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x0x Old Mansions are Reawakened Kastamonu

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  • TRH
    [See also http://www.kastamonuserifebaci.com/oldsite/kastamonu.htm handicrafts from Kastamonu
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2005
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      [See also http://www.kastamonuserifebaci.com/oldsite/kastamonu.htm
      handicrafts from Kastamonu http://www.kastamonu.gov.tr/index_dosyalar/htm_dosyalar/dokuma.htm
      Older restored mansions: http://www.kastamonu.gov.tr/index_dosyalar/htm_dosyalar/konaklar.htm ]

      x0x Old Mansions are Reawakened Kastamonu

      By Akgun Akova

      Cities are the children of geography and history, each
      with its own spirit. Some murmur quietly from morning
      till night, others are in constant commotion. Some
      awake early, others yawn until noon. Some are
      presumptuous, others self-effacing. Some glow in the
      light of history, their stories continually retold over
      the centuries, others lie in its shadow, even their
      names forgotten, listening silently. The character of
      every city is shaken through the sieve of history over
      the centuries and millennia. Whenever I cross the
      mountains and set foot in Kastamonu, a mood of dignity
      enwraps me. I feel the breath of a city which has seen
      much, experienced much, and retained its self-respect
      through all. I see it as a patient dervish wandering
      with a clocktower on his back, perhaps because I
      encounter the tomb of a great man or saint at every
      step. Kastamonu remains Ottoman in aspect, graceful and

      The women who weave local fabrics also sell strained
      yogurt, golden clavaria fungi and mallow in the market.
      During the War of Independence it was the women of
      Kastamonu who held the first women's rally on 16 May
      1919, declaiming that their country should be sold to
      no one. That is why there is the statue of a local
      heroine, Serife Baci, in front of the City Hall, a
      building which is one of the masterpieces by the
      architect Vedat Tek. In my view this is the loveliest
      public statue anywhere in Turkey. Legend has it that
      Kastamonu was named after Moni, the daughter of a
      Byzantine general, and ever since women have figured
      large in its history, such as the courageous Halime
      Cavus. During the War of Independence arms and
      munitions were shipped to the port of Inebolu and
      carried inland to the nationalist forces via Cankiri
      and Ankara along what became known as the Independence
      Road. So although the city's architectural garb is
      Ottoman in character, it views the world with eyes that
      belong to the Republic.

      The clocktower which was erected here on 26 August 1885
      had originally stood on Sarayburnu headland in
      Istanbul. According to hearsay a favourite of the
      sultan miscarried her child when she was startled by
      the sudden chiming of the clock, upon which the
      clocktower was dismantled and sent into exile. As soon
      as the warm spring days begin, the tea garden beneath
      the tower fills with people who come here in the late
      afternoon to watch the sunset. As the lights of the
      city come on one by one in the falling dusk, the castle
      which surmounts the hill like a crown, the River
      Gökirmak that flows at the foot of the hill, and the
      ancient Hittite rock tomb known as Evkaya (House Rock)
      fade from sight. Children finish their homework,
      fathers come home tired from work, and mothers prepare
      ekþili pilaf for tomorr'ssn meal before retiring to
      bed. While the city sleeps the old houses begin to
      murmur. Sepetçioglu Konak greets Kirk Odali Konak.

      Konyali Konak, now a local cultural centre, tells
      proudly of the schoolchildren who filled its rooms with
      their cheerful voices that day. Osmanli Konak,
      otherwise known as Tahir Efendi Konak, is now a hotel,
      and responds by listing the famous guests that are
      staying in its rooms that night. Sirkeli Konak asks the
      time to Mazlumcular Konak, which stands close to the
      clocktower, and Eflanili Konak joins in their
      conversation. These magnificent old mansions which had
      sunk into silent neglect are now being reawakened by an
      ambitious restoration project initiated by the city's
      governor, Enis Yeter. As each one is restored to its
      former dignity, their melancholy mood is replaced by
      joy. Ellez Konak, which is now in the process of being
      restored, will soon reopen as Kastamonu Textile Museum.

      Nasrullah Mosque is delighted to see its old friends
      regain their former pride and self-respect, and its
      fountains splash and gurgle in congratulation. They say
      that anyone who drinks this water will remain in
      Kastamonu for seven years, but when all the beautiful
      old mansions are restored visitors will yearn to stay
      here whether they drink the water or not! Another
      interesting project is the transformation of the former
      coal warehouses into the Vedat Tek Memorial Art and
      Restoration Centre. What better tribute could there be
      to this great architect and his dedicated work than
      such an institution? The people of Kastamonu value
      their heritage and are delighted when others share
      their appreciation. Traditional hospitality to
      strangers lives on here, and if you knock on any door,
      the occupants are certain to invite in their 'guest of
      God' as unexpected visitors are called.

      Food will be placed on the table, and after the meal,
      while you sit comfortably against the cushion provided
      for you on the divan, you will be offered a glass of
      tea. Only the plump family cat will object to your
      presence! And if you put out your hand to stroke it, it
      will be reconciled, just as you only have to say hello
      to make friends with the people of Kastamonu.

      * Akgun Akova is a freelance writer
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