For thousands of years Turkey has been at the heart of ancient trade routes linking China and Europe that have brought silk, exotic spices, new cultures and ideas through Turkey – to the west and beyond. Trade on the Silk Road played a significant role in the development of civilisations, opening long distance political and economic relations between them. Today these routes still exist, on a larger scale and are carrying more than silk, spices and new ideas.
In this one-hour film, presenter Holly Morris discovers who uses this famous Silk Road today, and how Turkey’s history has shaped and impacted what remains. Travelling over 1000 miles from Ankara to Mt Ararat in the east, Holly uncovers the products and goods that are brought along the Silk Road routes, and the trucks and truckers that carry them.
Beginning in Turkey’s capital city of Ankara, Holly visits some of it’s main sites and monuments: the Kocatepe Mosque, Ankara Castle, Ulus Square and a traditional food market. Holly reveals a little about the thousands of conquering armies who over ran Turkey for centuries, and how Ankara became the capital city of the country when Ataturk formed the modern republic it is today.
Leaving Ankara and heading south towards Aksaray, Holly jumps on board her first truck of the journey. She meets Murat, a Turkish trucker working for a cross continental logistic company who is taking goods towards Iraq. Setting off from Turkey’s largest logistic centre in Ankara, Murat and Holly begin their journey to Aksaray stopping off at the beautiful Lake Tuz to stretch their legs.
Arriving in Aksaray Holly visits Sultan Hani Caravanserai, an ancient ‘hotel’ used by silk road travellers from the 13th century. These caravanserai’s were dotted all along this famous route and were used to encourage trade and provide safe and sociable housing for its traders. Holly is met by Remzi, a local expert, who shows her around.
From Aksaray Holly travels east towards Goreme, a small tourist town in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, famous for its incredible rock formations and caves. Holly wakes up in a cave room in one of the town’s hotels and spends the day exploring the region and meeting a local cave dweller on a 4×4 jeep safari led by a local guide, Adnan.
From one Hittite city to the next, Holly heads north to visit the ancient capital city of Hattusha. The Hittite empire ruled for over 500 years, and were one of Turkey’s strongest armies. At Hattusha, Holly visits the ruins that are left at the site and meets members of an archaeological team who are excavating, and she arrives just in time to see a discovery!
Hitching a ride on another truck from Hattusha she travels further east to Amasya, the town famous for its succulent apples. Holly meets a local apple trader in the town who exports his apples all over Turkey. He takes her to his orchard where she helps pick them fresh from the tree, and then loads them into the truck. Holly begins her next journey with another truck driver.
A short stop in the city of Sivas to stock up on Turkish road-trip snacks, Holly jumps on board a bus to the mountain town of Bayburt. The Bayburt region is known for it’s rough, and winding mountain roads which link the mainland to the Black Sea and she has arrived in the hope of visiting ‘the most dangerous road in the world’ with its 13 hair pin bends!
Leaving Bayburt, and to another mountain town, Holly visits Erzurum, a town famous for its black Oltu stone jewellery. She meets a local jeweller, enjoys a relaxing tea in a down town cafe and then hops on board the Dogu Express train from Erzurum further east to the town of Kars.
In Kars, Holly visits the medieval ruined city of Ani, a place only recently opened to the public after years of deadly tensions between the Muslim Turks and the Christian Armenians. Founded more than 1600 years ago, Ani was perfectly situated to link many towns on the Silk Road route so became a great metropolis with once over 100,000 residents. Holly meets a local expert and guide Memet, who takes her around the ghost town that remains today.
Leaving Ani and heading south, Holly stops off in the town of Igdir to meet a local Kurdish family who invite her to join them for lunch and learn how to cook some traditional cuisine. She then heads further south to the final town on her journey – Dogubeyazit. A frontier town on the Iranian border it is full of trucks and truckers heading along the Silk Road with their goods. Holly visits the Ottoman Ishak Pasha Palace before meeting her final trucker of the episode, Nevruz. She joins him and his friends for breakfast before he takes Holly as close as she can get to the Iranian border, where she bids him farewell. Holly finishes her journey here, with Mt Ararat behind her, towering over the ‘Silk Road’ that is alive and well today!
with special thanks to
with thanks to
GO TURKEY TOURISM
CARAVANSERAI CAVE HOTEL
HATTUSHA & THE GERMAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHAEOLOGY
ISHAK PASHA PALACE
post production coordinator