The sun setting over Dogubayazit in eastern Anatolia Turkey where Mount Ararat stands tall amongst a spectacular range of mountains thatforms a
natural boundary between Turkey and Iran, Armenia,Georgia and Iraq.
IMPRESSIONS OF CIVILIZATIONS
The former capital of three successive empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, Istanbul which serves as a sentinel between Europe and Asia Minor, bravely
preserves a legacy of the past which is rich with classical knowledge, while looking to a modern future on the fringes of a fast growing European society. Boasting
almost 18 million inhabitants today, this royal is among the most beautiful one can lay eyes upon. From the palaces that Roman Emperors and Ottoman Sultans have
left behind, to the architectural basilicas and Grand Mosques adorned with Byzantine mosaics, the city which lives along numerous waterways, the Bosphorus, the
Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn and the Black Sea, offer glimpses of oneself, perhaps in an earlier life, shouting at gladiators in the hippodrome, or disembarking
with spices from a boat after having sailed here from Asia, when it was referred to as Constantinople.
Landscape, like music, is a universal language, and here in Turkey, this language speaks clearly with its abundant cultural artifacts, marking a passage of time
that bears the footprints of us all. I found the people here generally friendly with an eagerness to please. A place where East literally meets the West, the diverse
ethnic mix which is rich with color and tradition, make up the elementary layers, expressed through its magical landscape.
Like a well used carpet that has evolved over centuries, displaying intricate patterns that mimic its vast variety of geographical zones and peoples, the political
language of Modern Turkey though, has only been sculpted recently, since it became a Republic early in th twentieth century, and fashioned along the exploits of its
most recent warrior Mustafa Kemal. As one travels away from Istanbul towards the east, the poetic magic of this ageless land reveals itself with such wonder that it
takes one's breath away. After a short while in Constantine's city, which I enjoyed after the long flight from Australia, and where I managed to paint with near
perfect weather, the long twelve hour drive across the Bosphorus, to Anatolia, which is the Asian side of Turkey, and down towards its capital Ankara revealed
exactly why this land has attracted visitors for such a long time. The waterways of Istanbul gave way to endless rolling hills which eventually became foothills and
finally mountains which kissed heaven itself. Noah chose a perfect spot to carefully beach the Ark after the Great Flood.
The Anatolian mountains are endless and unsurpassed in its beauty. Through these passes, caravans with goods for trade traveled during the days of the silk route.
For me, Anatolia was one of those exotic words that seemed hard to fathom, but felt comfortable. Now, this word revealed exactly its wonderful nature, as it
gradually showed me glimpses of other ancient civilizations, the Hattis, the Hittites, the Phrygians, the Urartians, and the Lydians. These civilizations each leaving
legends that we are still familiar with today. As I traveled along highways built as recently as the fifties when Turkey finally modernized its arterial access, and sold
itself down the oil route, these legends came to mind as a thunderstorm threatened, bathing the late afternoon sky with violets and deepening reds. The wealth of
the Lydian King Croesus, King Midas with his golden touch, and the Knot of Gordion that young Alexander was able to undo only with a blow of his sword. It seemed
as if every stone along this endless highway had a magical tale to tell. I am a seasoned traveler, having visited so many countries these last few years, but the
richness of the Anatolian mountains and its rolling hills, had one last surprise for me before I finally arrived at my destination which was a region called Cappadocia. I
had heard of these hills, perhaps in a dream or maybe from a legend that refused to go away. Like Petra in Jordan which also lay on the silk route, ancient people
had sought refuge from dangers by carving their homes from solid rock, only allowing for a single entry for safety.
Rocks at the Rose Valley Goreme Cappadocia Anatolia Turkey 26x 20 inches 65 x 50 cm 2006
Uchisar Cappadocia Anatolia Turkey 26 x 20 inches 65 x 50 cm 2006
Here in Cappadocia, after an exhaustive twelve hour drive from the bustle of Istanbul, I was suddenly stung into wakefulness by one of nature's most bizarre and
exquisitely attractive wonders when arriving at Goreme, near Nevsehir, south of Ankara. Cappadocia is the region given to the satelite towns of Uchisar, Goreme,
Avanos, Urgup, Derinkuyu, Kaymakhli, and Ihlara, where an unprecedented act of nature had over the course of millions of years shaped the most fantastic rock
formations that threatens one's perspective. Especially how humans have adapted here over eons of time.
The archaeological explanation which had formed these “ Fairy chimneys”, which became virtual underground cities for fleeing Christians from Rome. and also
sunsequent inhabitants who needed protection from raiding parties, given the lucrative trade that happened here, was the eruption of three active volcanoes. These
passive peaks which today boasts the mountains of Erciyes, Hasandag, and Gulludag are strung across Cappadocia like beads. They erupted with blinding ferocity
almost 70 million years ago in the Upper Miocene, and as the lava cooled and presented these fantastic rocks shapes to humans seekeing shelter. Evidence of
habitation as early as the Neolithic Age, is presented in prehistoric rock paintings found in some caves. The flowing lava cooling and shaping these fantastic forms by
strong winds and floodwaters which tore away the softer volcanic rock and left shapes that defy the imagination. Because the rock that was left, was soft enough to
carve and manually shape, the region has been inhabited since prehistoric times. The area is littered with clay tablets, which researchers refer to as “ Cappadocian
tablets” inscribed with cuneiform writing, referring to tax regulations, interest rates, marriage contracts, trade disputes and the recording of daily events. The Hattis,
then Hittites, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Selyuks and finally Ottomans, all left evidence of their presence in these caves. It is the early Christians,
however who have left the most beautiful frescoes in their underground churches, carved from solid rock with concealed entrances.
From here I embarked on a two day train journey to the border of Iran, across northern Iraq, to the city of Dogubeyazit which lies at the foot of Mount Ararat.
Basilica of Hagia Sophia ( Holy Wisdom ) Istanbul Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Built by Constantinople I, the Basilica of the Holy Wisdom is perhaps one of the finest buildings of all time. It was reconstructed by the Emperor Justinian in the
6th century AD. The dome rises 55 meters into the air with a diameter of 31 meters, adorned with the finest of Byzantine mosaics.
Imperial Sultanahmet Mosque Istanbul Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
The only Mosque ourside Mecca which boasts six minarets, the Imperial Sultanahmet Mosque which is also called the Blue Mosque faces across from the
Hagia Sophia Museum. Seen through the water feature on Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul during May with early summer temperatures rising but near perfect
painting weather. The Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, and is adorned with interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles.
Istanbul from Sultan Eyup Turkey 22 x 26 inches 50 x 65cm 2006
Painted from the Pierre Loti cafe which is atop a hill overlooking the Great Mosque of Eyup, which lies outside the city walls at the northern end of the Golden
Horn. Eyup was the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, who died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in 670 AD. This was the first mosque built after
the Ottoman conquest of the city and is a highly venerated shrine in Istanbul today. On the horizon at left, the Galata Tower, a Genoese construction of 1348 which
rises 62 meters, followed by various major mosques, the Ayasofya ( Hagia Sophia ) Museum at Sultanahmet, Sultanahmet mosque ( Blue Mosque ) and the Imperial
Suleymaniye Mosque which dominates the skyline on the western bank of the Golden Horn waterway.
Kiz Kulesi ( Leander's Tower ) Istanbul Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
One of the most romantic symbols of Istanbul, Leander's Tower was built on a tiny island offshore from Udskudar at the southern bank of the Bosphorus
waterway. The first tower was built in the 12th century and then reconstructed during the 18th century. Across the water lies the first encampment of Constantinople
I with the Hagia Sophia Museum (left ) and the Sultanahmet Mosque visible at left of the tower. The Topkapi Palaces also visible between the tower and the two
Imperial Suleymaniye Mosque and Galata Bridge Istanbul Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65cm 2006
Cascading domes and four slender minarets adorn the Imperial Suleymaniye Mosque, which commands the western bank of the Golden Horn in Istanbul. This
mosque, which is considered to be the most beautiful of all the Imperial mosques here, was built between 1550 and 1557 by Siran, the renowned architect of the
Ottoman Empire's golden age. Erected on the crest of a hill on which most Roman Catholic Basilicas are built, it is conspicuous, given its great size, with an exquisite
Mihrab ( prayer niche ) , showing the direction to Mecca, and a finely carved white marble Mimber ( pulpit ). Stained glass windows allows for a kaleidoscopic array
of colored light streaming into the building. Both Suleyman and his wife Hurrem Sultan ( Roxelane ), had their mausolea built in the gardens of the complex which
also contains the tomb of Sinan. Today the mosque complex houses four medresses, theological schools, a school for medicine, a caravanserai, a Turkish bath, a
kitchen as well as a hospice for the poor.
Kilyos Istanbul Turkey 20x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Kilyos lies on the Black Sea on the European side of the Bosphorus. Painted during May after an arduous bus journey from Eminonu in Istanbul which took in
the view of the western bank of the Bosphorus to Sariyer and from there inland to the Black Sea. Hot early summer weather with haze.
Goreme Cappadocia Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
The Black Mountain and White Mountain seen from the Love Valley at Goreme Cappadocia
Meadow at Goreme Cappadocia Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Fairy Chimneys seen across an orchard at Goreme, Cappadocia during early summer. Blue sky with scant clouds appearing late in the afternoon. Warm to hot
Yesterday, I painted the Rocks at Rose Valley here in Goreme in blinding heat. Although the tourist season has not kicked in properly yet, the temperatures are
alarmingly high after a mild winter. Today I will be rolling east towards Mt Ararat. 16 hours by train taking soldiers to the Iraq border near Erzurum and then from
there a four hour bus ride to the Iranian border and Mt. Ararat. Turkey is proving exhausting, but incredibly fascinating, which calls for real old school traveling.
Erzurum feel s as if it is almost the end of th earth. Eastern Turkey is rugged. The winters are mercilessly harsh and the summer heat unforgiving. It feels like
traveling through the Himalayas, with fast flowing rivers rushing from snow capped mountains. The train snakes its way like a tired and crazed mechanical worm
through country which looks as if nobody has ever laid eyes on it before. As I travel east towards Iran, the altitude rises with every mile and the peaks seem to be as
steep as the valleys are deep. I marvel at the engineering feat that has created this link to the east, which connect Turkey to Armenia. Georgia, and Iran.
Emerald green rivers rush through solid granite on its way to vast inland lakes which makes Turkey the greatest reservoir of fresh water in this part of the
world. People in these hills are poor and their lives are harsh. Tractors, donkeys and humans share common ground, tending to vast agricultural projects and
preparing for the next winter before summer has properly set in. An abundance of wildflowers and poppies create a magical setting full of color. These mountains
are the foothills of a greater range which houses Mount Ararat which I have wanted to see since I was a child, when learning about Noahs Ark and the pairs of
animals that survived the great flood. To the south lay Syria and Iraq. Countries which command the world's attention and focal points in a troubled region. Although
I have been warned about the dangers of traveling through certain areas, given an insurgency by the PKK, a Kurdish nationalist group, I am eager to make contact
with the Kurdish people whom I greatly admire, and more realistically concerned about straying into Iranian territory by accident. Two German travelers have
recently been captured by Iranian border security soldiers in a disputed area, and are still held captive despite western concern. So I am not traveling with a great
amount of fear, but rather with an excited eagerness, to be welcomed into the homes of these colorful Kurds, some who live in tents. The children all know two
words in English. Hello, and Money. Not a bad vocabulary, given their dire circumstances, in a land that the world seem to have forgotten. As I travel deeper into this
troubled part of Turkey, there are more frequent appearance of soldiers and foot patrols, reminded, that this is not the land of Mary Poppins. Despite the onset of
summer, these snow capped sentinels mark the thinning atmosphere and higher altitudes. At Erzincan, firearms are unholstered and Rambo style soldiers strut
around the station platform as if a firefight is imminent. If I would be viewing animals in a zoo, this would be how young pubertal males would behave in the ape
enclosure, but here, at least, these young boys are proudly defending their heritage and faith against a phantom enemy. Make belief wars, do seem more real, in
such a theatrical arena such as this. In Turkey, just about everybody smoke, as this is one of the cheapest and deadliest pleasures still attainable. The sun beats
down and my wheels roll higher toward the heavens at the edge of the universe. In this near forgotten world, asphalt is at a premium and villages cling to impossible
hillsides in near desparation. My studio is slowly beginning to reveal itself, poplars, reminded of Monet's paintings seem to appear in impenetrable gulleys or growing
on the edges of fast flowing rivers. Wildflowers run along the railroad track in merriment. Erzurum looks as if it was thrown together in a great hurry. My bus to the
mountain leaves here at midnight and gets there around five am. I have been traveling for two days now, and the days have rolled into one long blur, a state of mind
which only great journeys can create. This is the famous silk route. I am tremendously proud to have had a slight taste of it.
Dogubayazit and Mount Ararat
I rolled into Dogubayazit at 4.30 am on the dawn of the third day. After arriving in Agdir from Erzurum by bus and being dumped at the edge of town with only the
dogs awake and internal security police patroling the streets from insurgent guerrillas.I am constantly reminded how close the war in Iraq is, and how unresolved
political matters are around here. Very friendly people, but difficult language barrier. I am offered chai ( tea ) from a flask and told where to catch the bus to the
foothills of this famous mountain, still more than 100 kilometers away. As I head up toward these incredible peaks, the weather changes to oppressive humidity and
theatening thunderstorms. Temperatures here, can change in an instant and with the wind strength rising, it is not uncommon to have gales arriving from nowhere.
When I first glimpsed Mount Ararat, it was as if in a dream. She looked too perfect, commanding the entire world with a majesty that is only found in fables of the
East. Conical in shape and tremendously high at 5137 meters, it towers over everything in site. Anorther mountain nearby called little Ararat is dwarfed into near
insignificance, and the rest of this beautiful range of mountains, some snowcapped, linger at a safe distance. I found lodging at the foot of the famous Ishak Pasa
Palace which stands magestically among the ruins of old Dogubeyazit, which was destroyed by Russian bombings during the early part of the twentieth century when
Ottoman regions were attacked from all sides. Mustapha Kemal sent troops here to help protect this town, succeeding in a glorious victory against the Russian
invaders. Local Kurds have subsequently used these ruins as shelter, tending to flocks of sheep and goats. The Palace itself was built in 1685 by a local Kurdish chief,
with royalties extracted from tariffs by Silk Road travelers, who passed here from Armenia and Iran. Dogubayazit is only a few kilometers from the
Iranian border, and this explains the high military presence here. While painting Mount Ararat, the local military commander visited my "office" with his entourage,
welcomed me to Turkey and offered any assistance that I might need. Kurdish hospitality is unsurpassed and later in the day a young boy brought me a tray with
lunch which consisted of bread, fried fish and salad with a pot of tea.
Dogubayazit is a frontier town in every sense of the word. Dusty and windblown, with through traffic from all parts of the region. It is heavily fortified with a
significant military presence, given its strategic importance. Although too far from the more pleasurable parts of Turkey, where tourists flock to, at this time of year.
Those that make it this far, either carry onward to China, across Iran and through all the Stans of ex Soviet Republic States, or they are here to climb to the summit
of Mount Ararat. I have seen very few westerners since arriving here from central Turkey more than a week ago and have enjoyed the solitude among these
extremely hospitable Kurds. The weather has been good, but occasionally fierce winds can appear from nowhere, making painting difficult. Electric storms usuall roll
in during late afternoon, occasionally cutting the electric lines. Loss of electricity is frequent, which means that whenever it happens, there is no panic. Houses are
protected by stone walls from the cold winds that blow across these plains during winter, and from the dust that is kicked up during summer. The region is generally
poor, where eking out a living from livestock is given a significant new meaning. Inhabited mainly by fiercely proud Kurds, there is tension between the regular
Turkish soldiers and the rest of the population of Kurds, who claim most of Eastern Turkey as their own.
At Kani Kork village, which is the last before Mount Ararat, both humans and animals are locked in an impoverished embrace. Here, even the dogs are too tired
to bark, glaring instead, from under bits of corrugated iron, sheltered from the wind and unforgiving sun. Herds of goats and sheep are driven into the mountain, to
escape the extreme heat in summer, which can reach well into the forties. Three weeks ago it snowed here, and today, the temperatures were well over thirty
degrees centigrade. The extremities of nature are etched on young faces, who are all too eager to smile and offer the weary traveler some chai ( tea ) or cigarettes,
which cost less than two lira ( one dollar US ) a pack. Given that tobacco disguises hunger, I have yet to meet a Kurd, or Turk who does not smoke. Simple measures
for extravagant and dangerous pleasures. Despite social conditions, these descendants of Noah, live in one of the most spectacular parts of the world, if one were to
believe that the Ark ended up on this mountain. Given the amount of stray dogs around here, it would seem that Noah must have carried much more than just one
pair of dogs on his Ark. The great Ishak Pasa Palace, is set high in the foothills of Mount Ararat and seven kilometers from Dogubayazit. Walking into town seem
casually natural, and occasionally tractors carrying sheep or goats into town, double as taxis. It is a joy to walk for hours in these mountains which seem to go on
forever, the only danger being straying into Iranian territory or being taken hostage by over zealous nationalists.
I have traveled in impoverished regions of the world before, and usually a level of criminal activity would be a danger to travelers. Here though, in what the
locals refer to as Kurdistan, the hospitality shown towards travelers are remarkable. Lack of infrastructure would account for most of this, but also it seems, the faith
of Islam which seems to run like a golden vein through everything that one encounters. I greet everybody in the customary Kurdish manner and this opens many
doors. They would usually inquire about my faith and after quizzical exchanges, would regard me as one of their own. It seems that health care and education are
the biggest problems that these outposts are in dire need of. Unlike Istanbul, where education and learning of Turkey's glorious past are etched upon young minds,
here in the hills leading to one of the most famous mountains on earth, which many Christians believe, was where Noah's Ark finally came to rest, after God had
instructed him to gather a pair of every species on earth, and protected by this floating ship, they survived a moral cleansing of the earth by flood. Here, I found
Kurdish communities who have no chance at all, to better their lives, except their intense belief in Islam and Mohammed as their Prophet.
The Moslem belief concerning Noah, is that the Ark landed on the north face of Mount Cudi ( 2,114 meters ) which is in Sirnak, near the Iraq border. Sirnak
translates into ( Sir-City and Nak-Noah ). His tomb is supposedly to be found at Cizre which is forty five kilometers away. However the Noah saga is as intriguing and
unresolved as most things around here. Two weeks ago a US senator accompanied by Nasa scientists spent ten days here at Dogubayazit, exploring a site on the
other side of Mount Ararat in search of the Ark. This area is earlier Mesopotamia where Syriac Jacobite monasteries indicate once thriving religious communities.
From the northern plains of East Anatolia, I am heading towards Mesopotamia where early history predates 7,000 BC and covers many civilizations to the present
day. In this land which encircles the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and where Abraham, father to many religions, was born at Sanli Urfa, which is referred to as Ur in
the Old Testament. Abraham later moved to the city of Harran, a few kilometers from the Syrian border, and which was an important Mesopotamian cultural center.
This entire region abounds with historic biblical and archaeological remains, and I am eager to paint the hills that Abraham greeted in the morning when he awoke.
In Turkey, as in Oman, the subtleties of Islam and its leaning towards the human condition, is very well illustrated by the nature of its youth, and also its
tolerant institutions. We are all at the mercy of religious fundamentalism, with its roots found among those who profess to occupy higher moral grounds. A countries
state of civil evolution though, should be judged by the extend to which one feels threatened, when traveling there. In this ancient land where civilization seem to
have found root more than 9,000 years ago, I have only been met with warmth, civility and joy. A wonderful respite from other parts of the world where I have
feared for my safety. With the daily horrific news from Baghdad, a few hundred kilometers to my south, where a clash of civilizations are being fueled by media,
religious and economic interests, the tranquility of these mountains appear dreamlike in contrast.
Leaving Dogubayazit was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I traveled south to the city of Van which lies to the south and through which most of the trade
with Iran is managed. Initially I intended to stay here in order to paint the Lake, but decided to take the ferry across this spectacular lake to Tatvan on the other side.
The railway line which link Teheran the capital of Iran, to Istanbul in Turkey, boards the ferry here, which is specially built to take nine carriages in its massive hull
and deposit them on the other side of the lake five hours sailing time away. I watched with awe, the unloading of these carriages when the ferry arrived from the
other side. This tedious process taking over an hour, as they were shunted from the ferry and manoevered into one long train, which finally left and another was
boarded onto the ferry in its place. There seem to be four of these massive ferries operating on Lake Van, with two in operation at all times and the other two
repaired or on standby. I would imagine that this lake freezes over during the winter. Ringed by mountains still sporting snow caps in early summer, I traveled higher
than pockets of dirty dry ice on my way from Dogubayazit to Van across very high mountains, sometimes touching the Iranian border. In these mountains, pockets of
black volcanic rock suggesting that geological activity around here happened fairly recently. The ride across the lake was one of the best boat rides I have ever taken
anywhere in the world. Apart from myself, there was about four other passengers on a boat which was built for many hundreds. The desolation and spectacular lake
ringed by mountains sporting late winter snow, was dreamlike and somewhat appropriate in a chapter from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Tatvan which lies on the
western side of the lake seemed like a place that I needed to miss. I was checked by the military control for the fifth time in Eastern Anatolia, and when I inquired
about the reason for all this frantic searching, I was told that it was to check for driving licences. Mine seemed to be in order. I suspected a more sinister plot behind
all these automatic guns and armored vehicles. A midnight ride west to Malatya near Mount Nemrut seemed more appropriate and I arrived in Mesopotamia as the
sun was rising, reminded again of all these civilizations that flourished here, and of Abraham, who inspired the world in the manner that he did.
The birthplace of Prophet Abraham, Sanli Urfa, though did not look too well. Hot and dusty with garbage everywhere. Sadly this was to be the case in Harran,
forty kilometers to the south, as well. Once a flourishing cultural center that inspired matters of the spirit, today, it is impoverished and desperately wanting. I had
intended to paint in both places given their historical importance, but felt at odds with the Arab communities here, who showed lack of tolerance against Kurds. Since
arriving in Turkey, it was in Harran that I heard the notorious “H” word for the first time. A young Arab expressing his feelings towards Kurds in the area. For a town
that once had so much love, that it inspired three different religions, to have fallen from grace in such a sad and pitiful manner. An early morning start putting miles
miles between myself and the ruins of Harran and Sanli Urfa. I felt relieved that I was heading back towards the Mediterranean Sea which I had not seen since
visiting Italy last year. It took a whole day to cover the distance to the sea. The Turkish Mediterranean coast is where most Romans preferred to have their hiliday
villas, and this soon became apparent, with all the ruins littering the coast west of Mersin. I have made camp very close to the sea at Erdemli, near Sillifke and will
most likely work here, given some fine ocean views and white rocks along the coast as well as trees. It has been four days, since I have had a good sleep, and I
seem to have found a fine hotel which is clean and sports more than one power point. I have a good feeling about this town. Tourism is down, along here for this
time of year, because of the World Cup in Germany, which means that it is ideal for visiting, with privacy costing a little less than usual.
Mount Ararat North Eastern Anatolia Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Mount Ararat painted from Dogubayazit showing the snow line at 3500 meters. Early summer with crisp clear weather and warm temperatures. The summit is
5137 meters high and can be reached in three days of climbing. Jamu, the local Kurdish guide who takes parties to the top, said that the mountain creates an
obsession in westerners about Noah and his Ark, and that his father has taken an American astronaut into the mountain almost every year for eight years in search
of remains of the Ark.Jamu has taken the same person to the summit in search of the Ark for the last four years.I am not obliged to divulge the identity of this astronaut.
Ishak Pasa Palace Dogubayazit Anatolia Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Colak Abdi Pasa began construction on this palace in 1685. His son, a Kurdish chieftain named Ishak comleted it in 1784. Architecturally, an amalgam of
Seljuk, Ottoman, Georgian, Persian and Armenian styles, which includes a mosque and a tomb. It was built on the ruins of a fortress dating back to Urartian times (
1300 BC to 700 BC ). The tomb was built in the style of a Seljuk Kumbet which contain carvings, Persian style reliefs of floral decorations leading to the sarcophagi.
Also containing a library and fine works of art, the mosque was still used for prayers, until as recently as the 1980's. The gold plated door of this magnificent palace
was taken back with them, when the Russians fled Dogubayazit , after they had bombed the village during the first world war. Today, you can see it on view in the St
Petersburg Hermitage Museum in Russia. The palace itself was left unscathed but every home around it was raised to the ground. Today the new Dogubayazit city
lies at the foot of this hill, to the right of the palace. Kurdish shepherds inhabit the old ruins, too poor to rebuild the village. Armenia and Turkey lies a few kilometers
to the east, making this an important town during the Silk Road days which linked Xian in China to Istanbul and Troy on the west coast of Turkey and open to the
Mediterranean Sea. Today, excursions to the summit of Mount Ararat are arranged from here. Also those seeking evidence of Noah's Ark which scientists believe is a
petrified boat-shaped rock, 21 kilometers from Dogubayazit. Also of note around here is the world's second largest metoerite crater which lies 28 kilometers away.
Mount Ararat from Kani Kork Village Anatolia Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Kani Kork is the last Kurdish village before Mount Ararat situated at over 1000 meters above sea level. Mud brick homes are surrounded by high stone walls in
order to protect villagers from the fierce winds which frequently blow in these parts. This is an early morning scene with the summit in view. Later the wind picked
up causing havoc, and making painting in these conditions extremely difficult. Temperatures were mild, leading into an afternoon thunderstorm with strong winds. At
these altitudes, weather conditions can change in an instant which means that I have to carry an all weather pack. Even in this remote part of the world, a satellite
dish brings CNN into the homes of these villagers.
Mount Ararat North Eastern Anatolia Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Another Mount Ararat painting from the same orchard near Dogubayazit. Clear day with summit visible. Hot temperatures, but friendly Kurds suplied me with
watermelon and lunch which consisted of mashed potato, laced with spices, also bread and a pot of tea.
Kizkalesi and Korykos Turkish Medeterranean
King Antiochus III of Syria, who built the great statues at Nemrut in Mesopotamia, recaptured the Cillician coast from the Egyptians in 197 BC. Roman
occupation is dated as early as 67 BC, though it only became a Roman province in 72 AD. There are many legends and myths in an area which bears such a rich
history as the south coast of Turkey, and it is such a legend that talks of a Cypriot prince Korykos after whom this little harbor city is named. It must have been a very
important city in its heyday as it is mentioned in the writings of Herodotus ( 484 – 425 BC ), as well as Cicero ( 106 – 43 BC ) This is reflected by the fact that unlike
many other Roman provinces, Korykos had the privilege to mint Roman coins. These coins bore the inscription of Hermes, the main deity and god of commerce and
communication. The city of Korykos flourished during the Christian era and the Maiden's Castle known by locals as Kizkalesi dates from the beginning of the crusades
and forms a link in the chain of coastal fortifications established by the Byzantine admiral Eugenius in 1104, to defend and protect the frontiers of byzantium. The
legend of the maiden's Castle of Kizkalesi, takes its name from a fantastic tale that has all the ingredients of a great tale requiring a minimum of words. It is called
“The poor Princess”, and begins, as all great legends should, with the words, “Once upon a time, ...there was a King who had a daughter whom he loved tenderly.
When he, to his great sorrow, learned that his daughter would die from a snakebite, the King built a palace in the sea, where his daughter could live until the poison
took effect. However, a viper hidden in a basket of the rarest fruit , which the King himself had sent his beloved princess, bit her on the finger and brought about her
During the decline of Byzantium, with attacks by Turks becoming more frequent, the city of Korykos sought help from the Cypriot King Peter I of Cyprus in 136. Finally
in 1448, it was conquered by the sultan of Karaman, Ibrahim Bey and then in turn seized by the Ottomans in 1482. Like most Byzantium cities in these hills around
here, Korykos fell into decline and eventual ruin, leading to its abandonment for more than four centuries until the beginning of the 20th century when local Turks
returned here to settle. Today, it is very sparsely populated with locals reliant on the tourist industry with hotels and restaurants. After traveling through the entire
eastern part of Turkey these last few weeks, it is good to be near the ocean again, though very hot and humid. I have painted the maiden's Castle from the site
which held the initial Roman harbor, and also from the ruins of the onshore castle which was protected by two walls and also held two churches. The blue round
flowers which are everywhere around here reminded me of planets swaying in the breeze, but I was to learn that they sting when touched. In Harran, to the east of
here, and where the prophet Abraham spent most of his life, the history is even older than here, but even here along the Mediterranean coast, it seems as if every
rock protects a fantastic tale worth telling. The Aegean is a fantastic region filled with lore and magnificent tales. I am heading westwards now during the summer
when most tourists flock here from Europeans countries like Germany and Holland. For them it is the only sun they will encounter, but for a weary traveler like me,
who have suffered the heat in Arabia, Africa, Australia and Arizona, the best weather I could have right now is a cold miserable day with rain.
Kizkalezi Castle Korykos Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Settlers from the Aegean region arrived here during the 4th century AD. Before that, as early as 67 AD, the Roman Emperor Pompeius had rescued the
settlement from attacks by pirates and it became known as Korykos. It grew into a prosperous harbor city and Roman aquaducts were built to provide the city with
water. As a result of this, Korykos became an important trading center and the main center for olive oil export. During the Byzantine period, this economic hub
became very important and rivaled that of Egypt, Cyprus and Rome itself. In 1448 Sultan Ibrahim ruled here and it became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1482. The
Castle on the Island from where this canvas was painted, and the one on the island, was originally connected by a causeway and in the surrounding areas, evidence
of sarcophagi, a Roman harbor, rock tombs, some inscribed, were found.
Korykos Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
This is the second canvas of the Maidens Castle at Korykos which was painted from the ruins of the connecting castle on the mainland. The two were
connected by a causeway which has since disappeared, but seem to have been there during the early nineteenth century when western travelers here, indicated its
sighting. Painted during an extremely hot day which is vividly etched in my memory. I first glimpsed these flowers from the train and they looked like planets in the
universe. Oppressive conditions with a wide film of clouds moving lazily towards the west. The planet flowers and hot conditions though created an attractive
envelope of light throughout the entire canvas of light blue turning into pink.
Olympos and Fethiye
The summer heat continues to beat down in Turkey and I have sought the refuge of shade to paint here at Olympos after stopping briefly at Kemer south of
Antalya. With the touristseason now in full swing, this pleasure coast of Turkey was inundated with holidaymakers from Europe, occupying every conceivable space.
After the quiet of eastern Turkey, I was alittle bewildered by the frenzy. After spending one night at Kemer, I headed for the quiet of Olympos the next day, further
down the coast. The mini bus which is called Dolmen here,needed to be flagged down on the highway, but the ride into spectacular mountains with occasional
glimpses of a deep blue Mediterranean through thick forest, was more than Ineeded. Here at Olympos, I took some time out from painting and caught my breath
after the hectic bus rides from the east.
The ancient city of Olympos was named after the sacred Greek mountain of the gods, 80 kilometers south of Antalya, in a region which was called Lycea.
During the end of the
second millennium BC when piracy was rife in the Mediterranean, a decline coupled with poverty caused its destruction in 78 BC. Later, during the Roman occupation
though, it was rebuilt and prospered under its patron gods of Zeus and Athena who were worshiped by the Lyceneans. During the early 1st millennium, Christianity
took hold here, but it's very first Bishop Methodius, was killed by the Romans, becoming one of the first Christians martyrs in history. Olympos flourished during the
Byzantine period, but was destroyed again after persistent attacks by Arabs. During the period of the crusades, it formed a vital link in the chain of fortresses. Its
narrow harbor perfect concealment for Roman longboats powered bysail and oarsmen. Ultimately, with the gradual decline of Bizantium, it became impossible to
defend, and finally abandoned to Seljuk and Ottoman Turks during the middle centuries.Western travelers who have visited Olympos during the 19th century, noted
that it was inhabited by nomadic tribes.
The origins of this Lycean city are vague, but it is thought to be around the second century BC, taking its name from Mount Olympos which is thought to be
present day Tahtali Dag,the highest peak around here and about 16 kilometers to the north. There are numerous mountains with this name in the classical world,
though this city made its entry into theminds of historians during the second century BC when it had the right to mint its own coins, given its importance in the Roman
Olympos Turkey 26 x 20 inches 65 x 50 cm 2006
The fort at Olympos was used to defend against pirates and later as an administrative post. Most of the early settlement established itself on the northern
bank of the river along steep incline which offered views of the sea and protection against attack.
Fethiye Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
The harbour of Fethiye painted from across the bay. This city was named after Turkey's famous aviator Fathiye Bey who tried flying from Istanbul to Cairo in
1914, and lost his lifein the attempt. Today the city is based on tourism with its harbor serving as a gateway to the Greek islands and the rest of the Mediterranean.
Ephesus Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Roman ruins at Ephesus. One of the best preserved Roman sites outside Pompei. I painted this from the safety of the shade of an old fig tree, hence the fig
leaves at top left hand corner of painting. This was a thriving Roman community that lived here, and even today, it seems as if they all left in a tremendous hurry,
leaving a beautiful city behind that have stood the test of the elements and also that of time. The July weather was hot and unforgiving with only madmen and
Englishmen out of doors. I have long since given up wrestling with conditions and nowadays, just hope that I am alive at the end of the day.
Turgutreis Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
The local Mosque at Turgutreis near Bodrum with some boats anchored in its small harbor.
Bodrum Castle Turkey 20 x 26 inches 50 x 65 cm 2006
Painted from the shoreline along Cumhuriyet Street during the heat of July