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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Old Kaş

Water-logged Front Yard

Tracing Your Talisman in Kaş

Kaş is one of those towns that is made for relaxing. In itself there are no spectacular sights but it is surrounded by plenty of outdoor delights. We couldn't have picked a better vacation from the vacation. 

Old Kaş


Spicy View
It was another sunny and warm day as we walked towards the old part of Kaş.  We visited a spice shop and saw men playing backgammon.  The restaurant-filled main square has verdant green mountains as a backdrop and a crystal-clear turquoise harbour as its front yard above.  Some hikers, who just finished their trek on the Lycian Way, were relaxing on a bench and enjoying the harbour view. 

Greco-Turkish Separation

Tracing Your Roots
Many of the buildings are white-washed stucco that have a Greek village look.  This is no fluke since most of the population was of Greek ethnicity up until the "separation" in 1923 
Following the Fall of Constantinople (Byzantine Empire) to the Ottoman Empire in 1453, most of Greece came under Ottoman rule.  After a war of independence, Greece became an independent nation in 1832.  During World War I, the western Allies and especially Britain, had promised Greece territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire because they had supported the wrong side, the Germans. The Greeks had seized large parts off the coast.
The Turkish National Movement, led by Mustafa Kemel Ataturk, arose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.  The Greco-Turkish War continued until the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne recognized the independence of the Republic of Turkey and its sovereignty over Asia Minor, Istanbul and Eastern Thrace.  Ataturk became the first president.  The Greek and Turkish governments agreed to a population exchange.   At that point most of the Greek residents left for Greece. 

Ottoman Kaş

Ottoman Kaş

Old Kaş is really a very small area to the east of the main square.  One pedestrian-only street, in particular, is lined with Ottoman-style buildings with wooden balconies and windows overhanging the cobblestone road.   

Way before being a Greek city, this was an old Lycian town and there are some Lycian Tombs right on the streets of the old city, especially the King's Tomb (4th century BC) at the top of this street. I think it is named Doğru Yol Sokak.  

Is one Evil Eye talisman not enough?

 Evil Eye Talisman (Nazar) 

Suddenly we see a white-walled house with a dark blue door with evil eye symbols in the doorway. Then we see they also put them in the street.  The evil eye trinkets are so popular with tourists you will see them for sale everywhere.  My sister, who visited Turkey a year ago, even asked me to bring back some more for her.  So where does this symbol come from? 
No Digging for Blue Eyes!
This is even a more ancient custom than Saturnalia-ChristmasIt appears in the Old Testament and originated in the early days of Jewish, Arabic and Persian cultures when people believed that someone could cast a malevolent look and cause you, or especially your children, bodily harm.  From these areas, nazar spread to Turkey, Europe, and India.  So when you buy one of these you are getting a talisman to ward off the evil eye, to protect you from jealous or envious people.
Old Kaş
So why is the eye green or, in Turkey, mainly blue?  Light coloured eyes are rare in the Middle East. And blue-eyed Northerners are more likely to transgress local customs against staring or praising the beauty of children. 
Ataturk's Square
A few people we met gave us a talisman, which was more special than buying one.  I hung one of them on the rear view mirror of our car.  It seemed like an appropriate place needing protection.  To "give one an evil eye" is a common expression in English with the same origin. 

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