Isparta is located on the Lake District, at the junction point of Aegean, Mediterranean and Central Anatolia regions. It is the only city in the world which has the most lakes and pond within its borders. The city is known for its rich cultural properties dating back to prehistoric times, in addition to its natural beauties such as Egirdir, Kovada and Golcuk Lakes. Surrounded by large rose fields, the city is taking giant steps to become a significant tourism center for its Kovada and Kizildagi National Parks, Davraz Mountain Ski Center, canyons and caves favorable for alternative nature sports. Moreover, provincial city, Yalvac and Egirdir districts are important in terms of belief tourism.
Adorned with colorful flowers in spring, it is suggested that the city’s name was Baris or Sporda in Antiquity. It was mentioned as Saparta in Arabian Sources of XIV century. Having been settled for all ages, the Lake District named as Pisidia. The name Pisidia was first encountered at the end of 5th B.C. in historical resources. The borders of region changed at different times in history and had been settled by Pisidians who spoke their own language Pisid. In Pisidia region, Colony cities, a symbol of Rome sovereignty, were established during Emperor Augustus time. These cities are; Antiocheia (Yalvac), Kremna (Camlik), Konana (Urkutlu), Olbasa (Belenli), Parlais (Barla).
The archeological studies done in Isparta district have proved that the region has been an important site since prehistoric times. One of grottos near Senirce and Bozanonu, Kapaliin has been determined to have Upper Paleolithic (BC 35.000- 10.000)cultural features, and Baladiz and Igdecik Hills have been found out to carry cultural features of Mesolithic age(BC 10.000- 8.000). It has been considered to be an important place in Neolithic, Laccolithic and Bronze Age. Although the Pisidia land has been claimed to be Arzava region in Hittite period, it is also claimed that these lands had never been dominated thoroughly by Hittite. Nevertheless, it has never been found whether Pisidia region was dominated by Phrygia, west of Psidia, and no archeological data concerning Lydia rule. However some traces were discovered, resembling those three civilizations mentioned above. Persians dominated Anatolia from BC 547 to BC 334 and Pisidia region also began to be dominated by Persians in that period
Later, bound to Byzantine Empire, Isparta became a state according to an administrative distinction in VIII and IX centuries, and carried the features of a religious center. Anatolian Seljuks began to rule the city in 1204, conquered by Sultan Kilic Arslan the Third. Through capturing whole of the city, Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad (1219- 1237) captured the whole Antalya district and completed the conquest of the region. In early XIII century, the Turkmen people of Teke Tribe, who were settled by Seljuks in Isparta, Egridir and Yalvac districts, established Hamidogullari emirate in this area just before the collapse of Anatolian Seljuks State (1301). Then, Karamanogullari emirate got whole land of Hamidogullari. Yildirim Bayezid recaptured this land in 1390. So, dominated by Karamangullari at a short period of time, Isparta district began to be ruled by Ottomans thoroughly. And later it was changed hands between Karamanoglu and Osmanli Rules.
Completely under rule of Ottomans in 1423 and called as Hamid Sanjak in records, Isparta was an important textile (weaving) center. The adragan glue resin, obtained from the forests of the district, was a product in demand in European markets. In the late years of Ottoman Empire, Isparta became well-known for it’s attar of roses, rug business and opium poppy production.
Anatolia, where the traces of various cultures have reached today in layers since Paleolithic period, is a unique historical museum. Isparta is also one of the important cities of Anatolia historically. One of these settlements is Kapikaya Ruins and they are 5 km away from Guneyce Village. Dated to Hellenistic period, the city’s name was not identified completely. It was situated on a sloppy field and surrounded by walls on the South. A building, estimated to be a temple, an agora, a chapel and sarcophaguses are among the ones remaining today. A grotto, which can be reached by antique steps on the southwest of the city, is considered to be a sacred place. Near Golbasi Village, Incirlikaya Vaults are the graves that were made by carving out rocks under floor space.
There are a number of historical artifacts belonging to Anatolian Seljuks, Principalities and Ottoman Empire times in Isparta and its districts. Most of the mosques in the Centrum remained from Ottoman Empire period. The oldest one of these is Kutlubey (Ulu-Great) Mosque (1429). The mosque was reconstructed at the time of Sultan Abdulhamid the Second. It was completed in 1904 and when it collapsed as a result of the earthquake in 1914, the current mosque was built. Planned in rectangular shape, it has a central dome.
Kucuk Gokceli Kirik Minare Mosque; Supposed to be built in XIII century at the time of Anatolian Seljuks, the first mosque had collapsed and today a small mosque has been constructed in its place. Its minaret, made of bricks, is old and displays characteristics of Anatolian Seljuks Architecture. Built at the time of Hamidogullari emirate, Hizirbey Mosque (1325) have been restored a few times. And, Haci Abdi Mosque (Iplik Pazari Mosque) (1562-1565) is an Ottoman work.
Another mosque made in Ottoman period is Firdevs Pasha Mosque (Mimar Sinan Mosque), a work of Sinan the Architect. It was built in 1561 by Firdevs Pasha, the governor of Isparta, at the time of Sultan Suleiman the Lawful. Made of neat hewn stones, the mosque is square-shaped and has a single dome. It also has a vaulted and five-open-space last congregation place. In order to meet the Mosque’s expenses, a Covered Market was also built by Firdevs Pasha. In the style of Sinan the Architect, the building was made of neat hewn stones and has two gates from two directions.
Abdi Pasha Mosque (Kavakli Mosque- Peygamber Mosque) is a work from the late period of Ottoman Empire. Having a square-shaped plan and a wood ceiling, the Mosque was built in 1782-1783 and has been restored many times. Decorations put up by Kutahya tiles in the building and at the frontage draw attention.
In the city center, the churches have been dated to 18th and19th centuries. Aya Baniya (Aya Payana) Church is dated to 1750’s. It is a basilica with recatangular shape and three naves. Aya Ishotya (Yorgi) Church (1857- 1860) was planned like a basilica. The epitaph and bell at the entry are in Isparta Museum.
The tombs situated in diffrent parts of Isparta also completed the religious architecture of the city. Some of these are; Piriefendi Sultan (Piri Mehmet Halife) Tomb, Halife Sultan, Seyh Alaaddin Efendi (Aldan Efendi), Hace’i Sultani (Abdulkadir Geylani), Gokveli Sultan (Seyh Recep), Sitma Dedesi, Hizirabdal Sultan, Teberdar Mehmet Dede,Yavruzade (Kilici) Haci Huseyin Efendi, Tavganali Seyh Haci Mehmet Nuri Efendi Tombs. Yedi Sehitler (Seven Martyrs) Tomb, related to people who died at the time of conquest of Isparta, is also called as Veli Baba Tomb.
Turkish baths, fountains and houses in Isparta give a novel touch to historical structure of the district. Men’s Bath (New Bath) was built in 1697. In the Bath, men’s and women’s blocks are attached to each other but entrance made from different directions. The exact construction date of Bey Hamami (Bey Bath) is not known. Local houses of Isparta were generally built as double-storied but the number of these has been decreasing day by day.
Isparta city has a museum, as well. The museum is composed of four halls. Ethnography Hall was designed as Isparta room and local clothes, arms and various equipments are displayed in this part. In the Archeology Hall, the findings, obtained from excavations at Isparta province, are exhibited. Moreover, shepherd clothes, wool hoses and carpetbags, which reflect Yoruk people’s life and culture surviving today in Isparta, are displayed in the museum. In the Fourth Hall, carpets of different regions, the oldest one dating back to 17th century, are exhibited.
Isparta cuisine is fairly rich. Grape, pekmez (a thick syrup made by boiling down grape), opium poppy and its oil are indispensable ingredients of local meals. In addition to Tandir Kebab, Comlek Kebab, and Kapama, local foods such as Tirit, Banak, Kashkak, Ball Tarhana, Ogmac, and Toyga can be tasted, as well.
In Isparta, land of roses, rose growing has developed rose industry. Attar of roses and all sorts of rose products are consumed at internal market and exported worldwide. One of the most important stuff that can be bought from Isparta is rose water. The weavings of Isparta are well-known and handmade products such as wool carpets, carpet bags, leather stuff, and knives can be purchased from here.www.isparta.bel.tr
Districts of Isparta
The ancient name of Aksu, through which Aksu stream passes, is Anamas and this name was derived from Anamas Mountain near the district. The history of Aksu can be dated back to Hellenistic Age, 2nd and 1st centuries BC. Tynada, close to Terziler Village, and Senitli Plateau 15 away from Aksu are the oldest settlement areas of the district. It is significant to find Pisidia gravestones in Senitli.
Timbriada and Eurymedon Sacred Area takes place on the North of Mirahor neighborhood, at the skirts of Asar Hill. Eurymedon was a small town located near Koprucay springs. In Tymbriada town, an open-air temple dedicated to Eurymedon God, and a bridge dating to Roman period exist. Zindan (Rome) Bridge thrown across Koprucay (Eurymedon) stream, is a single-arched circular bridge made of block stones. There is a bearded bust of Eurymedon God on the keystone. Behind the temple, Zindan Cave, which had been used since Roman Period, is 760 m long and it contributes to cave tourism in Isparta.
Koprucay Canyon is also among the most significant values of Aksu district for its magnificent scenery and stream.
What made Atabey district so popular is Gazi Ertokus Madrasah. Moreover, historical structure of the district can be dated back to prehistoric times. Gondurle 1 Tumulus Graveyard near Harmanoren (Gondurle) Village is the first graveyard, found within Isparta province, belonging to Bronze Age and the findings obtained from here shed light on the culture of early Bronze Age. Seleukeia Sidera antique city takes place near Bayat Village, south of Atabey. The city was established by Syrian King Seleukos 1st (312-280 BC) or his son Antiokhos (280-261 BC). The name of the city was changed into Claudia Seleukeia by Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54 BC). In 7th BC, Hierokles attached Sidera to the city’s name in order not to be confused with other Seleukeias in Pisidia. The acropolis of the antique city was surrounded by walls, and north of it there is theatre leaning back to the slope. There is also a graveyard including tombs and mausoleums in addition to a temple, a cistern and a structure with a floor furnished with mosaics, dated to Hellenistic Age.
The oldest Ottoman artifact in the district is Atabey Sinan Mosque (Kursunlu Mosque). This single-dome mosque was built in 1591 by Sinan the Architect. And, Feyzullah Pasha Mosque was built between the years of 1645 and 1648.
Atabey Gazi Ertokus Madrasah was constructed in 1224, in Anatolian Seljuks period, by Mubarizeddin Ertokus. The stones used in construction were brought from Agrai (Atabey) and Seleukeia Sidera (Bayat) ruins. Designed as a closed madrasah, the building is composed of madrasah rooms, a tomb, and an inner court and forecourt. In the inner court, there is a dome with a lantern, which has an opening for light in the middle, and a pool just below it. Having a simple entrance, the madrasah’s stone niche, indicating Mecca, is significant. Mubarizeddin Ertokus Tomb, west of the Madrasah, has an octagonal plan. The sarcophagus in the tomb is covered with blue tiles.
The district includes many lakes, national parks and nature protection areas within its borders. The fourth largest fresh water lake of Turkey, Egirdir Lake has not been polluted yet. It is surrounded by mountains and that feature makes it very attractive. Egirdir, tourism center of Isparta, is a paradise of alternative tourism for these features. Mountain climbing, trekking, windsurfing, paragliding and camping are among the types of tourism. The features of Egirdir are not limited to those only, but also it has some historical assets waiting to be discovered. Malos ancient city was situated on a hill, near Goynucek Gedigi locale of Sariidris town, and its acropolis was enclosed by walls belonging to Hellenistic and Roman periods. One of the wall towers is still in good condition. Except for these, there exist a cave on Kaserenler Hill, 1 km away from the city, and a temple in front of it. On the east side of the hill, there is a meeting place carved in rocks. In Parlais antique city in Barla Town of Egirdir, the coins of 1st century BC were found. It is stated in the resources that the city was incorporated into Galatia state in 25 BC by the Emperor Augustus and that Roman Empire period began in the city after Marcus Aurelius.
There is not much information about the history of Prostanna antique city which was established at the skirts of Egirdir Peak in Egirdir District. It is expressed that the city serviced rather as a patrol and was established before Hellenistic period. The oldest inscription related with the city belongs to 113 BC. There are city walls at the top of the city.
Egirdir Castle is located on the peninsula extending to Lake Egirdir. The exact construction date of the castle is not known. It is composed of two parts; interior and exterior parts. The present remnants remained from Byzantine Empire; the castle had been damaged during Timur invasion and was restored at the time of Hamidogullari Emirate and Ottomans.
In Barla Town of Egridir District, there is an arched Roman bridge on Barla stream, dated to II century A.D. There are two other sharply arched hewn stone bridges thrown across Barla Stream. Both remained from Ottoman Empire time.
Egirdir Hizirbey Mosque was built beetween the years of 1327- 1328 by Hizirbey. The original mosque burned up in a fire in 1814 and instead of it the current mosque was built. It is the greatest of all mosques in Egirdir. Its minaret is on the gate of Egirdir Castle. It is an original example with that feature.
Barla Cesnigir Sinan Pasha Mosque was constructed in 1376 by Cesnigir Sinan Pasha and has been restored at different times.
Seyhul’islam Elberdai Tomb is a square-planned and domed structure in Yazla Neighborhood. Also known as Seyh Mehmet Celebi Tekke (Dervish lodge), the tomb is in Yazla Neighborhood, east side of the mosque. It is square shaped and domed.
Baba Sultan Tomb also takes place Yazla Neighborhood. With its octagon structure and conic roof, it reminds Anatolian Seljuks tombs. According to its epitaph, it was established in 1358 by Ilyas Beg.
Egirdir Dundar Beg Madrasah (Tas Medrese-Stone Madrasah); Sultan Giyaseddin Keyhusrev the Second built an inn here in 1237. The building was changed into a madrasah in 1301 by Hamidoglu Dundar Beg. The gate of this double-storied madrasah attracts attention for it’s decorations. The original madrasah place has 11 rooms, an open court and a fountain (shadirvan) in the middle part.
Egirdir Inn is located in Yeni Neighborhood and bearing date of 1237. Covering a fairly large space, both the courtyard and original place of the structure were ruined, and there are groundwork traces of a few traveler rooms in the courtyard.
Churches are among the historical assets of Egirdir, as well. One of them is Aya Stefanos (Yesilada-Green Island) Church dated to second half of 19th century. Egirdir district takes place in Yesilada. The building has three naves and was planned like a basilica. The other structure is Aya Georgias Church in Barla Town. Rectangular in shape, the building is in a destructed state.
After wandering around its historical beauties, if you would like to view Lake Egirdir and eat something, we suggest you to prefer trout, a local food, in the restaurants near the Lake. You can buy loom products in Egirdir Island which can be reached by wood boats. You may arrive at Kovada Lake National Park, 30 km South of Lake Egirdir. Surrounded by rich flora, this lake has unique scenery. It contains various wild ducks and game animals. Inonu Cave is in Sariidris Village of Egirdir and it is a part of the District’s natural beauties.
Gelendost District is located North of Isparta city. It is 10 km away from Lake Egirdir. Being a part of Pisidia settlement, its history is in parallel with other districts. The most important historical artifact in the District is Ertokus Caravanserai (Kudret Inn or Gelendost Inn). The Inn was built in 1223 by Mubaruziddin Ertokus, and takes place to east of Lake Egirdir. It is comprised of a vaulted closed place and a courtyard. There are rooms under the side arches of the courtyard, as well. Out walls were built by rough work, like a castle wall. Gelendost Afsar Bridge in Afsar Village is a work of Anatolian Seljuks and has stil been used today.
The District is 24 km away from Isparta city center. Coin striking had been made in Konana antique city, east of the district, since I. century B.C. There is not much remnants in the area of the antique city, the grave steles found out from here are in the collection of Isparta Museum. Other cultural artifacts of the district are two historical mosques in county town and the Yunus Emre Tomb, east of the district.
The District is 40 km far from the provincial center. Historical artifacts of the district are; Keciborlu Tumulus, Kilic Tumulus, Kilic Fari Ruins, Fadilli Ruins, Guneykent city remnants, Sinanbey Mosque, Senir Haci Osman Mosque and Gumusgun Sinan Dede Tomb. There are many plateaus in Keciborlu. The District is contributing to plateau tourism with its Sogutdagi, Fadilli, Koru, Tasoluk, Boyrali Sini Aydogmus Akdag Plateaus.
Senirkent is 76 km far from the provincial center. It is founded upon a plain at the skirts of a mountain, North of Lake Egirdir. The researches have put forth that Senirkent was an old settlement area. Major cultural properties in the District are: Tymandos Antique City, Yassioren, Garip, Tohumkesen, Aralik, Gencali Tumuluses and Veli Baba Tomb.
Tymandos antique city is in Yassioren town and remnants of the city did not survived today.
Sutculer is located in southern Isparta. Adada antique city displays the historical development of the district and is 90 km far from Isparta. The Antique City was situated at the frontier point between historical Pisidia and Pamphilia regions. The known date of the city can be traced back to II century B.C. and the structures of it have survived in good condition today. These are: a stone floored main road, temple remains, an agora, an acropolis enclosed with walls, a meeting place for the city governors, a basilica, a theatre, a necropolis and a mausoleum.
There is not much information about Zorzila antique settlement on Sutculer- Kasimlar road. Supposed to be established in Hellenistic period, Kocakoy Asari city was surrounded by walls. The temple and the cistern, craved in rocks, of the city attract attention. Suluklugol Ruins in Yesilyurt Village of Suluklu and Taskapi Ruins in county town exist, as well. In Sutculer District, there are Sigirlik I and Sigirlik II Castles which were built in Early Byzantine period. Sutculer Sefer Aga Mosque has been restored at different times. Candir Bridge sank deeply into the waters of Karacaoren Dam.
Yazili Canyon, combining historical and natural beauties, takes place in southwest of Sutculer. Worship places and some writings were discovered in the natural cavities or holes on the side walls, and the place has been arousing the interests of people day by day. Kuz Cave also complements the natural beauties of the District.
Annapurna antique city, south of Salur Village and west of Belcegiz Village, was established on a slope. Although its name was stated in written documents, there is not much remains, only some remnants of a theatre and a temple. Not much remained from Neapolis antique city, and the existing columns and grave steles were moved to Isparta Museum.
Zengibar Castle is situated on the mountain, east of Muratbagi (Zengibar) Village. Ordekci Castle on Sivri Mountain is in a destructed state.
Sarkikaraagac Ulu (Great) Mosque (Cami-i Kebir); built in 1282 at the time of Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, of Anatolian Seljuks. The mosque was restored in 1456. Kizildag National Park, in Sarkikaraagac, is close to Lake Beysehir. It is one of the most significant parks in our country for its rich flora and fauna, and fresh air containing a lot of oxygen.
The history of Uluborlu District can be dated back to prehistoric times, as well. It is supposed to be founded by Hittite.
Uluborlu is also well-known for its cherry and each year, Golden Cherry Festival is held for two days in the first week of July. Oil Wrestling Festival is also held at that time.
An historical artifact of the District, Uluborlu Apollonia antique city remained under county town of today. The city was established by Seleukos I (312- 280 B.C.) and ruled by different civilizations such as Lycia, Thrace Colonies, Rome and Byzantine Empires. Not much remained from the antique city. At the skirts of Kapidagi Mountain, Uluborlu Castle, which is surrounded by rocks, had been reconstructed during Byzantine period, by using old materials and later it was restored a few times during Anatolian Seljuks and Ottoman Empire periods. There are three towers on castle walls ranging between norths to south. The castle gate is great and extended.
In the old settling area of the district, Cirimbolu Bridge and an Aqueduct exist. It was used as a bridge, as well. Uluborlu Alaaddin Mosque (Ulu-Great Mosque) was built in 1231, at the time of Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat. Have been restored at different times, the mosque displays the characteristics of Anatolian Seljuks Architecture with its brick minaret and general features. Gargili Lala Madrasah (Tas-Stone Madrasah) was dated to Hamitogullari emirate. It was fairly ruined and is considered to be a closed madrasah for its courtyard.
Yalvac District takes place in Northeast of Isparta. The District has some important historical assets of Isparta with its Pisidia Antiocheia antique city and museum. Limenia Island-Artemis Temple is one of the important historical artifacts in the district. Limenia Island is on Lake Hoyran, which is away 25 km away from Yalvac. The island is enclosed by walls and there is a temple in it dedicated to Artemis, and other structural remains.
Pisidia Antiocheia was established in Anthios Valley, lying through Southern side of Sultan Mountains, 1 km north of the district. Antiocheia was the capital of Pisidia region and founded by Antiochos I (280- 261 B.C.). It was named after its founder and called as Antiocheia. The city was reestablished later as a colony by the Roman Emperor Augustus. At the beginning of 1st century A.D., Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas settled in the city to spread Christianity. From excavations carried out in the city, major part of the Rome colony was brought into light. Pisidia Antiocheia made up of two main public squares and they took place at the focal point, east of the city. Built in Hellenistic period and almost 3000 m high, the columns were restored during Rome and Byzantine Empire times. On the highest point of the city, Augustus Temple exists. There are arm and sheath relieves on the west gate, symbolizing the power of the city. The road with columns is among the most important parts of the city. The theatre was built on the side of a hill close to the center. To the South, Saint Paul Church takes place, which has a basilica plan and floored with mosaics. Constructed at Roman Empire time and regarded as the symbols of the city, the aqueducts are fairly strong.
God Men Sacred Place; Men was the moon god of Anatolia according to a belief of 3000 B.C. Antiocheia antique city was the most important center of Men culture. Established on Karakuyu Hill, 5 km east of Yalvac, there is a temple of 4th century B.C. in Men Sacred Place.
Artifacts, obtained from excavations around the district, are exhibited in Yalvac Museum. Opened in 1966, the artifacts in Yalvac Archeology Museum are displayed in three sections. These are; Prehistoric Works Hall, Classic Works Hall, Etnographic Works Hall.
Turkish-Islamic Works in Yalvac are; Yalvac Devlethan Mosque is located in the county town and its construction date and architect are not known exactly. Supposed to be built in Hamidoglu emirate period and it was made of gathered materials. Yalvac Yeni Mosque, situated in Yalvac’s center, is a work of 19th century. It is square-shaped and single domed.
Yalvac Leblebiciler Mosque was built by gathered materials itself but the minaret made of bricks.
You can purchase leather stuff from Yalvac and look around Kizildag National Park, filled with cedar trees.
Yenisarbademli district is on the west side of Lake Beysehir. The most important historical asset in the district is the ruins of Kubadabad Palace, belonging to Anatolian Seljuks period. The excavations here have still been carried out under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Ruchan Arik.
The teams had gone into the cave for 6 km at first; later in 1991 they walked for 12 km in it and then returned. So, it was discovered that it is the longest cave in Turkey and third longest cave of the world. The teams, entered the cave after this discovery, could not go further, as a result of that the length of Pinargozu Cave is not known exactly. There are natural siphons in the cave, beginning from the entrance. While the cold waters inside it are flowing in falls, they create wonderful scenes. Moreover, baked fish and barbecued fish are among the most significant delicious meals of the region. While the tourists coming here admire Pinargozu Cave and Day Use Area, they describe the region as a “heavenly place”.