Evliya Çelebi (1611-?1685)
Follow an Ottoman Pilgrim’s Way on Foot, by Bike or on Horseback

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Evliya Çelebi was an Ottoman Turkish gentleman adventurer who travelled far and wide for over 40 years. Born in Istanbul, he made many journeys across the sultan’s domains to the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and the Middle East, and far beyond—to the Habsburg emperor’s seat at Vienna, towards the headwaters of the Nile, and to the Caucasus and Iran. Often he travelled on official business, but also for pleasure. His observations on everyday life in the 17th century are a unique record of his times. Among his many accomplishments, Evliya was a scholar, raconteur, dervish, musican, and linguist. He dubbed himself ‘World Traveller and Boon Companion to Mankind’ and wore a ring inscribed ‘The World Traveller Evliya’. He aimed to describe everything he saw on his journeys, and left a record of his wanderings in 10 large volumes, the Seyahatname, or Book of Travels.

Evliya Çelebi Way

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The Evliya Çelebi Way is a must-do trail for walkers and bikers, and Turkey’s first route for horseriders. It mixes history and nature, adventure and relaxation. A few days on the Way can enjoyably be combined with sightseeing in the towns and cities Evliya visited.

The Way opened on the quatercentenary of Evliya’s birth, when UNESCO declared 2011 a year of celebration of his life and work. It follows the early stages of his journey to Mecca in 1671, when he at last found the opportunity to undertake the pilgrimage.

The first phase in establishing the Evliya Çelebi Way was an exploratory 6-week horseback ride in 2009, that re-enacted Evliya’s meandering journey from the İzmit Gulf to the town of Simav—inland from the Aegean city of İzmir—as described in his detailed travelogue. Evliya himself continued to İzmir, and south then east around the Anatolian coast towards his goal. In summer 2010 we made hiking expeditions to define the walking and biking route.

The Evliya Çelebi Way crosses some of the most spectacular and varied landscapes in Turkey, visiting villages far off the beaten track, as well as passing through, or close to, towns and cities of great historical importance in this region where the Ottoman Empire was born. It follows rivers and goat paths, tractor- and forestry tracks, and Roman and Ottoman paved roads. The terrain is rarely difficult. The riding route is around 650km long, and takes about 25 days to complete, plus rest/sightseeing days; the walking route omits some flat sections, and is about 330km long, taking about 22 days to complete, plus rest/sightseeing days.

For one woman’s inspiring account of her travels on the Way, take a look at Candace Rose Rardon’s blogs of her adventures.

And view this short film of walkers on the Way.