Turkey's Cultural Routes Society
Following the gradual success of the Lycian Way and then other routes, in 2012 several enthusiastic routemakers decided to band together and form a society. Now the Culture Routes Society represents Turkey’s 16 routes with the Tourism Ministry, in the forums of the Council of Europe and in the World Trails Conference.
During the last year, several routes, which were work-in-progress when we
formed the society, have ‘gone live’. They are:
Phrygian Way – 600km walking route in the area of the Phrygian civilization near Ankara, Turkey.
Carian Way – 800km walking route around the area of the Carian civilization, SW Turkey.
St Nicholas Ways – group of daywalks around Myra in S Turkey, associated with the Lycian Way.
Ağrı Dağı Project – climbs on the peaks of eastern Turkey.
A project for routes around Kayseri will shortly go live.
The next step is to go international – to either link one of the routes to the existing European international network or to extend one of the existing routes across international borders. There are two possible projects:
The Society presented to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Council a proposal to extend the existing Evliya Çelebi Way to various Black Sea countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, etc. The route will be based on Evliya’s travels but will also emphasize horse travel and horse sports.
The Society wants to find partner organizations in other countries visited by St Paul (Malta, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Israel, Macedonia), in order to extend the existing St Paul Trail to other countries.
The Society has about 60 members, most of whom are either working on routes, guides, travel agencies specializing in sustainable tourism or pension owners. There are also Turkish and foreign members who are interested in trekking the routes. Each year, the Society organizes at least one volunteer group to work on trail maintenance.
The manager, Hüseyin, and chairman, Kate Clow, work from a drop-in office in Antalya, where people can get information on the routes, buy guidebooks and maps, or just chat about their plans. A team are also working on iphone apps for some of the routes; see the apps store for our releases. Next spring, they will add a coffee-shop and sales point for trail foods, t-shirts and equipment.
The Society is supported financially from book and map sales and receives assistance from some tourism operators; it has received one local development grant and applied for others.
To sum up, our three aims are:
Preserving old roads, and registering them as cultural monuments.
Helping villagers along the routes benefit from sustainable tourism.
Supporting and marketing our existing Culture Routes.
At the Culture Routes in Turkey website, you can find a free downloadable map of the routes like this one (but larger):