is not verified; however, it is still an interesting experience to pay a visit to this small, historical shrine.
5 p.m. – Stop by the Acısu Roman Burial Room
Don’t think that we are done with Beypazarı yet. On the way back to Ankara, there is a notable landmark among the suburbs of the village of Acısu. Before I left Beypazarı, I headed to this last destination on my itinerary where you’ll find the ancient Roman burial room of Acısu. Formerly called the Gelinkaya Mound, this burial room is located in a vast, uncultivated valley.
It was a unique experience to be the only person on the vast plain and exploring this old burial room all alone.
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