Adana, a ‘hidden’ gem in southern Turkey
November 18 2017 09:55 PM
HANDS-ON: Social media influencers Hani al-Mousawi, right, and Jassim al-Ali, second from right, take part in a kebab-making and cooking workshop at Onba??lar Kebap restaurant in Adana. Photo by Joey Aguilar

The Adana-Mersin Metropolitan area may seem unfamiliar to many foreign tourists, but this little-known Turkish destination is brimming with breathtaking sceneries, pristine beaches and rich cultural heritage.
Nestled in the heart of Çukurova, a geo-cultural region (Cilicia in ancient times) in south-Central Turkey, the place is preparing to welcome an increasing number of foreign visitors from various parts of the world, especially those coming from Qatar.
The recently-inaugurated Qatar Airways non-stop flight to Adana is expected to boost Adana’s tourism, flying travellers from Doha three times weekly every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

PLACE OF WORSHIP: The Oil Mosque, a popular religious structure in Adana, where both Muslims and Christians can pray. Photos by J R Dumlao

Adana now becomes the five-star airline’s fourth destination to Turkey, apart from Ataturk International Airport and Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul and one in Ankara.
Turkey’s fifth largest city with a population of 1.7mn has a rich history dating back 4,000 years. Its museum displays 43,500 artefacts from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze, Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods. 
Today, Adana offers a wide range of “exciting adventures” such as hiking on some of the rugged landscapes of Kapikaya Canyon and sightseeing at the historic Varda bridge. It was also named James Bond bridge after some scenes of the 2012 movie Skyfall were filmed in the area.

RUGGED: Rugged landscape starts from the entrance of the Kapikaya Canyon

A media familiarisation trip as part of the inaugural Qatar Airways flight to Adana provided journalists and social media influencers from Qatar, Kuwait, China, and Australia an opportunity to experience, as well as understand, its natural beauty and rich history.
The Kapikaya Canyon, which is nearly an hour drive from the city proper, offers visitors a nature-walk and in some points along the trail a place to hang out for picnics. 
The fascinating mountain views, rock formations and a river running throughout the over 7km path paint a craggy stretch – a place many photographers are looking for.  

‘NOT YET’: The Varda bridge, also known as German bridge and James Bond Bridge, has become a popular tourist destination after some scenes of Skyfall movie were filmed in the area.

We stopped at some point along the way but many previous visitors say that finishing the full trail “awarded” trekkers a treat of tea and snacks at Yerköprü bridge, a place for respite overlooking a small water falls. 
The temperatures in November, between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius, maybe a more suitable time to visit the place, but the summer gives visitors a good reason to try the waters for a splash along the way.
Our journey from Pergola to the Suspension bridge, which I estimate is less than four kilometre, was enough to leave a lasting memory we can all cherish and share with others.
Our next stop is at Varda (means ‘not yet’) bridge, also called German bridge since it was built by the Germans who wanted to connect Berlin with Basra (as part of an Ottoman-German railway project) to transport oil from Iraq, according to our tour guide Gulcan Akdogan, who was joined by her colleague Mustafa ??ler. It is 98 metres high and 172 metres long.
The construction of the bridge, located in the village of Hac?k?r?, started in 1903 and was finished in 1905. It is one of the symbols of World War I. 
A highly-recommended restaurant for lunch is located at the Yerköprü Recreation Area, which serves authentic and delicious Turkish kebab with salad and bread.
Tea is a must and often served any restaurant or eatery in Turkey but I prefer a cup of Turkish coffee, a more suitable and healthy alternative after a full meal.
From Yerköprü, we then headed back to Adana to see Büyüksaat, known as the ‘Great Clock Tower’, before visiting the Ramazano?lu Mansion and the Kazanc?lar Bazaar, where an array of handmade Turkish products and souvenirs abound.

TREK: Visitors trek the 7km stretch of the Kapikaya Canyon. (L)

CAVE-LIKE: Unique scenery around Varda bridge. (R)

The attractive textures and colours of Turkish delights sold at several stores in the area makes it hard for visitors to leave without taking at least a few boxes as presents for friends and peers back home.
Our final stop for the first day before returning to Sheraton Grand Adana is at Ta?köprü or the Stone Bridge, one of the oldest in the world measuring 319metre long and 13metre high. 
Ta?köprü, which spans the Seyhan river to connect western and eastern Adana, is believed to have been built during the 4th-century AD during the Roman Empire by architect Auxentius and still in use only for pedestrians until today.
At Sheraton Grand Adana, many of its rooms and suites provide guests with a picturesque view of the Seyhan river and the Sabanc? Central Mosque, considered as the biggest mosque in Turkey.
Hotel guests can also savour authentic Turkish cuisine in its restaurants, served by friendly staff from breakfast to dinner.
The tour extended up to Onba??lar Kebap, a Turkish restaurant established in 1904 – popular for the quality of food it offers to its customers.
A kebab-making and cooking workshop, led by Onba??lar’s mastered chefs, was also organised to share their passion of giving the best dish for all.

Last updated: November 19 2017 11:28 PM

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