So Much To Do……..
20th December 2016
We drove from Aksaray to Göreme that day, going along the winding and bendy road. Since it had snowed the night before, there was lots of snow about. It was a short drive. And when we arrived we checked into the cave hotel and unpacked before going for a walk around the town of Goreme.
21th December 2016
Since we had never been to the Cappadocia area, today we planned to go on a tour around the Northern part of the region. We booked a tour, met the lovely, professional tour guide and climbed into the bus.
So, we started the day at the Cavusin town. The Cavusin is one of the oldest settlements. Furthermore, it is known that the monks used this place for a long time as a retreat during the time of the Seljuk and Ottoman periods.
By the beginning of 20th century, the village had a composed population with many Christian Orthodox families. The houses were actively used up until 1924 when the population exchange happened between Greeks and Turks. All the Christian citizens from this village and all over Turkey had to leave their country to return to Greece as well as all the Turkish Muslim citizens in Greece having to move out from Greece to return to Turkey because of the same population exchange.
According to the officials, about 1.2 million Christians left Turkey while about 600.000 people came from Greece. The people coming from Greece were accommodated in the empty houses of the Greek villagers who had left.
Goreme Open Air Museum is located in the Goreme Valley, it is considered the start of the monastery where the education system and between 4 and 13 centuries,it has hosted an intense monastic life.
After Exploring for an hour or so examining living conditions, churches and communal areas, we went back to the bus to drive to a local pottery and ceramic factory in Avanos, where many people visit each year.here there is a museum as well as a demonstration area. It’s very interesting and well worth a visit.
We then had lunch in Avanos. The last two sights to see were the fairy Chimneys, but before going to see that, we went to a local wine company, and we sampled and bought some lovely locally produced wines.
The fairy chimneys are very impressive they are incredible and they are everywhere.
22nd December 2016.
Winter is one of the best seasons to travel to Turkey. With its beautiful mountains, wonderful cities, and with it’s all year round activities, there is a great sense of excitement in most places. Today’s plan was to visit the interesting and almost unknown hidden church, it’s called the El Nazar Church, which is situated in El Nazar valley. The church dates back to the end of the 10th century.
Walking towards the Open Air Museum, the church is on the first right hand turn off. From the turn of, there is a 5-10 minute walk on a quiet and tranquil path, that passes through lovely snowy fields, tress of mistletoe, and many stray dogs, which linger outside there kennels, barking and howling at us.
Despite the racket coming from the stray dogs, The walk is lovely, quiet, and generally not crowded, and Asena and Vodka loved running and bounding through the snow.
The views can be pretty gorgeous as the walk is through volcanic rock, trees, and scrubby vineyards, and much of it overlooks the El Nazar valley, where the Goreme open air museum is located. Frescoes in these rock churches were very important in the days they were created. Most people couldn’t read so one way to pass on biblical stories was through pictures. The ones at El Nazar depict various scenes including the Annunciation, the Nativity, the raising of Lazarus, crucifixion, ascension, and several others.
However, for some reason, the church was closed. So, we let Geoff rest, and mother and I set out on an adventure, trekking through many different types of shrubbery, stepping in deep snow, and enjoying the beautiful view. The reason many churches are built into Goreme’s clay is because when Christians were expelled from Jeruselam, they came to hide from the savage Roman Empire, and they set up one of the first Christian colonies in the area.
Afterwards, we had a drink near the church, before having a restful afternoon at the hotel.
23rd December 2016
After some breakfast, we went to the interesting and amazing, Kaymakli underground city. Kaymakli underground city is built under the hill known as the Citadel of Kaymakli and was only opened to visitors in 1964.
The people of Kaymakli village have constructed their houses around nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city. the city descends 8 levels, however due to tunnels collapsing only 5 levels are open for exploring.
The passages are low and narrow, and slope from level to level. The first floor is a stable, the second is a church, the third contains many storage areas for wines, fruits, vegatables and meats.The fourth also holds storage. Even though not all the floors have been excavated, it is believed that the Kaymakli underground city is one of the largest in the world. Inside, there were also rooms for the poor, middle class, and the upper class. There was also a communial Kitchen.The tour ended back on the top floor.
We found a guide at the entrance to the cave city, he was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, it really makes sense to hire a local guide as the tunnels are vast and without him we wouldn’t have known what a lot of the rooms and areas were used for. He was called Mustafa and really did resemble a mole the way he scurried around the tiny tunnels he lead us through!
After visiting the underground city, we went on the icy road to the old Greek village, Mustafapasa.
Before the population exchange in 1924 the Turkish and the Greek’s lived in perfect harmony. However after World War I the governments of those countries decided that as as pawns of the treaty of Luzon population exchange would take place.
There are many abandoned cave dwellings in the proximity of the once orthodox town and it’s interesting to be able to spot Greek styles and Influences which still remain.
Whilst walking through the village we saw signs pointing to the monastery of St Nicholas. We got back in the car and went for a look. The church has been massively restored, so there are no art frescos inside and the view from the monastery was amazing. obviously as we approach Christmas Day the visit was very apt!