Brown Signs – Historical Sites worth the Wild Goose Chase?!


brown signs

If you’ve driven anywhere out of the Incirlik Alley, you might have come across one of these little brown signs:


After my first “brown sign” sighting, it did not take long for this architecture-history-loving-nerd to put two and two together and realize that “brown signs” = old old ruins that we NEED to stop and see. Right here! Right now! Pronto!

In a perfect world, the signs would lead you right to the historical sight. You might think, surely there must be another brown sign pointing the way closer to these ancient ruins?! However, this is not always the case.

I sometimes compare it to ‘garage sale-ing’ on Saturday mornings in the USA. You spot a sign that lures you in. You make the turn. You’re committed. And now you’re hopeful. But where, where is the next sign?! Why couldn’t they put up one more sign to let you know you’re on the right path?! After minutes of driving up and down streets, trying not to seem too suspicious to the neighbors who are clearly not too thrilled about being up at the crack of dawn walking the dog – And then, you finally find it. But with no thanks to the signage!

brown signs

So before you embark on a brown sign expedition here in Turkey, here are a few pointers:

1)    There are lots of “Brown Signs” around Turkey – Be realistic that you will not be able to visit them all in one day. You’re here for a couple years; so if you see one, mark the coordinates and know that you can always come back!

2)    The folks who placed these “Brown Signs” around Turkey, obviously took lessons from American garage sale-ers in Sign Posting 101. Basically, that first sign you see, might be the only sign you see. Prepare accordingly.

3)    By “prepare accordingly” I mean, prepare to either be comfortable with getting lost and/or prepare to really get to know the back roads of Turkey.

4)    Know that the locals WILL stare. Although, they might be herding goats instead of walking their dogs.

brown signs

I’ll never forget our first “Brown Sign Adventure.” One Saturday morning, we decided to drive up to Uzuncaburç near Kiz Kilesi. We were overwhelmed with the amount of Brown Signs on the drive up that by the time we arrived to Uzuncaburç it was almost sunset! One sign led to another sign which led to another. I don’t even know how we arrived to this site, but my husband and I have an affinity for ancient Byzantine church ruins, so we decided to check it out. (It is actually one of the older yellow signs before they replaced them to brown ones.)


Hasanaliler Kilisesi, 12 kilometers. My husband and I looked at each other, both thinking the same thing, “12 kilometers – Is it worth the wild goose chase?” After all, 12 kilometers could be an easy 10 minute drive or a crazy 1 hour drive depending on the roads unknown before us.

In that 12 kilometers, which I think was actually more like 20 miles, we never saw another brown sign, and our conversation along the way went something like this: “Should we turn here, or maybe the turn was back there?” Followed by, “Do you think this dirt road is actually a road?” And, “By the way, didn’t we hit 12 clicks about 5 clicks ago?” “Where are we?! And where is this so called pile of rubble?” Frustration builds. Lots of locals in random villages staring at our large American car. Awkward!

Out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere, here it is:

brown signs


So in conclusion, I implore you, in the safest manner possible, to follow every brown sign. Take a lot of pictures. Mark those coordinates. And let us know about your Brown Sign Adventure!!

Also, as I was doing research for this blog, I came across another blog regarding the Hasanaliler Kilisesi. As I read the 3rd paragraph of this blog, I felt that this couple had the same exact experience as we did in locating the Hasanaliler Kilisesi. This is just one example of a Brown Sign adventure. And surely, it is not the only one! I can promise you that much!


brown signs

Coordinates for Hasanaliler Kilisesi: 36.463945, 34.08607


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