Most people come to...
Most people come to Kayseri as the departure point for a tour of Cappadocia. Once Cappadocia cut the broadest swathe through Anatolia - bordered by the Black Sea to the north and the Taurus mountains to the south, by the Euphrates in the east and the salt lakes in the west.
Today, the region we know as Cappadocia is less expansive - it is only a strip of land between the lakes and Kayseri. This is an area upon which Mount Erciyes and the lesser volcano, Hasan Dagi, showered vast quantities of mud, ash, and lava during some of the greatest eruptions in history.
Upon contact with the air, this debris was transformed into soft tuff stone, creating an otherworldly landscape made even more fantastic by thousands of years of erosion. Here one finds rough white stone columns that turn ochre when the sun goes down, and fretted valleys marked by the evidence of centuries of human habitation.
These inhabitants have been of varying lineage. The Bible insists that the Mushki and Tabal tribes living in Cappadocia were the 'coarsest people on earth'. Other ancient writers noted that the women were of unrivaled beauty. It was an area that attracted diverse migrants. The Tabal Kingdom, which occupied nearly all of the area of modern Cappadocia, fell in the 8th century B.C. to the Assyrians, and later to the Persians. They were drawn to a land of rich resources: gold and silver, as well as sheep, goats and fine horses.
Its most famous residents came not in search of wealth, but of solitude and refuge. Although the horses of Cappadocia are not as numerous or famous as they once were, it is nonetheless fitting that it was on horseback that, in 1907, French cleric Guillaume de Jerphanion rediscovered the monasteries which the Byzantine Christians had left behind.
The monastic invasion of Cappadocia was set in motion by St. Basil, the 4thcentury Bishop of Caesarea, who chose withdrawal into a natural environment. For the next thousand years the region became one of the centers of the Greek church and a destination for pilgrims. The monks first settled in the Goreme Valley - an area bordered by the market city of Nevsehir and the town of iJrgiip. Nevsehir is a modern, uninviting place topped by the ruins of a Seljuk fortress and site of a statue of Ibrahim Pasa, a local man who, in the first half of the eighteenth century, became grand vizier to Sultan Ahmet III.
Much more interesting to visit is Urgiip, where some of the local farmers still live in their traditional rock-cut dwellings above the town. Most of them now inhabit an attractive chaos of beige stone houses that jostle for space along the cobbled roads leading towards the central market square.
In stark, provocative contrast to the ostentatious wealth of the jewelry and carpet shops that line the arcades of the square is the poverty of the townsfolk themselves - subsistence farmers for whom the donkey, rather than the tractor, remains the most common means of transportation. Many of the locals are vine growers, tenders of the unique Emir grape that has given the wines of the town a deserved international reputation. Every year there is a festival here attended by vintners from many nations.
There are 350 churches in the vicinity of Goreme, six kilometers from Urgup. Most date from between the 9th and 13th centuries, the heyday of monasticism in Cappadocia: It was a period of tranquillity after continuous Arab invasions and sectarian infighting. Some of the best preserved churches are in the open air museum just outside the contemporary town of Goreme. Many feature simple barrel-vaulted naves with an apse and a horseshoe arch.
Most contain frescos; many have sadly been marred by (often piously-motivated Muslim) vandals who have scratched away the faces in the paintings. Even so, these frescos constitute one of the finest collections of Byzantine art in existence.Their style embraces the whole span of medieval Christian art beginning towards the end of the 6th century and reaching its peak during the 11th and 12th. Artists were drawn from the community of monks or imported from Byzantium by wealthy monastic patrons.
It was an exuberant devotion. The beauty and the brilliance of the frescos that adorn the churches betray the monks' commitment to bringing the beauty of holiness into their stone retreats: From the typical portrayal of Christ being crucified against a deep aquamarine sky in the Tokali Church, to the detail of the shepherd playing on pan pipes in the Church of the Virgin. All these extensive, figurative illustrations amply demonstrate the monks' immense knowledge of the saints of their religion.
In the Yilanli Church, probably a funerary chapel, is a rare and highly provocative 11th-century depiction of St. Onophrius, a woman who, having repented her sins, became a man with a long white beard and breasts. Then there are the portraits of St. George, said to be of Cappadocian origin, fighting with a great white snake rather than the usual green dragon. The soldier is a dominant image in many of the paintings. This is perhaps most striking in the 9th-century Church of St. John above the nearby village of Cavusin, where many villagers still live in caves hewn out of rock. They are a reminder that the Byzantine monks, although under the protection of a local, wealthy, warrior aristocracy, were constantly under threat from Arab invaders.
While no one can deny the frightening desolation of the environment in which the monks chose to live, theirs were busy, thriving communities. Perhaps Zelve, four kilometers from ~_avusin, provides the best insight into the way in which they managed their domestic affairs. The complex is riddled with interconnecting tunnels which link together churches and monasteries.
From Zelve it is a short journey to Avanos, renowned for the skill of its potters. The town lies on the shores of Kizilirmak, the longest river in Asia Minor.
The monks also settled in the Soganli and Ihlara valleys, to the south of Goreme. On the right side of the Soganli valley is the intriguing Monster Church, in which naked women suckling snakes are depicted.
Although many of the monastic settlers left Cappadocia after the Ottoman invasion of the 15th century, the region continued to have a significant Greek population until the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. At that time they were all forced to return to Greece.
Prior to that exchange, the long-standing co-habitation of Greeks and Turks in Cappadocia had for the most part been peaceful. In the Ihlara valley, the 13thcentury Church of St. George boasts a portrait of the saint flanked by a male and female dressed in Seljuk Turkish costume. The names of the ruling Seljuk sultan and the Byzantine emperor are engraved into the wall next to each other.
Hacibektas, 60 kilometers to the north of Nevsehir, is another tribute to the peaceful coexistence of Muslim and Christian. It was the home of the Bektasi dervish order, founded in the 13th century by the mystic Haci Bektas Veli. His mausoleum and the seminary of his order have been beautifully preserved.
The small hamlet of Mustafapasa is an example of peaceful ethnic relations. Before Ataturk, the village known as Sinasos was dominated by the presence of Greek farmers and traders. In the center is Little Istanbul. Now a hotel, it was formerly the home of a rich Greek jeweler who spent much money and effort lining the interior with vibrant fresco decoration. The Greek villagers also made efforts to decorate their own houses with smaller paintings, perpetuating the old traditions of the first monastic arrivals. Every year, eldery Greeks return to Sinasos from Greece to visit their former homes, now inhabited by Turks. The 9thcentury monastery of Aya Vasilos is on the edge of the small, lazy village.
But conflict was also widespread in Cappadocia. The underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli were both places of refuge for the local community. The rock chambers were fitted with great millstones that could be rolled across entrance ways to block the path of aggressors like the iconoclasts, marauding Arabs or Mongols. Kaymakli was last used in the early 9th century during the invasion of the Egyptian army. It is an eight-level city complete with chapels, funereal chambers and carefully constructed air shafts.
.With thanks to Trav Wizard.Com Travel And Cruise Consultants: Cappadocia Vacations
My friend and I did a lot of...
My friend and I did a lot of hiking around the area and also spent an afternoon horseback riding outside Urgup. During that day we had a great experience when we tied up the horses to go look inside a cave church that we found. While we were resting there, a goatherd came by and invited us (and our guide) to have tea with him and his friends in their shelter. We spent a good while in there, drinking dozens of tiny glasses of tea, using sign language to communicate, and soaking up the life of a goatherd in rural Turkey.
Caesarea or Kayseri 6000 years old city
Kayseri, known as Caesarea in Roman times is situated in the West of Cappadocia, known as The city is in the foot of and old volcano Mt. Erciyes (3,916 meters).This is also a silk road city. Caeserea was also an important city of Christianity in the early years of Byzantine This is a 6000 years city .Empire. In the North of Kayseri, Kültepe, known as Kanesh or Karum, was one of the earliest Assyrian and Hittite commercial cities Dating from 2000 B.C, Kültepe was also one of the world's first cities of free trade. Today, Many of the findings can be examined in the Kayseri Archaeological Museum .Kayseri is one of the most important carpet and kilim production centers in Anatolia. Bünyan is the most famous carpet production center and Yahyali is the most famous kilim production center.
"Kayseri rugs and kilim"
Kayseri is also well known with the production of hand made rugs
specially the carpets of bunyan and the kilims of develi are very prescious
Pastirma and Mt Erciyes
This central Turkish city is known for pastirma (a cured meat product similar to pastrami) and sucuk (about as close to pepperoni as you can get in Turkey). Both are very good here. Also, it's proximity to Mt Erciyes makes it scenic enough to enjoy the nature. During my trip there, I stayed at a ski resort on Erciyes, and it was beautiful. After suffering the heat in Adana, spending a weekend high on a volcanic mountain (where you could see your breath in the morning) was wonderful. There are no trees on the mountain, which was a little strange, but taking the chair lift to the top and enjoying the view was very nice.
WELCOME TO ERKAN KIRAZ’ S KAYSERI CITY PAGES
Founded in ancient times Kýrþehir became, in the Middle Ages, the center of the Ahi Brotherhood, a Moslem sect whose moral and social ideals played an important role in the spiritual and political life of Anatolian towns. Among Kirsehir's many fine Seljuk buildings are the Cacabey Mosque of 1272 (a former astrological observatory), the Alaeddin Mosque of 1230, and the Ahi Evran Mosque beside which is the tomb of the founder of the Ahi sect. Out of town, on the road toward Kayseri, is the attractive Asik Pasa Mausoleum which was built during the period of Mongol rule, in 1333.
The road to Nevþehir and Cappadocia passes through Hacibektas, the town where Haci Bektas Veli settled and established his Bektaþ Sufi order in the 14th century. The dervishes who followed the sect's tenets of love and humanism were housed in the monastery which includes a mausoleum and mosque. The complex is now a museum open to the public. Onyx, plentiful in the region, was used by the disciples of this order and has come to be called Hacibektas stone. In town there are many onyx souvenirs for sale. It is worth stopping to wander through the interesting Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum.
Nevsehir, a provincial capital, is the gateway to Cappadocia. In the town itself the hilltop Seljuk castle, perched on the highest point in the city, and the Kurþunlu Mosque, built for the Grand Vizier Damat Ibrahim Pasha, are among the remaining historical buildings. The mosque forms part of a complex of buildings which includes a medrese, a hospice and a library. An ablution fountain in the courtyard still bears its original inscription. The Nevsehir Museum displays local artifacts.
Violent eruptions of the volcanoes Mt. Erciyes (3916 meters) and Mt. Hasan (3268 meters) three million years ago covered the plateau surrounding Nevþehir with tufa, a soft stone comprised of lava, ash and mud. The wind and rain have eroded this brittle rock and created a spectacular surrealist landscape of rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines, in colours that range from warm reds and golds to cool greens and greys. Göreme, known in Roman times as Cappadocia, is one of those rare regions in the world where the works of man blend unobtrusively into the natural surroundings. Dwellings have been hewn from the rock as far back as 4,000 B.C. During Byzantine times chapels and monasteries were hollowed out of the rock, their ochre-toned frescoes reflecting the hues of the surrounding landscape. Even today troglodyte dwellings in rock cones and village houses of volcanic tufa merge harmoniously into the landscape.
Ürgüp, a lively tourist center at the foot of a rock riddled with old dwellings, serves as an excellent base from which to tour the sights of Cappadocia. In Ürgüp itself you can still see how people once lived in homes cut into the rocks. If you wish to buy carpets and kilims, there is a wide selection available from the town's many carpet dealers. These characters are as colorful as their carpets, offering tea, coffee or a glass of wine to their customers and engaging in friendly conversation. If 'sightseeing and shopping haven't exhausted you, the disco welcomes you to another kind of entertainment. At the center of a successful wine producing region, Ürgüp hosts an annual International Wine Festival in October. Leaving Ürgüp and heading to the south, you reach the lovely isolated Pancarlik Valley where you can stop to see the 12th century church with its splendid frescoes, and the Kepez church which dates from the tenth century. Continuing on to the typical village of Mustafapasa (Sinasos), the traditional stone houses with carved and decorated facades evoke another age. Still travelling in a southerly direction, just past the village of Cemil, a footpath on the west side of the road leads to Keþlik Valley where you will find a monastery complex and the Kara Kilise and Meyvalý churches, both of which are decorated with frescoes. Back on the main road you come to the village of Taskinpasa where the 14th century Karamanid Mosque and Mausoleum Complex, and the remains of a medrese portal on the edge of town, make for a pleasant diversion. The next village is Þahinefendi where the 12th century Kirksehitler church, with beautiful frescoes, stands at the end of a footpath 500 meters east of the village.
Soganli, 50 km south of Ürgüp, is a picturesque valley of innumerable chapels, churches, halls, houses and tombs. The frescoes, from the 8th to the 13th century, trace the development of Byzantine painting.
Four kilometres north of Ürgüp is the wonderful Devrent Valley where the weather has eroded the stone into peaks, cones and obelisks called fairy chimneys.
Two kilometres to the west, in the Çatalkaya Valley, the fairy chimneys have a peculiar mushroom-like shape, which has been adopted as a symbol of the town.
The Göreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex of rock churches and chapels covered with frescoes, is one of the best known sites in central Turkey. Most of the chapels date from the 10th to the 13th century, the Byzantine and Seljuk periods, and many of them are built on an inscribed cross plan with a central cupola supported by four columns. In the narthexes of several churches are rock cut tombs. Among the most famous of the Göreme churches are the Elmali Kilise, the smallest and newest of the group; the Yilanli Kilise with fascinating frescoes of the damned in serpent coils; the Barbara Kilisesi; and the Çarýklý Kilise. A short way from the main group; the Tokali Kilise, or Buckle Church, has beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the New Testament. The town of Göreme itself is set right in the middle of a valley of cones and fairy chimneys. Some of the cafes, restaurants and guest houses are carved into the rock. For shoppers, rugs and kilims are plentiful.
Continuing on the road out of Göreme, you enter one of the most beautiful valleys in the area. Rock formations seemingly out of a fantasy rise up before you at every turn and entice you to look longer and wonder at their creation. For those who climb the steps to the top of the Uçhisar Fortress the whole region unfolds below. Rugs and kilims, and popular souvenirs can easily be purchased from the shops which line Uçhisar's narrow streets.
At Çavusin, on the road leading north out of Göreme, you will find a triple apse church and the monastery of St. John the Baptist. In the town are chapels and churches, and some of the rock houses are still inhabited. From Çavuþin to Zelve fairy chimneys line the road. Unfortunately, it is dangerous to visit the churches in the valley because erosion has undermined solid footing.
The charming town of Avanos, on the banks of the Kizilirmak River, displays attractive vernacular architecture and is known for its handicrafts. Every August the town hosts an Art and Tourism Festival where a creative and friendly atmosphere pervades. Pottery is the most popular handicraft and it is usually possible to try your hand at making a pot in one of the many studios. Rug weaving and knotting is also making a revival. Leaving Avanos in a southerly direction you come to an interesting Seljuk caravanserai. On the Nevsehir - Ürgüp road you can't miss Ortahisar and its rock carved fortress. The churches in the Balkan Valley are some of the oldest in the Göreme region. In the neighbouring Hallaç Valley, the Hallaç Monastery displays decorations from the 10th and the 11th centuries. North of Ortahisar, the Kizilçukur Valley is breathtakingly beautiful especially at sunset. In the valley is the 9th century Üzümlü church.
The underground cities of Kaymakli, Mazi, Derinkuyu and Özkonak were all used by the Christians of the seventh century as places of retreat in order to escape persecution. They fled from the iconoclastic strife of Byzantium as well as other invasions in these safe and well hidden metropolises. A complete environment, these cities included rooms for grain storage, stables, sleeping chambers, kitchens and air shafts. Today they are well lit and an essential and fascinating part of a Cappadocian tour.
West of Avanos, Gülþehir has Hittite rock inscriptions, and nearby, at Gökçetepe, there is a bas-relief of Zeus. South on the Nevsehir road brings you to the 13th century church of St. John, and farther along is Açiksaray where the carved rocks hold churches and chapels.
West of Cappadocia, over the mountains, lies Kayseri, known as Caesarea in Roman times. The city spreads out at the foot of Mt. Erciyes (3916 meters), an extinct volcano. In the winter months the ski center has excellent runs for downhill skiers. Close to the Byzantine fortress the 13th century Huant Mosque and Medrese and the Mahperi Hatun Mausoleum comprise the first Seljuk complex in Anatolia. South of the complex stand the beautifully decorated Döner Kümbet of 1276, the Archaeological Museum and the Köþk Medrese, a Mongol building of classic simplicity. A major Seljuk city, Kayseri was an important center of learning and consequently there are many medreses among the remaining historical buildings. Those interested in this particular architectural form should see the Çifte Medrese, the first medieval school of anatomy and the lovely Sahabiye Medrese. Near the city's bedestan is the restored 12th century Ulu Mosque. The Haci Kiliç Mosque, north of the Çifte Medrese, dates from 1249. Rugs woven in finely knotted floral patterns continue a centuries old tradition. Local production can be purchased in any of the town's carpet shops. South of Kayseri, in Develi, stand three more important Seljuk buildings: the Ulu Mosque, the Seyid-i Serif Tomb and the Develi Tomb. Nearby, the Sultan Marshes, the habitat of many species of bird, are of interest both to ornithologists and nature lovers. North of Kayseri, Kültepe, known in ancient times as Kanesh or Karum was one of the earliest Hittite commercial trade cities. Today, however, only the foundations remain. Many of the finds can be examined in the Kültepe Museum as well as in the Kayseri Archaeological Museum.
On the same road is Sultan Han, a caravanserai built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in the early 13th century and a favourite stop for tourists.
Nigde, the Nahita of Hittite times, lies in a valley flanked by volcanic peaks and commands the ancient trade route from Anatolia to the Mediterranean. Nigde's castle owes its present form to the Seljuks, and the elegant Alaeddin Mosque dates from the same period. From the 14th century era of Mongol rule are the Sungur Bey Mosque and the Hüdavend Hatun Mausoleum. an excellent example of the Anatolian tomb tower. The 15th century Ak Medrese now houses the Archaeological Museum.
Ten kilometres out of town is Eskigümüþ, a Byzantine monastery and church with massive columns and frescoes. These frescoes, which date from the 10th and the 11th centuries, are among the best preserved in the region.
Bor, south of Nigde, was once a Hittite settlement. The town's historical buildings include the Seljuk Alaeddin Mosque and the Ottoman bedestan. Farther on, in the same direction, Kemerhisar is the site of the important Roman city of Tyana. A few more kilometres brings you to some Hittite ruins and a Roman aqueduct. Most of the historical buildings in Aksaray, west of Nigde and south of Cappadocia, such as the Ulu Mosque, date from the 14th century. The Kizil Minaret is noted for its attractive decorative brickwork. Two of the most famous caravanserais from the Seljuk period remain in the environs. Just 40 km west of the city is the well preserved Sultanhan Caravanserai built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat, and 15 km towards Nevþehir is the Agýzkarahan Caravanserai. The Melendiz River, at Ihlara, has eroded the banks into an impressive canyon. Byzantine rock chapels covered with frescoes pierce the canyon walls. Some of the best known are the Aðaçaltý (Daniel) Church, the Yilanli (Apocalypse) Church and the Sümbüllü (Hyacinth) Church.
Güzelyurt is another valley with dwellings dating from prehistoric times. You can see the beautiful silhouette of Mt. Hasan rising like a crown above the town. The valley's underground cities, buildings carved into the rock, interesting vernacular architecture, churches, chapels and mosques embody all of the characteristics of Cappadocia and give visitors a sense of historical continuity. A popular tourist destination, Güzelyurt's hospitable residents, extensive accommodation and restaurants ensure a pleasant stay.
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