North-west from the city of Çorum is the town of İskilip, a quaint castle town tucked between the mountains and jutting rocks.
This narrow valley was once inhabited by the Hittites along what was their northern frontier. However there is no evidence that they were the first builders of the lofty İskilip Castle which looks down on the town from high on a rocky crag. While the town itself has little to offer the standard tourist, the mountain setting, the castle, and the local craftsmen keeping shop in the classic Turkish town are well worth the trek!
The most prominent sight in the city is the mountaintop fortification. 100 metres tall from highest to lowest point the castle is rather imposing. A number of years ago the castle walls still held numerous historic houses, giving the place a very original and quaint feel; today however, most of those houses have been torn down to make way for new traditional style homes and shops with the hope of bringing in tourists. According to local news sites this project was to be finished by 2015 but in 2018 reconstruction had not yet begun.
At the base of the castle mount are a number of Roman era, rock-cut tombs. The tombs are in decent condition, with a number of engravings still quite visible despite being in the open weather for centuries.
Tradesmen of the Old Town
(Free unless you buy something, which I would recommend)
We would argue that this is really the number one attraction to İskilip. In the narrow streets of the old town, just below the castle, are a few dozen shops used by various craftsmen. Most of these are working at jobs that are on the cusp of disappearing as mass industry takes over. Here you can see copper smiths, basket weavers (they actually weave wood here), blacksmiths, cobblers, knife-makers, and wood carvers producing and selling their wares.
Museum of Religious Teachers
İskilip Alimler Müzesi
Aiming at the religious history niche of the tourism market is this slightly fringe museum dedicated to the celebrated religious experts of the area. If you’re not a Turkish Muslim then it’s quite likely that this isn’t really something that is going to interest you. Various rooms of an old Turkish mansion (konak) are set up with life-like mannequins representing the various religious teachers while the furnishings and other objects in the room give a glimpse into what life was like in Anatolia in the past. The staff are incredibly friendly and quick to tell you about anything to do with local life and sights if you speak Turkish.
Great Mosque of Iskilip
The Great Mosque of Iskilip, while not exactly a major tourist destination, is a lovely example of late Ottoman provincial architecture. The exterior is completely unadorned and the dome is hidden in a regular-looking peaked roof. The design is much better for the cold snowy winters of the region. The interior dome has been beautifully painted as was the style in the late 1800’s. The traditional tilework on the mihrab (the niche indicating the direction of Mecca) is also quite ornate and beautiful.
How To Get There
As there is no airport in Çorum you will likely want to consider taking buses to and within Çorum. From the main city bus terminal in Çorum there is regular bus service to İskilip.
As mentioned above, there is no airport in Çorum so you may want to consider renting a car to get there anyways. From the city centre head West on the D180 highway then north to İskilip on the D775. İskilip is 57 kms from Çorum.
Where To Stay
As a small and thus far, rather untouristic town there are only a handful of options for accommodation. All of which aim at the lower end of the market offering very little by way of amenities. However, they are clean, comfortable, and cheap. Our recommendation would be to go to İskilip Gücü Lokali ve Oteli which is in the best location, closest to the old town. It’s cheap (40 lira in 2018), basic, and a perfect backpacker’s stopover.
If you visit during the late spring to early fall during a weekend there’s a good chance that the local delicacy of İskilip Dolması, a 12 hour slow-roasted meat on rice dish, is being served at a wedding somewhere. If you ask where you can try İskilip Dolması there’s a good chance you may get invited to the wedding of a complete stranger to try some!
Have any tips or info to add? Spot any mistakes? We’d love to hear about it.