Top things to do in Afyonkarahisar, Turkey

by Faheem

Many tourists and locals are unaware that there are so many cool things to do in Afyonkarahisar. While the city lies at the crossroads of major regional cities, it is not considered significant for tourists and visitors and receives little acknowledgement from the travel community. Well, until now that is. Here is why Afyon is one of the most interesting and unique cities in the whole of Turkey, and the greater Anatolian region as well.

If you have never visited Turkey before, check out these 7 hidden cities to discover on your visit to Turkey.

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Where is Afyonkarahisar?

The city of Afyonkarahisar is located in the center of Western Turkey. In a sense, one could say that it is in the Midwest of Turkey. This small city has the major cities Eskisehir to its North, Izmir to the East, Antalya to the South and Kayseri to the West. Afyonkarahisar is linked to all these cities by major roads and train lines.

How to get to Afyonkarahisar

The best and quickest way to get there would be to take a car or bus from Eskisehir. It would take about 2 hour’s drive by car. Other major cities like Izmir and Antalya are considerably further away. There is also the option of taking a train there from Eskisehir or Konya. However, this is not the high-speed train.

What is Afyon Karahisar famous for?

The region of Afyon has been a significant, prosperous and much contested area for millenia. It is called Afyon, after the Poppy flower, which is processed into Opium. In fact, the name Afyonkarahisar means Poppy-black-castle. The second part of the name comes from the iconic ‘Black Castle’. The region of Afyon became extremely rich off Opium production, which became outlawed in the 1960s. Instead, the poppy plantations are now used to produce pharmaceutical morphine, which is a major industry in Afyon. 

Afyon is also popular for its farming and livestock sectors, which are highly regarded all over Turkey. It is also internationally known for its unique marble mined there, which can be found in cool places like the Hagia Sophia.

Lastly, Afyon is remembered by those who know their national history as the setting for a decisive victory for Turkish independence during the Greco-Turkish war in 1922.

The food in Afyonkarahisar

The city of Afyonkarahisar is often associated with authentic Turkish cuisine. Most notable are the sucuk (a Turkish sausage), kaymak (fresh cream), Turkish delight and lamb kebab. The first two items are especially well-known in Turkey as part of Afyon’s heritage.

Famous attractions in and around Afyonkarahisar

Afyon Grand Mosque (Ulu Cami)

Built in 1272, The Afyonkarahisar Grand Mosque is a classic example of early Seljuk Architecture. This beautiful place of worship is designed with a wooden beamed roof and is supported by 40 wooden pillars. Some say that it is also called ‘The Mosque of 40 Pillars’. It is a great monument of the early influence of Islam in Anatolia and stamps the unforgettable strong presence of the Seljuks in Western Anatolia.

Midas City

Many are unaware of the rich history of Afyon. It was a major city belonging to the ancient Phrygian Kingdom, which ruled over parts of Western Anatolia in the 8th century B.C. This remains of the city can be viewed in the vicinity of the greater Afyonkarahisar region. These old structures include palaces carved out of rock, tombs, and ancient engravings. The surrounding hills of Midas are very beautiful. One can only imagine how amazing ancient Phrygia might have been. Unfortunately, little remains of the history and language of the Phrygian people, who subsequently became assimilated completely with the dominating influences of the Greek, Roman, Persian and Turkish peoples, respectively.

Avdalaz Castle and Phrygian Valley

Another amazing Phrygian ruin is the interesting Avdalaz Castle. This structure, which is considered to be part of the Phrygian Valley, is a multi-storey dwelling carved out of a huge rock. The castle, which was made during the Phriygian period, was later used by the Roman and Byzantine rulers. Today, the structure still exists, though severely damaged by time.

The Black Castle “Karahisar”

Towering on a mountain high above Afyonkarahisar is the castle or fortress that gives the city its name, The Black Castle or Karahisar. This name, Karahisar, is the Turkish name given to the city by the Seljuk Turks when they captured the city in 1071. However, the origins of this mammoth castle go back to the Phrygian period, B.C. It is a wonder that the castle still stands today. This is the postcard picture of Afyonkarahisar, a true masterpiece.

Hot springs

The thermal sector in Afyonkarahisar is well established. The accommodation and spa options include traditional Turkish Spa hotels and international 5 star Spa Hotels. These hotels offer a variety of Hamam and Spa treatments for relaxation and healing. 

Top rated Spa hotels in Afyonkarahisar:

  • Ikbal Thermal Hotel & Spa Afyon
  • Korel Thermal Resort
  • NG Afyon Wellness & Convention

Weather in Afyonkarahisar

The weather in Afyon is more or less similar to the general conditions in Turkey. It is not as cold as the Uludag nor as hot as the Southern coast. In the summer months, May- September, the temperatures range between 21 and 29℃. In the winter, November-March,  the temperature averages just below zero. You want to make sure that you are well prepared for winter. The bonus is being able to enjoy the ‘Thermal’ hot springs during the winter.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Afyonkarahisar is well worth a visit, even if just for a day. Unfortunately, due to its remote location and immense distance from other major tourist centres, it is not as easily accessible. Thus, you won’t be able to squeeze Afyonkarahisar into your weekend Istanbul itinerary. But still, as you become a more seasoned traveler in Turkey, you might find yourself journeying to some of the less known places, and that is when you will really be able to visit and enjoy some of the less known gems like Afyonkarahisar.

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