The Church of St. John's is on the way to the Zelve Open Air Museum from Goreme. As it is just off of the main road, it is easy to visit by car but if you are like me you will probably stop by on the hike along the way to fairy chimneys. The church was carved into the rock around the 13th century. It features sum of the more interesting frescos that you are going to find in Cappadocia.
Avanos is a town north of Göreme, famous for its pottery. If you are going on a tour you will probably make a stop at one of the workshops.
When I went on the Ihlara-tour from Göreme one stop was at a pottery workshop in Avanos. The pottery is handpainted and can be very nice. In the shop I visited there were different rooms depending on the cuality of the pottery. I can tell you that in the most expensive room there were many beautiful things.
North of Ihlara, cut in the rocks, is Selim Monastery. It is a complex with several rooms. The church has a gallery and you can climb some stairs to the upper gallery in one room.
The rocks are more cone shaped here than in Göreme.
Some people say that this place was used when making the Star Wars film, but it is not true.
This is the best panoramic viewpoint from which to see the complete view of Goreme valley and Goreme village: fairy chimneys, rock formations and cave houses. Goreme means "can’t see", but this is the one place where you can "see" it all! The village is full of fairy chimneys, some of which have been converted into homes by cutting caves out of the soft volcanic rock.
Unfortunately we didn’t make a stop here and saw Esentepe only out of a bus’ window…
You may watch my high resolution photo of Goreme Valley on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 38° 38' 20.39" N 34° 50' 13.21" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Esentepe.
You may watch my 1 min 31 sec VIDEO-Clip Goreme Part IV with Turkish music out of my Youtube channel.
Supposedly these rocky cones were used as a backdrop for the movie, "Star Wars". Whether it is true or not, I do not know. I suspect that a second crew may have taken a couple of shots of the scenary. If you watch the film you will probably see a quick glimpse of these rocks.
Ihlara Valley is a 10 km long gorge, southeast of Aksaray. The valley is full of rock cut churches, but only a dozen of them are open to the public. Several of them have well preserved paintings. It is a green gorge with a stream, Melendiz Suyu, running along it. It is a nice place for trekking.
In many of the churches of Ihlara Valley there are well preserved old frescos, some dating from the 10th and 13th century.
The fresco in the picture is from the first church you come to when you walk down the steps from the resthouse, close to Ihlara Village.
Along the road between Aksaray and Nevsehir there are a few caravanserais (or ruins of them).
On the Ilhara-tour I took from Göreme we stopped at Agzikara Hani, which is the best preserved of them. It was built during the 1230s. Entering the courtyard there is a mosque. Around are the rooms for the traders and animals.
As the name implies (Guvercinlik in Turkish), this area is filled with dovecotes - colorful dovecotes. Unfortunately, the cold, damp weather prevented me from going down the valley and enjoying the dovecotes up close. The rocks here have a soft pinkish color with brownish undertone - good for a few shutter snaps. Also interesting are the carved edifices on the rock face, including one that looked like a church (see picture 2).
The trail leading to the valley could be accessed from the Goreme-Uchisar road. The trail starts from a lookout across a shop selling onyx souvenirs, where a signpost has been erected for hikers' benefit.
The green valley makes a nice contrast to the surronding planes and it is a perfect place for a nice walk. You can make it a full day and walk all the way between Selime Monastery to Ihlara village, while you take your time to have a look in all the chuches and stop for lunch at a restaurant by the river.
If you, like me, visit on a daytour from Göreme you will probably make a shorter walk from Ihlara village to Belisirma and only visit one or two churches.
One of the more unexpected surprises that I had while touring Cappadocia was this wonderful rockcut monastery. The Selime Monastery was carved out the rock by Christian monks in the 13th century. The size of the church makes a visit here astonishing. How did the monks manage to carve such a large complex out rock with such amazing detail. Columns are meticulously carved in huge chambers. The church consists of monk quarters, a large kitchen and even a stable for mules. The walls of the chambers were at onetime adorned with frescos but little of these remain. The Selime Monastery was probably the most impressive of the rockcut churches and monasteries that I visited in Cappadocia.
A problem with visiting this monastery is the approach to it. I visited with on a bus tour. From the road there is a short but challenging climb up a steep and slippery hill to the monastery itself. Some of the tour group could not make the climb which is very sad because the seeing monastery was worth the effort.
I think that it is actually free to visit the monastery if you are on your own. A guardian closes the place up after sunset.
Ask in the tourist office for a map of the area with suggested walks and trails. There are several nice loops on packed dirt, sand and rock, that maintain a constant elevation and pass through the scenic valleys.
If I had more time I would take an advantage of this opportunity!
You may watch my 1 min 31 sec VIDEO-Clip Goreme Part IV with Turkish music.
The fascinating lunar landscape around Goreme make for great hiking locations.
Accessed through well-beaten tracks running off the Goreme Open Air Museum-Goreme road is Swords Valley (Kiliclar Vadisi), a magnificent collection of out-of-this world rock formations, ancient rock cut dwellings now abandoned, and if you have the energy to climb up a few strategic look outs, breathtaking vistas of the Cappadocian landscape. Not even the damp, cold weather (around 2-5 degrees centigrade) could prevent a couple from having a mid-morning picnic!
The abandoned cave dwellings are the most interesting attractions here. You can still figure out how these rocks have been carved inside to make room for living spaces. It is still possible to imagine how people here lived in the past! The area could have been perfect location for the Flintstones' hometown - Bedrock City.
Swords Valley is one of the most accessible hiking sites from Goreme. To go there, take the spur road to your left (on the way to the Goreme Open Air Museum) at the junction where the "Swords Valley" sign stands. From there, the whole place is virtually all yours to explore. Word of caution, though: some rocks could be very slippery when wet, so use suitable hiking shoes with good traction.
uchisar is a few kilometers from goreme and you can either walk there through the pigeon valley (a very sceneic walk that takes a little over an hour) or go there by car.
the town is a real gem with rustic houses and a rock castle sitting right on top of all the houses.
together with goreme the most charming village in cappadoia in my humble opinion.
the ibrahim pasa mosque in nevesehir is one of the oldest and most interesting mosques in cappadocia and worth a visit.
it's a very large mosque that also has a turkish bath and a school at the complex.
nevesehir is a pretty good place to do a bit of shopping so my suggestion is to make a half day trip there and combine a visit to the mosque with a couple of hours of shopping.