One of the most unexplored and underrated places to visit in Turkey is the Frig Vadisi, or Phrygian Valley. The region is named for the Phrygians, an ancient people who were later assimilated into the culture of invaders and other rulers of Anatolia. You may have heard of King Midas or the Gordian Knot. Both are parts of Phrygian history.
If you like nature, history, and being in places with almost no tourists, the Phrygian Valley is for you. It’s an area of great natural beauty and history, and one could easily spend two or three full days exploring it. There are a lot of amazing things to discover. The only catch is that there’s no public transportation and a lack of tourist facilities. It’s recommended to have your own car to do the exploring and to base yourself in a nearby city like Afyon or Eskişehir.
If you have the extra time, some people enjoy hiking or biking through the valley and camping along the way. That’s something I would love to do some day. If you’re short on time and money, you can do as I did and hire a taxi from the village of Seyitgazi.
While staying in Eskişehir, I took an Afyon-bound bus and was dropped off at Seyitgazi. In the town center near the bus station, I found a taxi driver who was willing to take me to a few spots in the valley for a few hours. The original price was 140TL but after haggling and telling the driver I was Canadian, I got him down to 100TL. Yes, telling someone you are Canadian rather than American actually works!
Our first stop was Gerdekkaya, a rock-carved Phrygian tomb sitting in a field just outside the small village of Çukurca. I was able to climb a staircase into the tomb to see how the Phrygians buried their dead.
A few minutes later, we stopped at Küçük Yazılıkaya. This is a small Phrygian rock monument hidden behind some trees. It’s covered with inscriptions in Phrygian. At a quick glance, it looks like the Greek alphabet. Scholars believe the Phrygian language was related to ancient Greek.
The main attraction in the entire Phrygian Valley is at the village of Yazılıkaya, but on the way, we ran into a little Anatolian traffic jam.
Once the roads cleared up, we pulled into the village and parked at the gates of Midas Şehri (Midas City). I was the only tourist in town, so I had to wait for the taxi driver to call the gatekeeper to let me in.
The first thing I saw was the Midas Monument, the biggest of all Phrygian monuments. Archaeologists believe it was dedicated to King Midas because of the inscriptions. It also gives the village of Yazılıkaya its name. Yazılıkaya means “inscribed rock”. The monument is much bigger than it looks in the picture.
Behind the monument there’s a very scenic path that took me past a few other remnants of ancient Phrygia. Most of them are not very impressive, but the scenery is some of the most spectacular in all of Turkey.
As the path winds through the site, one of the interesting things to see is an unfinished monument. Nobody knows why it wasn’t finished, but the most likely explanation is that war had broken out. A few cisterns and homes also sit along the path.
The path is generally well marked and follows a safe route, but there are a few parts on the top of a cliff that you should take caution on.
After exploring Midas City, the taxi driver returned me to Seyitgazi, picking up a few elderly hitchhikers along the way. Yes, it was expensive for a solo traveler, but I think it was definitely worth the 100TL for a private tour. However, it was just a small taste of what the Phrygian Valley has to offer. I’d be happy to return and see much more.