Spread across the middle of Turkey like a lunar landscape, Cappadocia is home to a bizarre field of anthill-like cones, rock-hewn churches and underground cities where Christians once hid to avoid persecution. It is a spectacular sight and one that has captivated travelers for centuries. First visit to Kaymakli Underground City; carved out of rock and completely self contained. More than 200 people lived on each of seven floors. Next will be the natural citadel of Uchisar. The Goreme Open-Air Museum, which is full of pink, rose and white tapering columns is not to be missed. The caves were settled in the 4th century as monasteries. Wander to the nearby Pasabag Valley and Avonos Village and survey the fantastic panaroma
Pasabag or as the crude translation would have it 'General's Vineyard', is a collection of fairy chimneys located in a vineyard. Fairy chimneys are spire like rock structures that rise from the ground and often may have a large rock or cone right on top. Though the science behind it is confusing, the spectacle is not. These pillars crowned by large conical rocks are a sight that often fills one with trepidation, especially if one is walking around them! Nevertheless, seeing the fairy chimneys on Pasabag, some of which are double or triple capped cones, that is a structure of 3 conjoined pillars instead of a solitary one. Apart from these rock structures, there is also a chapel dedicated to St. Simon here, a reason for which is given in a story that speaks of him coming here to live in seclusion.
Göreme Open Air Museum
Just 15 minutes from the village center lies the Goreme Open Air Museum. It is a large complex that holds 11 rock-cut monasteries and numerous frescoes. These churches and frescoes were built and completed through the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. Now, after a lot of restoration work, the churches and their frescoes have been returned to their old glory. All the churches are cut and hewn into the rock, you can see little cells and windows in the yellow-brown rock of this hilly area, but the intricacy and skill that went into the making of these structures can be seen once inside. Large, cavernous halls with pillars and arches, the majority of which have been decorated with frescoes depicting incidents and stories from the Old and New testament. The frescoes such as those inside the Church of the Buckle have been done in an indigo blue, a color that still retains its vivid despite so many centuries having passed since they were made.
Cappadocia Taxi Tours
Thousands of years ago a group of ancient volcanoes spewed out layers of thick tuff which covered the countryside for miles and miles around. Those volcanoes were Mr Erciyes, Hasan and Melendiz. Over centuries the wind and rain made it so that the soft rock was carved into spectacular gorges and left behind amazing pinnacles of rock, the most famous being the 'fairy chimenys' which is how Cappadocia came to be. It is more than just the dramatic rock mounds, humans have also left their unique mark on the region, by carving cave storerooms, stables, cave house and cities underground of rock! Even to this day these places still exist, thought most are inhabited, but some of the rock-cut storerooms are still stuffed with fruits and vegetables in the winter.
Güvercinlik Vadisi (Pigeon Valley)
Right below the Uchisar Castle, the connecting link between Goreme and the Uchisar lies the Pigeon Valley. The people of this area used to make pigeon houses in the nooks and crannies that the hilly area provided, to harvest the pigeon excreta to use it as a fertilizer. These pigeon houses were painted white to attract the birds, and the entire landscape is full of such areas with white stone-faces with black holes peeping out at you. These hollowed out the dove-cuts make for a unique and intriguing landscape that you can easily hike through.
The rock of this particular area is of a kind that is malleable and easily crafted. Thus the churches as well as the Uchisar Castle rather than being erected like buildings are structures crafted out of and into the rock faces and the mountainous geography. Uchisar is the highest point in the region and the castle that has been hollowed out into the rock provides excellent views of the region below with Mount Erciyes in the background, seeing tiny holes in the rocks and also numerous fairy chimneys on the land below. Walking through the dark and cool rooms of the castle, up and down stairs cut out of rock, the castle seems like a dwarfish settlement out of one of Tolkiens books! Though erosion and decay have made many areas of the castle inaccessible, many such rooms are used as pigeon houses.
Bizim Ev Restaurant
Nice restaurant run by a family with the traditional Anatolian cuisine. It's a nice place to have lunch, great food and ambiance. The interior decor of the place echoes the structures that dominate this area, and the cavernous lounge that they have made for people to sit and eat is a hat tip to the architects of old.
A magical world is where we are off to on another gorgeous day in Turkey. Located in central Turkey, there is a place, a place with fairy-tale-like rock formations, these formations have been carved over centuries and centuries by erosion, and these days the rocks are called 'fairy chimneys' or hoodoos. Turkey is not the only place in the world with these rock formations, you can also see them in Utah, or South Dakota. But only here in Turkey have the people made the amazing 'fairy chimneys' into homes and churches.
Goreme National Park
On our fifth day of our trip in the magical land, we visited Göreme National Park in Cappadocia, an open air museum and another popular UNESCO World Heritage in Turkey with volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion forming a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys”. The location of Göreme was first settled back in the Roman period. Christianity was then the prevailing religion in the region, which is evident from many rock churches that can still be seen today. There are eleven refectories within the Museum, with rock-cut churches tables and benches. Each is associated with a church. Most of the churches in Göreme Open Air Museum belong to the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries where Christians lived, worked and worshipped. What surprise me is the fact that no stone-craved cross is spotted even though cave churches are concentrated in this area. Interior of these caves are covered with beautiful frescoes whose colours still retain all their original freshness. No photo of the fresco was taken because apparently it was strictly prohibited. Sun rays making the ash and lava look like huge gold nuggets. If you think the photos are awesome, wait till you see it with your naked eyes. It was pretty gloomy and cloudy on December. Not forgetting the cold breeze too. We were pretty lucky that it was not raining or else it would be slippery climbing up these caves and we would not be able to have clear view from of the scenery at all.