The Evliya Çelebi Project is an international project of historical re-enactment and cultural re-connection that has established a UNESCO approved Cultural Route in Western Anatolia and plans more. In honor of the 400th Anniversary of the Birth of Evliya Çelebi (1611-c.1685), UNESCO Man of the Year 2011, Turkey’s First Long-Distance Walking and Riding Route, The Evliya Celebi Way, is now open.
The Evliya Çelebi Way is primarily an equestrian route designed to generate interest in Turkey’s vanishing horse culture, thereby reconnecting Turkish people today with their heritage. It is a route with a guidebook winding its way through open countryside amidst the burgeoning population centres of western Turkey. Combining the romance of horseback travel in remote but stunning landscapes with rediscovery of Turkey’s historical past, it should appeal to all who are concerned to preserve Turkey’s heritage through sustainable tourism. It is an invitation both to local people to escape the town and gain a wider appreciation of the region in which they live, and also to visitors from further afield. It passes through countryside that seems familiar, yet is visited only by the few who choose to venture away from the main thoroughfares. The EÇW offers access to magnificent landscapes of towering mountains, rich agricultural valleys and hillsides, forests, marshes and little-known villages. These are ideal conditions for short or long treks, on horseback or on foot.
The Evliya Çelebi Way has two connected goals:
- To Re-Enact This project celebrates the life and work of Evliya Çelebi, one of Ottoman Turkey’s greatest writers, travellers and historians of everyday life. By following his hoofprints, we can discover what there is that can only be known by re-enactment. What do things look like from horseback? How do physical and logistical conditions of travelling in this way enable active engagement with local communities?
- To Re-Connect The other central goal of this project is to re-connect Turkey today with its illustrious history of Equestrian Traditions. The Ottoman cavalry was world renowned. Early modern European travellers report their admiration for Ottoman horsemanship. Today horsebreeding and equestrian sports continue to thrive in remote rural areas. By furthering understanding of these equestrian knowledges and practices, this project celebrates an important but little known legacy of Turkish history.