Cappadoccia is a small town yet with abundant with nautral beauties and resources. Cappadocia was a must visit during our Greece and Turkey tour, primarily for the balloon ride at Cappadocia over the fairy chimneys. Apparently it is a part of the top 100 things to do before you die and why let go off that opportunity. Little did we know that other than the balloon ride, there were many more things to see and experience which remained etched in our memory forever. Goreme open air museum as well as the Zelve open air museum are such which I will share in a later post. However this is an account of day 1 after we reached Cappadoccia from Istanbul.
On reaching Cappadoccia we headed to Urgup
After we landed, we first headed to Urgup where we changed our vehicle so that we could head towards the day tour. Urgup is a small town with about 12000 inhabitants and a history which goes back to Roman era. Throughout our two days stay at Cappadocia, we crossed Urgup several times and also spent some time in the town center. While we changed the vehicle, the cave houses as well as the remains of the cave houses and the old lady with smile who did not know Madhushree or Rajashri and Sanchari but she gladly posed for us excited us. I was already thrilled about the cityscape as a photographer.
What’s the plan? On our way to Pigeon valley we saw Uchisar
We set ahead for Uchisar, which is a town with the highest point of Cappadoccia and the top provides an excellent panoramic view of the city. Now when I look back, I regret not exploring Uchisar or climb to the highest point as at that point of time, I was not an active blogger, a lesser evolved photographer having a wide lens on loan from a friend and never thought that I may need to write about my experiences later. While going to Uchisar, we took a pit stop at a place for traditional Turkish tea and for a view of the tallest castle in Cappadoccia. When looked closely, there were numerous windows and doors engraved in this eroded volcanic rock. Looking over the entire city, the houses with the red tops at the base and the entire town looked like out of an Arabic film set. We were being told by the guide Mustafa that the houses on the castle and the adjoining valleys are interconnected and often acted as a place of refuge for local people when enemies attacked. Staying in these houses are ultimate travel goals. I want that at some point of my life. My camera and my books with some good Turkish food and wine. What could be better?
From Uchisar to Pigeon valley – Unesco world heritage site
Pigeon valley is one of the main tourist attraction of Cappadoccia and don’t expect any silent calm place here. Falling in between Uchisar and Goreme, the pigeon valley along the walls of Uchisar and adjoining areas has a very interesting background. After the christians settled in, there were many churches built and drinking wine became a custom in the valley. Cappadoccia started producing wines and was hit by infertility of the vineyards soon. Many attempts and processes were futile to get the wine producing going and some wise old man someday suggested them to use pigeon dung as fertilizer for wine growing. Trails made by frequent walking by the tourists can be seen in between and for many, a trail or a hike is must here. The small holes made inside the limestone rocks to form the caves acted as shelters for pigeons and also for the pigeon dungs which are ultimately collected for the purpose of manure for the vineyards.
The Evil eye tree in Pigeon valley and Nazar stone or Nazar Boncugu, as they say in Turkey
It’s while moving around Pigeon valley that we came across this tree. Since the time we had been travelling, we came across this blue eyed amulet or Nazar Boncugu as known In Turkey all across. The key chains of the hotels, entrance of a restaurant, houses; it was almost every where. The Nazar stone is held as an auspicious motiff to ward off evil and protect the wearer in all aspect of life. The tree which we saw in pigeon valley had numerous Nazar stones tied to it and it’s said that one makes wishes by tying the stones to the tree and the wishes come true. I didn’t try neither got one for myself but the tree is pretty as a picture.
Underground city of Kaymakli
One of the best thing to do in Cappadocia and will have recommendations from all corners is to explore the marvel of the underground city of Kaymakli. We went there during the end of April and May and this particular travel will need lots of physical energy and to some extent fitness also. Walking through the narrow tunnels of a 8 storeyed underground city is no joke but definitely it’s an eye opener on how advanced engineering and technology was in yesteryears. There are around 36 underground cities in Cappadocia and Kaymakli is the widest one and the deepest one is Derinkuyu underground city. The caves were built during 7th – 8th century by the phyrgians or the locals at that time and has been used many a times in its history for refuge, be it the Byzantine times when the Muslim rulers invaded the city or the last and the recent ones being the Ottoman rulers, when the Greeks used this as an escape route. The first floor is stables (it was not possible to take the horses down below), the second floor has a church and a sitting area and the third floor has storage, wineries and kitchen. The entire journey is in a low light condition and although there is enough head space when you enter the particular floor, the passage tunnels are at times very narrow and kids are not allowed in this trip. Only 4 floors out of the 8 floors are open to public. This is not a place for people suffering from claustrophobia. I didn’t carry flash and hence I have no photographs of this place. It was built in days when there was no electricity. To make the place tourist friendly, they have lights all across the walls but again definitely not a place to get great pictures.
While writing about this place, this is the article which made me feel excited. These places contributing in a large way to the trade of Cappadoccia where the temperature of these places are around 13 degrees helps in storing thousands of tonnes of fruits like apples, cabbage and cauliflower for weeks. These fruits come fron Turkey’s mediterranean coasts and later exported to Europe Russia and other places. Noteworthy is how without electricity and any modern equipment, this place was built and for the entire time that we stayed there – not for once we felt suffocated, thanks to excellent ventilation system.
After an hour long trip, when you come out from the underground city and the first rays hit your eyes, the same place through which you entered looks different. There are some wonderful stores outside the underground city of Kaymakli and for tourists, it’s a treasure to be looted. Turkish handicrafts and local art pieces are sold there. Turkish ice cream and potato chips and some more refreshments are also available.
Cost of Entering the Kaymakli Cave – 25 Turkish Lira (the funny thing in all over Turkey is that they accept Euros but they gove back teh change in Turkish Lira)
Time of Travel – Around 90 mins
Guide – is needed and you will find them at the entrance but negotiate. Most of the times the tour planners attach a guide.
Cappadoccia is a small city in terms of area however within the small radius, there are plenty of places of explore and adventures to experience.
Post this, we spent some time at Urgup, drank wine from a local winery as well as saw their process of wine making, had a bath in the local Hamam and finally rested in our hotel. No, we did not stay at a cave hotel. Perhaps, we will need to travel once again for that and more.