SLOW CITIES: TARAKLI & GOYNUK
SAKARYA’S SOUTHERN TOWNSHIP, TARAKLI MORE THAN DESERVES ITS TITLE OF SLOW CITY FOR ITS ELEGANT OTTOMAN MANSIONS, VIBRANT NEIGHBORHOOD CULTURE AND PRISTINE NATURE.
The Italian-based Cittaslow Movement has 14 members in Turkey, among them Taraklı & Goynuk, are the charming towns in Sakarya province. There are specific criteria for being a Slow City and an old Ottoman settlement whose characteristic texture remains intact, Taraklı & Goynuk more than meets all these conditions.
In his Book of Travels, Evliya Çelebi describes it as “an Ottoman village both fertile and famous for its vineyards, wooden spoons and combs.” Lying like an emerald green island midway between Istanbul and Ankara, Taraklı offers all these attractions year-round. Sixty percent covered in forest, the township boasts upwards of a hundred historic houses and stately mansions. Generally three-story and set in gardens, Taraklı houses exhibit traditional architectural elegance with their window grilles, cantilevered wooden balconies (cumba), historic pediments and intriguing door knockers.
One of the old mansions we will visit on Taraklı Square has been restored and converted into an ethnographic museum known as the Kültür Evi (House of Culture). Our proffessional guide will enlighten us about the unique history of the area starting from early ages. The Protected content Yunus Paşa Mosque meanwhile is a work of architect Mimar Sinan. It’s not hard to come across an historic bath or inn at any moment when strolling through the town’s narrow, cobbled streets. The chenar in the quarter of Yusuf Bey is exactly seven centuries old. And the fortress, which played such a key role in the region’s defense, is chock full of relics of a 4,000-year past. The ruins of a cistern and defense walls remind visitors that this was once a castle.
The colorful local bazaar of Tarakli will definitely attract your attention. In the bazaar you will find handmade crafts, wooden combs, spoons and especially products made by women that are presented in many varieties.
A FORGOTTEN TASTE: UHUT
Taraklı also boasts a sweet you’ve probably never even heard of: Uhut. No sugar is used in the preparation of this dish, a form of wheat porridge with a chewy consistency. The region’s chickpea mantı (ravioli) and köpük (foamy) halvah are famous too. And the çöğen root (Gypsophila or Baby’s Breath), which is popular in the area, is mixed with eggs, sugar and glucose and eaten with tahina (thick sesame oil). The local food and deserts that were formed in years are another indispensable of Tarakli. We will get to taste the local yummy stuff for sure.
GÖYNÜK CLOCK TOWER
The newest of the balconied Ottoman houses scattered through the area along the Göynük river is a hundred years old in this town surrounded today by dense forest. Starting from the small cute bridge over the river we will walk up to the Clock Tower as our guide tells us about the area. Rising in stark white on a hill overlooking a valley dotted with historic mansions at the old Ottoman town of Göynük, the Clock Tower is the town icon.
Stay away from the hustle and bustle of a noisy city and take this opportunity to disover new places, make new friends and have fun.