By Antonio Malara
Konya is the third chapter of my trip to Turkey, actually more than a real destination, this city was on the road of our journey from Pamukkale to Cappadocia. However, the road itself that brought us to Konya was beautiful to travel as it gave us beautiful scenery. We left the white of Pammukale around 7AM and until our first stop after a couple of hours, the scenery changed many times; from green fields to small lakes with mountains in the background and then again green meadows silhouetted against the backdrop of an intense blue sky. After our stop the scenery magically changed becoming totally mountainous, after a while we began to see the snow-capped mountains, then the first snow on the ground until it became total white except for the road.
Around 10 AM we stopped at a very large service station for a longer stop. We were surrounded by snow and it was very cold, the station looked a bit severe from the outside but inside it was completely different. The large entrance was carved into a rock and there were tables to consume. The even more beautiful part, however, was the back, in fact there was a terrace overlooking a magical background. We were in front of large plain with completely snow-covered trees that for some reason gave a gold tone. We stayed in that station for almost an hour and before getting on the bus someone from the group started playing snowballs, inevitably began a war between us which our guide stopped after a very short time.
After the departure, the snowy scenery accompanied us for about an hour and then thinned out and disappeared completely before entering Konya. The city was well presented from the outskirts, with large streets surrounded by greenery that divided tall residential buildings. I was very impressed by a white pedestrian bridge, a very large and disproportionate structure for its final use. In general the city gave me a sense of order and a lot of infrastructures were of recent construction. Our stop in Konya included two visits to two distinct places of worship, the Catholic Church of Saint Paul and the Selimiye Mosque. The places were close, let's say one opposite of the other, divided by an immense circular park. I don't know why we took the bus around the park several times before it stopped to let us get off. There were major works for the installation of tram tracks, I was able to notice how even that large construction site was managed in an orderly manner, probably also thanks to the size of the road itself, but that detail struck me a lot.
The church of Saint Paul was very close to the place where the bus dropped us off, which I didn't like because I honestly wanted to explore the city a bit. In addition to this our guide explained to us how it was quite dangerous for pilgrims to visit a Catholic place of worship there in Turkey. The risk was linked to the potential extremist attacks that were looking for that kind of target there; basically people like us. This made our visit as fast as possible, however Don Valerio still managed to celebrate a mass, I think one of the shortest in his life. The church of Saint Paul was very small but beautiful, the colors inside were bright and a beautiful all-white mezzanine in front of the altar gave a touch of personality to that small place. After mass and greeted the staff who worked there, we went back to the bus to go to lunch, in that moment I tried to do what I couldn’t do when we got off the bus. The desire to explore Konya was so great that I photographed every corner of those few blocks that separated us from the church to the park.
I remember little or nothing about lunch but I do remember when we arrived in front of the Selimiye Mosque. The area was very large and there were also works for the tram tracks, in general I liked large spaces like that. The mosque had two minarets, parts of the roofs and domes were blue, I liked how they matched with the color of the structure. For the rest, the architecture of this sacred place was very similar to the others mosques but was distinguished by its size and by the fact that the external space allowed it to be looked at and photographed in its entirety. Many times this is an aspect that is neglected, many important buildings are built close to others and this don’t allow us to admire them in the right way. After many photos and a visit inside, we left the mosque and just at that moment it began to snow. Despite this we managed to visit the nearby park, probably because of the season it was very flowery and colorful, the plants and trees had very vivid colors that I was able to capture with my camera. The place was also suitable for taking pictures from different perspectives so just when I was starting to have fun, I had to stop taking pictures because the snow was intensifying.
We left Konya around 3:30 PM and on our way we found ourselves again immersed in the midst of green plains. The scenario was more or less the same until around 7 PM when we entered the Cappadocia area, in fact there we started to see the firsts villages built on the tuff. We stayed overnight in the city of Nevsehir, after dinner we went to bed because the next day we had to wake up very early to go for the balloon ride but this is a story that I will tell in the next post.
Pictures: Antonio Malara
Camera: Nikon D800