Are you the romantic type?
Then you need to send a big thank you note to Kapadokya Jet Boat & Gondola.
Thanks to their vision of seeing the Kızıl Irmak (Red River) used for tourism, they have turned our quaint town of Avanos into a “Little Venice.”
However, what if I said Kapadokya Jet Boat & Gondola has turned Avanos into an Ottoman “Little Bosphorus?”
The Sultans in the 18th and 19th centuries would sail their gondolas across the Bosphorus in display of the grandeur and magnificence of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultan’s vessel was unlike any of the hundreds of other boats on the Strait. It was the longest, at thirty meters, and also had the most oarsmen, twenty-six. This distinction made it obvious from a glance that royalty had taken to the seas!
The Kapadokya Jet Boat & Gondola boats are not “Ottoman” large. The sleek, black, fiberglass gondolas you find here in Avanos are just over eleven meters in length and require only one paddle-wielding captain. Navigating the fast-flowing river is made easier by a small, silent, onboard engine. However the gondola skipper is quite adept with his oar and maneuvers the craft skillfully across the river for an authentic Ottoman experience.
The décor of the Sultan Kayığı (Sultan Gondola) was like a palace on water. The Sultan took his place on an actual throne in the stern. Guests would sit on plush, velvet, cushions embroidered with gold trim. Rumor had it that the open-winged eagle perched on the bow was solid gold, while the gazebo-like throne canopy was 14 karat gold plated.The gondola was so spectacular that when it skimmed across the water, His Highness’ subjects would bow to him along the shore! So impressive was this spectacle that a British author penned these words:
“There is probably no boat in the world so thoroughly elegant – the canoe of the Indians, the gondola of the Venetian, even the antique classical-looking bark of the Arab, beautiful as it is, must yield the palm to the boats of the Bosphorus.” – The Beauties of the Bosphorus, Miss Julia Pardoe, 1839
Now do not expect gazebos and thrones on the currents of the Kızıl Irmak. But the six passenger gondolas are really well appointed. From the comfortable cushions to the gold trimmed antique motif carving you may actually think you are royalty. And while chances are nobody will bow as you pass, the amount of tourists asking you to wave and smile at the camera will make you feel like a Sultan!
BE CAREFUL WHOSE BOAT YOU BOARD!
Not all royal gondola sightings brought joy to the people, however. Esma Sultana (1778-1848), daughter of Sultan Abdul Hamid I, was widowed at age 25 and never remarried. Instead, as legend has it, she boarded a golden gondola and sailed the Bosphorus Strait. Picking up handsome unsuspecting youths she returned to her palace for the night. In the morning she would have her lovers killed, and disposed of in the sea, leaving no evidence of her sexual exploits.
Whether you are taking a family vacation or a romantic getaway, whether you are a foreign visitor or in the expatriate community, you will enjoy your gondola trip down the Kızıl Irmak.
As long as you do not travel as the infamous Sultana did, that is!
Have you been on a gondola ride? How was your experience?
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A Gondola Ride Through History – Avanos, Cappadocia
Are you the romantic type?