Merzifon is 49 km (30 mile) far to Amasya. Merzifon appears to have completely overlooked the much older historic structures that lie at the heart of this quiet market town. That’s a shame because it would be well worth a short detour from more popular Amasya to see a mosque complex that is more complete than the II Beyazid one there.

If you walk uphill behind the bus station you will come almost immediately to an equestrian statue of the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha (1634-83) who was born in the nearby village of Marinca and who led his troops to defeat at the gates of Vienna in 1683. For that “crime” he was executed by being strangled with a silk cord.

Keep walking straight ahead and you will come to the rambling Tuzpazari (Salt Market) area where the hamam is still being restored (Aug 2012). Stroll between the shops until you emerge beside the small Donertas Mosque (1515) with the newly landscaped main square, dominated by the Kara Mustafa Pasha Kulliyesi (mosque complex), to the right.

This complex dates back to 1666 and consists of the mosque itself, and a bedesten (market hall), han (inn for travellers) and arasta (shopping arcade), all of them newly restored.

But perhaps the most striking feature of the complex is the sadirvan (fountain), one of a group to be found also in Tokat and Amasya that feature large “witch’s hat” caps over deep marble pools of water with taps set into the side. Like the one at the II Beyazid complex in Amasya, this one has lovely folk art paintings on its interior as well as calligraphic panels running round the edge. A roundel amid the paintings identifies the artist as from Zile. One would assume his was also the hand behind the Amasya fountain.

If you exit the courtyard from the entrance facing the mosque you will emerge opposite the Cifte Hamami. Alternatively you can leave via an arched gateway that leads down steps to the han on the left and the bedesten on the right. The latter has been turned into a delightful restaurant. If you walk between the two you will come to the older Tacettin Ibrahim Pasha Mosque (1443) whose sadirvan is set into a dip beside it.

Strike off from the town centre and you will come to some of Merzifon’s surviving Ottoman houses including the restored Mehmet Kutucu Konagi and another that was built in 1923, the year of the Republic’s birth. You may also find a building that was once a 19th-century church and then a cinema until it burnt down but that has also been restored recently. Also worth looking out for is the tiny Alaca Minare Mosque, with an original wooden door, and the huge nearby Pasha Hamami that still serves men and women, albeit at different times.

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