“Seek and find” were the first words that I came across when visiting the town of Haci Bektas last week. They were listed on a sign that also said “The feature of man lies in the beauty of his word”
I thought it is a perfect way to sum up any traveler or blogger, but I wondered why the words were written in English because looking around Haci Bektas, it become obvious that there were no other foreigner visitors. No Japanese, Americans, Australians or Brits. There were no big coaches or organized tours that are so often seen in other areas of the Cappadocia.
I was off the beaten track and about to explore the culture centre and museum that is dedicated to a branch of the Islam religion. Whilst I am not religious, I do like to find out and explore other people’s religions. Haci Bektas is the centre of the Alevi religion and the town was named after one of its philosophers. Alevi has an estimated 15 million followers in Turkey.
It is quite obvious that the community of Haci Bektas town wants foreigners to come here. Signs around the museum are written in English and Turkish. However I cannot find one tour company in Cappadocia offering day trips to Haci Bektas.
You don’t have to be religious to enjoy Haci Bektas so if you do want to go, I recommend hiring a car or asking for a private guided tour. It took us 45 minutes to get there from Goreme. Entrance to the park was just 1TL and entrance to the museum was 3TL. There is also the rest of the town to explore.
Apparently I had come at the wrong time of the year. If I had come in August then I would have seen three days featuring whirling dervishes and celebrations for the Alevi religion which for many years, had to be kept secret due to persecution of its followers.
In the park, the main feature is a huge rock that is said to cleanse you of all your impurities. I watched numerous people go in one end and try to climb out through a small hole in the side. At one stage I thought we needed to call the fire brigade for grandma who was having difficulty getting out.
Give yourself plenty of time in the Haci Bektas museum as they shut for lunch time at 12.30 noon. The museum is the old lodgings of the whirling dervishes, pieces from that era are in the museum and it is easy to get a feel for how they lived. It is also said that Haci Bektas spent 40 days and nights at this lodge praying according to the Alevi Religion.
If you are in Cappadocia at any time, I strongly recommend getting off the beaten track and visiting Haci Bektas. My opinion is that it was one of the best highlights of my trip so far. My blog is about travel and not religion so that is what I have focused on however if you want to know more about the religion of Alevi or the philosopher called Haci Bektas, here is some further reading.