Finally planning that trip to the charming Turkish town of Fethiye? Fethiye is a well known stop on the tourist track, offering visitors a stellar coastline for summer bathing and great historical treasures including ruins of the ancient Hellenistic city of Telmessos. Most visitors to Fethiye, however, don’t realise that much of the enchantment of the city can be found in some of the towns outlying villages. The Fethiye district actually includes seventy-one small villages, including Kargi Village which hosts one of Fethiye’s greatest hidden treasures. It is home to the only museum of nomadic culture in Turkey, in addition to offering a great taste of fresh Turkish cuisine. Local Enver Yalcin realised the importance of the historical nomadic tribes of his region and decided not to let their rich culture go unnoticed. He developed the first museum of nomads in Turkey, with particular homage to the Yoruk nomads of his native Fethiye area. You won’t want to miss this important cultural time capsule if you are in the Fethiye region.
The Development of the Nomadic Museum
Yalcin’s project rose out of his appreciation for the unique history of his area and his interest in the budding tourism sector that was strengthening every day. He eventually opened a restaurant and hotel, the restaurant which is known by many as offering some of the best local fare and (especially) breakfasts for miles around. Yalcin’s success led him to dedicate a space solely to display the many treasures and artifacts he and his peers had found in the area. Before, many of these items decorated the restaurant itself. Now, Yalcin has created an impressive collection of over 2,500 artifacts from the nomadic tribes that pass through southern Turkey. Evenmore, the Nomadic Museum is one of the only free museums in Turkey thanks to Yalcin’s prioritisation of the sharing of knowledge over monetary gains. More and more visitors are coming every year, with Yalcin and his team aiming to reach at least 100,000 visitors.
A Museum of Turkish Nomadism, Dedicated to the Yoruks
The Turkish refer to nomadic peoples living around Antalya and Fethiye in the Taurus mountains as Yoruks, literally translating to something akin to “infinitely walking”. Yoruk people have populated the Anatolian peninsula for centuries, but have recently come under heavy pressures from urbanisation and modernisation, resulting in their numbers dropping significantly. Some still reside in the mountains of the highlands, raising livestock and maintaining many of their traditions. Those who have Yoruk ancestry but no longer live a nomadic lifestyle often keep up the rich traditions of their forefathers and foremothers through folklore, art, and cuisine. Most of the artifacts at the Nomadic Museum are from the period before the Yoruks began using modern technology. The Yoruks were known for unique agricultural tools and superior rug-making techniques, skills of which are well displayed at Turkey’s only museum covering the topic.
Imagine Life as a Yoruk with a Day at the Nomadic Museum
A great day trip within the Fethiye region begins with a trek to the Kargi Village. Once there, relax with a full breakfast like none you have had before at Yalcin’s place. When ready, wander over to the Nomadic Museum to really get a feel of the village. Imagine what it was like for people to live their whole lives nomadically, using the tools you see laid in front of you. Don’t forget to appreciate their incredible artistic skills with their unique rugs as well. Grab a good (and affordable) sleep in one of the village’s many bed and breakfasts, and call it one beautifully successful day.
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