The city of Isparta, Turkey, is known as the city of roses. For long has been the world’s largest producer of rose oil for use in making perfumes.
The city streets are lined with rose bushes and rose gardens. Everywhere you look, you are bound to see a rose.
We had the honor of spending the day with the Mayor, Yusuf Ziya Günaydın.
Our first stop was a rose field. Row after row of rose bushes were being picked by three very kind ladies. They pick the roses, throw them in their basket and turn them in at the end of the day for them to be processed and rose oil to be extracted.
Our second stop was the Prof. Dr. Turan Yazgan Etnografya Müzesi. It is a museum for the two main industries of Isparta, rose oil and carpet making. It is said that in the early 20th century, every home in Isparta had the equipment to make rugs. It was the largest producer of handmade rugs in Turkey for many years. The museum displays hundreds of rugs from different periods. Its oldest dating back to the 1800s. The museum features an 11-story tower with 360 degree views of Isparta. If you get a chance, the views from the top floor are worth the visit.
Our third stop was a wood shop. The city owned facility produces thousands of handmade wood products every year. From 20 foot doors to small wood bowls, they will get it done. The factory has quadrupled in size in just two years.
Our final stop in Isparta was for lunch with the Mayor and a surprise visit from the President of Suleyman Demirel University, Hasan Ibicioglu. The restaurant featured a beautiful open terrace with breathtaking views of the city of Isparta. This family restaurant served us numerous delicious Turkish dishes so that we could sample different items.
After an hour-long flight to Istanbul and made our way to the Bosphorus, near the New Mosque and the Spice Bazaar, to take a Bosphorus Cruise.
As we floated along, we were able to see the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the New Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and many of the sites we had visited.
We were also able to see some we had not been able to visit during our trip, such as:
The Maiden’s Tower (a lighthouse that sits on the spot where lighthouses and guard towers have stood since the year 1110)
The Dolmabahçe Palace (the 19th century Palace where the Sultans moved after leaving the Topkapi Palace)
And the Ortaköy Mosque (a 19th century Mosque that sits on the edge of the Bosphorus and is one of the most popular places on the Bosphorus).
We ended our trip visiting Karaköy Güllüoğlu, a shop that features, what locals call, the best Baklava in Turkey. I must say, they were not wrong! They were able to pack some for my journey home.
The shop was packed with locals and tourists alike having Baklava, Turkish Delights and, of course, Turkish Tea.
That concludes our trip to Turkey, where will we go next?