So. Blog 2. How bloggie am I?
Anyway, the Iron Gate.
In these parts it’s called Demirkapi and it’s a jolly good thing that I knew that.
After escaping from the towering inferno that was Mount Silpius, I thought that I’d at least try to head over to the Iron Gate. I had no real idea of what the route to it would be like, and Google Earth wasn’t much help due to the deep deep shadows and weird distortions on this view. Still, nothing ventured…
The Iron Gate may have functioned as one of the city gates of Antioch, but it was also, and perhaps more importantly, a flood defence installation built into the city wall where it crosses the Hacikürüsh River, which runs, sometimes rages, into the Orontes. Possibly built in the time of the Emperor Justinian, although perhaps not first built, but improved at this period.
Basically I just walked along the dusty river bank, past numerous small houses, until I found myself bumbling in on a family’s tea (lunch? It was about midday, and it was as hot as hell so having tea was really the only sensible thing to be doing).
Anyway (all of us using the international language of pointing and saying one word), I asked if this was the way to Demirkapi, and they said yes, and then invited me to stay for tea. It seemed rude not to, so I did.
Here they are.
The father’s name is Kaydet and I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t get all the other names. They’re Kurdish and I think that Kaydet is a shepherd, although I could have got that completely wrong. He keeps pigeons, which he clearly adores, and they have at least one pet rabbit.
Three cups of tea, a bag of sweets that I’d brought and a visit from a neighbour later, Kaydet said that he and one of his sons would show me the way to Demirkapi.
Best guided tour EVER.
We continued along the path, leaving the houses behind. This path passes a number of caves, some used for storage, and it is rather precarious in places. Kaydet not only acted as guide,but also ensured that I didn’t slip or fall down any holes on the way.
A short way from his house, we pass a fragment of an old (medieval?) bridge over the river.
Then, a short way on again, my first glimpse of Demirkapi.
The scale in this picture is deceptive. The drop into the river bed is around 50ft, and the path runs along the base of the cliffs on the left of the picture and then down hill slightly to the gate.
Once we’d reached the gate, we had a good look around, and Kaydet let me take a couple of pictures of him and his son.
We then walked over the gate, along the ledge, to have a closer look. Kaydet was again very careful to hold onto my arm and make sure that I didn’t go bumbling over the edge and into the ravine below. I’m not great with heights, so this was very welcome.
From this shot you can see that some of the building blocks have been reused, as they have a simple decorative elements on them.
Kaydet also pointed out an inscribed stone built into the gate. I don’t know whether this is a reused piece that happened to have an inscription on it, or if the inscription was done when the stone was in place. The latter, I suspect.
The views up to the citadel are fantastic from here, but the cliffs are very steep.
Just for an adventure, we walked back along the ledge over the ravine (again, Kaydet helped me across). You can see the scale of the gate from Kaydet’s son sitting in one of the doorways.
We walked back to Kaydet’s house and after a quick wash and freshen up I said goodbye to my excellent hosts 🙂 .