St Paul Trail
Turkey’s second long-distance trekking route
St Paul was responsible for the spread of Christianity to Western Europe. Jesus’ message, aimed at amending the Jewish religion, was preached exclusively to the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem. But Paul took this message to both the Jewish diaspora (those living outside Israel) and also to the worshippers of the traditional gods of the Greeks or Roman Empire, or of other cults. In the process he changed the religion of Christianity, partly by adding many instructions about forms of worship, partly by changing the message (especially regarding women). Paul had no standard text; he also had never met Jesus personally. Thus he was able to interpret Jesus’ message quite freely. If St Paul had not preached, Christianity would probably have died out when the Jewish rebellion of 66 AD was crushed and Jerusalem burned.
Thus Paul was both a product of his time and a major influence on our time.
The St Paul Trail
The St Paul Trail is a 500km 27-day way-marked footpath from Perge, 10 km E of Antalya, to Yalvac, NE of Lake Egirdir. There is a second branch starting at Beşkonak, the entrance to the Köprülü Kanyon National Park 80km NE of Antalya and joining the first route at the Roman site of Adada. The trail is over Roman roads, footpaths and forest tracks; suitable in places for mountain bikes. It’s a wilder route than the Lycian Way, starting at sea level and climbing up to 2200m, with two optional peaks at around 2800m. Kate Clow opened this route in 2008, to bring tourism into rural Turkey and offer walkers insight into the countryside that Paul traveled through on his first journey through Asia Minor.
The start point at Perge, is close to Antalya airport and the end at Yalvaç, near Lake Eğirdir. Eğirdir is a major transport and accommodation hub on the route. Trekking is best in spring and autumn – July-August is hot. Many nights you can find accommodation in village houses or small pensions, but on longer sections you will have to camp – there are plenty of good places.