The surroundings of Konya include the national salt works at Cihanbeyli and the regional center of Hadim.
Cihanbeyli - Salt works
In Cihanbeyli a salt town about 100km/62mi north of Konya, a road forks off to the national salt works 23km/14mi away at Yavsan Tuzlasi by the Tuz Gölü. The management will usually permit a guide to accompany visitors around the extensive complex on the lake. Another smaller private salt works is situated by Bulak Gölü some 15km/9mi to the south.
The regional center of Çumra is an important station on the Istanbul to Baghdad railroad and also lies at the heart of the 50,000ha./123,500 acre Çumra irrigation zone in the Konya Ovasi. This irrigated area, the first such enterprise in the Middle East, was established by a German company before the First World War. The town grew up after 1912 around the once uninhabited station of Içeri Çumra which is situated a little further to the west when political refugees from the Balkan wars began to arrive. Nearby are the neolithic excavations of Çatalhüyük.
Çatalhüyük was occupied between the seventh and third millennia BC. Traditional dwellings have been uncovered showing flat-roofed living spaces that were reached by wooden ladder.
130km/80mi south of Konya lies the regional center of Hadim. A passable road runs eastwards for 39km/24mi to a spot known as Yerköprü (bridge) near the administrative center of Aladag. Near Yerköprü and a small hydro-electric power station the powerful karst spring of the Karasu, a tributary of the Göksu Nehri (Kalykadnos), has formed a natural calcareous tuff barrage in the valley of the main river and this causes the Göksu Nehri to disappear underground into a 500m/600yd long cave. Of special interest are the 20m/65ft waterfalls at the entrance and exit to the cave through which the stream rushes from the travertine bridge into a small lake formed by the Göksu Nehri.
Only 12km/7mi south of Hadim, the picturesque town of Taskent with its traditional, flat-roofed houses clings like an amphitheater to the vertical rocks and overhangs from a dizzying height the deep valley cut by a tributary of the upper Göksu Nehri.
A road leads 34km/21mi southwest of Konya to the village of Hatunsaray on the Kavak Deresi. It is the ancient town of Lystra, home of Timothy and a disciple of the apostle Paul. The latter cured a lame man there and was then almost stoned to death (Acts 14: 8-20). Only a few remains of Lystra are preserved but they include a Temple of Zeus.
Close to the northern edge of Konya opposite the fork to Aksaray lies an attractive caravanserai which was restored in 1956 and includes a raised nave and ten transepts, strong semi-circular supporting pillars, central brick dome with an octagonal drum and narrow windows.
The small town of Ilgin lies on the road to Afyon some 85km/53mi northwest of Konya near the ancient site of Tyriaion where, according to Xenophon, the Persian king Kyros stopped for three days to muster his troops. In 1576 Mustafa Pasa built the Pir Husein Bey Camii for Murat II, following the same plans as for the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) in Istanbul. Some sulfur baths rebuilt by Alaeddin on the Byzantine ruins can be seen to the west of the town on a hill.
About 61km/38mi northwest of Konya stands the town of Kadinhani (women's caravanserai), a Seljuk caravanserai that dates from 1223. It was endowed by a woman named Raziye Hatun Bt. Mahmut. The three-aisled hall (inscription above the doorway) has only three windows and the decorations on the facade include a sarcophagus with a relief of two women.
Karapinar (formerly Sultaniye) lies on the road to Adana, some 90km/56mi east of Konya. It has developed from an old winter settlement for the semi-nomads of central Anatolia and was also a staging post for pilgrims on their way to Mecca. In 1766 Carsten Niebuhr described the town as poorly built comprising a caravanserai, two rows of shops and a superb mosque with two minarets. 5km/3mi east of the town behind a roadside service area on the slopes leading to the Karacadag volcanic mountain range are a number of interesting phenomena deposited by Tertiary volcanic activity in the steppes. Directly behind the service area the terrain opens out into a huge steep-sided volcanic crater or caldera. The water of the Gölü crater or Aci Göl is salty (65g per liter) and lies at 35m/115ft below the normal water level.2km/1.25mi south of the service area in the middle of a number of small lava ash chimneys lies the impressive Meke Gölü (Tuzla Göl) a huge oval crater (800x500m/2,650x1,650ft) carved from black volcanic ash. Emerging from the inside of the water-filled crater is an imposing 50m/165ft black ash volcano with a 25m/80ft deep crater. The water has a high sulfur dioxide content (150g per liter).The Meke Dagi volcano 10km/7mi southwest of the Meke Gölü stands 1,265m/6,840ft above sea level. The very steep sides (250m/820ft) dominate the surrounding landscape and the crater itself is some 100m/330ft in diameter. To the west between Meke Gölü and Meke Dagi some crescent-shaped island sand dunes up to 8m/25ft high have formed in the middle of an Ice Age lake.
Meram 8km/5mi from the town center of Konya was well known to the Seljuks because of its springs and luxuriant vegetation. Wealthy Konyali had their summer residences here and the governor of the town owned a castle in the town. His poetry anthology (Divan) contains poems in praise of Meram. Here also Mevlana wrote a large part of his work "Mesnevi", stories and mystical thoughts written in verses (six volumes). The old gardens are a popular haunt for the townsfolk during the evening.
Near the village of Kizören and 75km/46mi northeast of Konya to the north of the road to Aksaray stands the old village of Obruk. Abandoned several decades ago, it has been rebuilt further north. This nondescript old village is in fact the site of a large dilapidated 13th century Seljuk caravanserai, situated near the village mosque. An extensive cemetery lies opposite the caravanserai, mosque and the few houses which remain from this once large winter village.Other traces of the previous settlement can be found in front of the cemetery and around the edge of a giant sinkhole (Obruk), which lies due east behind the caravanserai and extends some 170m/550ft into the limestone. The oval sinkhole some 200-230m/650-750ft wide is filled with water to a depth of 145m/475ft. The water from this freshwater lake which is linked to the underground karst spring of Taspinar on the edge of the Tuz Gölü 30km/19mi to the north comes from underground sources and is used for irrigation and drinking. In the middle of the plateau (Obruk Yaylasi) 25km/16mi southeast of Obruk (Kizören) and south of the village of Cukurkuyu as many as 20 giant sinkholes can be found in fairly close proximity. With a diameter of 502m/1,646ft, they range in depth from 50m/165ft to 120m/395ft; however most of them are dry.
About 20km/12.5mi northeast of Konya stands the magnificent caravanserai of Sadeddin Köpek (Zazadin Hani) which was built between 1235 and 1236. To the left on the wide southern side, alongside the imposing marble and limestone court entrance, stands the hall with a tall narrow nave, six transepts and a ruined dome. Thirteen towers secure the complex's long courtyard. A staircase leads to the mosque above the entrance. Unlike the main entrance the winter hall is decorated.
The town of Sille near Meram and the reservoir 9km/5.5mi from the town center of Konya have become the Konyans' second-favorite destination for excursions. Formerly a Greek settlement it is now a center for carpet-weaving. St Helena's, one of Sille's two Byzantine churches, is said to be the oldest church in the world but only the foundations remain. Mevlana is said to have withdrawn here to meditate. In the late Byzantine Archangelos Church, examples of works by younger, Baroque-influenced painters from the early 18th and 19th century can be found.
The salty Tuz Gölü covers an area of 1,500 sq.km and is Turkey's second largest lake. Each year it practically dries up and salt is commercially harvested here.
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