Turkey: Afyonkarahisar

Afyonkarahisar is a spectacular city in western Turkey, which is mentioned as far back as the 2nd century BC. It was in the hands of Alexander the Great and the Romans, and the Byzantine Empire. The center of the town is a massive rock rising 201m like a volcanic plug from the ground (almost like the Devils Tower in The USA), it’s visible almost from every possible direction in town. The top of the rock has been fortified for millennia and was called the black fortress or “karahisar”. The castle was fiercely fought over during the crusades and ottoman wars. And supposedly, the fortress was where the Seljuk sultans kept their treasurers, away from wandering eyes. The other part of the town’s name – Afyon – means opium in translation, because a huge amount of opium has been grown (to this day) in its vicinity. Besides the castle and the rock, there is also an awesome old mosque – Ulu Camii – built in 1272 and with its 40 original wooden columns presenting a fantastic example of the Anatolian wooden mosque architecture. The town is an absolute must-see!