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Egirdir TurkeyNorth of Antalya and south of Afyon lies Turkey's Lake District with three significantly large lakes: Lake Burdur, Lake Eğirdir,and Lake Beyşehir, along with many smaller ones. The main town in the area is Isparta famous for its rose oil, but definitely the most interesting is Egirdir at the southern shore of the astonishingly beautiful Lake Egirdir (Eğirdir Gölü), the second largest freshwater lake in Turkey.

Egirdir was originally founded by the Hittites and became a regular stop on the King's Way, an important trade route between Ephesus and Babylon, famous for its recreational and accomodation facilities. In Byzantine times the place was known as Akrotiri meaning steep mountain in Greek. Under Ottoman rule, Akrotiri became transformed to Eğridir, which means bent or crooked in Turkish. In the mid-1980's the name was changed again to Eğirdir which means she is spinning.

The most prominent historical building at Egirdir is certainly the Hızır Bey Camiii, a Seljuk construction originally built as a warehouse in 1237, but restored as a mosque by Hızır Bey, a Hamidoğullari emir. Facing the mosque is the Dündar Bey Medresesi, a theological school built by the Seljuk sultan Keykubat originally as a caravanserai in 1218. Felekeddin Dündar Bey, father of Hızır Bey, converted it into a medrese in 1285. The medrese was restored in 1979 and is now filled with shops.

The area of Isparta is famous for the culture of roses, and is one of the world's leading producer of attar of roses, a valuable oil extracted by steam distillation from rose petals and used in perfumes and cosmetics.

The town of Eğirdir stretches for several kilometres along the lake. Opposite the town center, are two tiny islands connected with each other and the mainland by a causeway. On the approach to the causeway, the massive walls of Kale, the crumbling Byzantine-Seljuk fortress with foundations from 400 BC, rise above the beach. Canada (pronounced Janada and meaning Life Island) is the name of the first and smallest of the two islands. The second island is named Yeşilada or Green Island and was until 1923 home of a Greek community living in beautiful stone and timber houses. Today the restored 12th century Byzantine church of Agios Stephanos (Ayastefanos in Turkish) is a remnant to this Greek past. The second island, Yeşilada counts many fine restaurantsMelodi Restaurant at the tip of the island is said to be the best and, to my experience, the grilled fish is definitely delicious. I did confirm this during my 2010 visit of Egirdir. Unfortunately, the crayfish (Turkish kerevit), which was a gastronomic feast, has disappeared from the menu since the population collapsed due to a lethal fungal disease, i.e. Crayfish Plague. Don't trust restaurants who advertise for Kerevit - Crayfish.

I visited Egirdir on several occasions and enjoyed the place each time. The lakeside town, especially Yeşilada, is a relaxing place to stay and a convenient base to explore the many natural and historic sites of the Egirdir region

Both in 2004 and 2010, we stayed at Otel Apostel, Atayolu No. 7 (Tel. +90 (0) 246 311 54 51 - 52, Fax +90 (0) 246 312 35 33) conveniently located in the center of town, near the bus station.

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