Guide to SKOPJE

Museum in small Turkish village of Baksi the best in Europe

Baksi village, formerly known as Bayraktar, looks like an ordinary village in Turkey where the remaining 480 inhabitants (the ones who have not yet gone to Istanbul 1100km away, to the capital Ankara 600 km away or to the nearby Bayburt) live a peaceful life. Unlike the first two hectic, multimillion metropolises, Baksi is a village where time seems to have stopped. Despite its remoteness, it is very well-known round the world. You must be wondering why? In the past it was popular as a place where the legendary Silk Road passed. It was mentioned in the travelogues of Marco Polo and Evliya Celebi. Nowadays, the village is famous for the best museum in Europe – the Baksi Museum.


The museum was awarded the 2014 Council of Europe Museum Prize. On the occasion, in the next 12 months Baksi Museum will exhibit a bronze statue by the artist Joan Miro which is a symbol of this award and is on display at the awarded museums. In these idyllic surroundings the modern building of Baksi Museum seems like a building from a science fiction movie.


It rises high on a hill overlooking the river Coruh and people traveling through this region would never guess it is actually a museum.


The idea to make this facility in such a remote village was a longstanding dream of artist and academic Husamettin Kocan. Balkon 3 spoke to the founder of the best European museum, whose idea to merge modern and traditional art brought him worldwide fame.

– The idea grew out of a desire to support the region and the locals because of the ongoing process of alienation and disappearance of local traditional values. One of the reasons for the existence of this museum is that we wanted to bring contemporary art to small towns. We eliminated cultural bias by exhibiting traditional cultural artifacts along with modern art – says Kocan for Balkon 3.

He stresses that the idea was not immediately accepted with enthusiasm and many people found it rather strange.

– In some academic circles it was considered strange to merge the traditional and modern in a museum. The villagers were amazed when we exhibited the tools they are still using or the ones they have stopped using. We know that modern art is fed by tradition, and what keeps the tradition alive is precisely that new thing that uses it over and over again – the artist explains.

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The museum not only breaks cultural barriers but it also plans to focus on the social and economic problems of the region. Kocan believes that the award will attract a large number of visitors and thus encourage the development of the region. The region is desperately in need of people who are largely migrating to the big cities. The village was once famous for weaving and its pottery handicrafts but now these trades are practically lost.

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Traditional architecture has gone along with the carpenters and builders who moved to the cities. The word “Baksi” in the local dialect means a shaman who in turn symbolizes health treatment, care and support, and that it exactly what Baksi Museum does for this quiet dying village – it heals the wounds of time.


What to see:

Bayburt Citadel

It went through a number of failed restorations, but it’s the best attraction in the town of Bayburt. It dates back to the Urartu Kingdom (900-600 BC) and is mentioned in the stories of Marco Polo and Dede Korkut.

Bayburt Kale-Citadel

Snake village

Kirkpinar village is 25 kilometers from Bayburt. Each year the village is a meeting place for fans of snakes which are believed to have healing powers. Snakes appear during May and June in this region and then disappear.

Sirakayalar waterfall

The waterfalls in Sirakayalar village are a wonderful gift of nature. They are especially popular in the summer when there are a lot of tourists.

What to do:

Photo safari

The area around Bayburt is great for photo safari throughout the year, especially the mountains that have eternal snow or the Coruh river valley and the nearby waterfalls.

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The Coruh river is 260 km long and offers great rafting adventure opportunities. It is considered one of the fastest rivers in the region making it great for this sport.

Hiking and Fishing

Nearby mountains and pristine nature are great for anglers, and the surrounding peaks reaching up to 3000 meters height are excellent for hikers.

bayburt harita

Enjoy the best museum in Europe – Baksi Museum, enjoy the untouched nature and adventures that this beautiful part of Turkey offers.

Article by Balkon3