Nallıhan district, 160 km. from Ankara, was on the historical Silk Road. Like other Ankara districts on the Silk Road, as if it is a hidden city that you will be amazed by the deep traces of the city culture in its people and social life.

A day trip route where you can wander amongst silk needle laces, stone and wooden houses with oriel balconies, bird paradise, Tabduk Emre Tomb, centuries-old juniper trees, necropolis of the lost ancient city Juliopolis, and you can take a boat tour on the lake and rest your soul in close proximity of Ankara.

When you set off from Ankara in the morning, you can reach at Nallıhan in an hour and a half and have your breakfast among the magnificent trees on the bank of the reservoir, by cleansing your soul. Then a day awaits you, which you will be surprised to see and hardly believe in your eyes.

The journey to the ancient city of Juliopolis begins in Çayırhan Town, at which boats and local guides are waiting for you by the lake.

Ancient sources mention that the city of Juliopolis was founded as a village called Gordiokome during the Phrygian period. During the reign of Augustus (27-14 BC), a rich and indigenous bandit leader named Kleon changed the name of this village to Juliopolis by referring to the famous Julius Caesar. Its status was also changed into a city.

The name “Juliopolis” was widely seen in the literary works of antiquity. Plinius (61-112 AD) mentioned Juliopolis as “a border town where there is a lot of traffic” in the letters he wrote when he was the Roman Governor of Bithynia (103 AD).

Between the 4th and 9th centuries AD, Juliopolis was an important Christian city. The names of the church pastors of the city, which is the center of the Byzantine Diocese, were regularly seen in the Sinod Assembly (Spiritual Assembly) records in Constantinople.

During this period, the name of the city was once again changed as Basileon, referring to Emperor Basileos I (867-886 AD). It is believed that the city’s name is thereafter no longer mentioned in ancient sources and it turned out to be a village without leaving any further traces on history.

Almost whole of this hidden city, which was once an important religious and commercial center, is now under the reservoir.


In 2009, with the rescue excavations initiated by the Anatolian Civilizations Museum, the Roman Period Necropolis (Cemetery) was unearthed. The coins found in the mouths of the dead (taken as bribes to the other world) were printed in Juliopolis. In addition, many jewelry pieces were found, which are now on display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Our guide said that the original designs of these jewelry inspire many designers today and these designs are very popular abroad either.

The view you see when you get back on the boats and watch the colorful reflection of the mineral layers in the water is incredible enough to take you away from the feeling of reality, even if it is for a short time.

Bird Paradise

Another surprise in Nallıhan is the bird paradise, which is the second largest one in Turkey after Manyas.

This bird paradise, located on the migration route from Istanbul and Çanakkale, hosted many endangered birds. If the season you visit the area does not correspond to the migration season, you cannot see many birds; but you can still see the introductions on birds at the lake-side facility while sitting and sipping your tea.

Tabduk Emre Tomb

Tabduk Emre, who is thought to have lived in the 13th century, is one of the Alperens (Combatants) sent by Ahmet Yesevi, Yunus Emre’s teacher, from Horasan to Anatolia. This sect that Yunus Emre is believed to have carried wood for 40 years and even a rough wood is not let invites you to its peaceful chamber and garden.

Juniper Trees

The grove consisting of juniper trees serving as the walking and picnic area in Nallıhan is right next to the road.

Here I also learned the relationship between juniper tree and juniper. The seeds of juniper tree, which are the fruits of the tree, do not grow when directly planted in the ground. As a result of the juniper eating these fruits, the seeds germinate in the intestines of the bird and the manure is left on the ground. Only then the fruits begin to grow. When I learned this interesting cycle of nature, every bird and tree around me made more sense.

During the day trip to Nallıhan, do not return without eating stuffed leaves, covered pilaf, hoşmerim and baklava. You will not forget the taste of pilaf.

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