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Guzelyurt underground city
As I said before, one of the two big cities (Kaymakli or Derinkuyu) is enough for the visitor to have a good view of what was an underground city. But if you want some more there are about 30 other underground cities in the area and most of them don’t have visitors at all. The one at Guzelyurt is small comparing to the famous ones with nothing really interesting after seeing other underground cities before but it has some interesting passages and tunnels. It is more adventurous because you have to climb up 2-3 meters in a vertical kind of a well to pass to the other level. There were holes on both sides of the wall so it wasn’t so difficult. For some strange reason I found it more difficult when I had to go down a level. The only problem was the dirt on our hands.
The rooms in Guzeryurt underground city were much bigger though because it is a city from the 18th century so I guess the people started to build larger, more comfortable cities. Many walls have christian symbols like the one that creates a cross (pic 1) if you write in the same circle all the letters of the greek word (IXTHIS). The word means fish in greek and if you put the greek letters together a cross is revealed. When Christianity was abandoned the Christians used to draw a fish as a sign to recognize their companions because the romans for example didn’t know what’s the meaning of it. You can see
At the first level there was enough light from outside (pic 2) but further down it was difficult to see without a flashlight because some electric lamps inside were out of order. What’s more it is the only underground city I saw a WC inside the city! It was a toilet a la turk, the one with the just a hole at the floor (pic 3) although here was kind of scary because the hole was so big that there was a danger of falling down and gone forever!
Guzelyurt means “beautiful place” in turkish and it is also the name of the nearby village that has about 3000 inhabitants. It is another village that used to be full of greeks until the 1924 population exchange. The village was known as Gelveri or Karvalla until that time and now I know why the village Nea Karvali in NE Greece has this name. The turks that came from Greece to Guzelyurt were from the greek cities Kastoria and Kozani. You can check the architecture of the houses. Have in mind that its not allowed to build a new house without local stone because all the house must be similar to protect the traditional appearance of the village.
The interesting sight here is the St.Gregorios Nazianzus church which is build over the first orthodox church in Cappadocia(back in 385!). St Gregorios lived in the area and had turned the village into an important centre while he tried to spread Christianity. Unfortunately, it was under restoration when I visited so I couldn’t see inside. The new church was built in 1896 and became a mosque after the arrival of the muslim families.
Guzelyurt is 14km from the Ihlara Valley.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
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Taskinpasa, Sahinefendi and Guzel Oz villages
Three off the beaten path villages for sure. I spend more time in Taskinpasa because I wanted to see the medrese(school in arab), and the old mosque that dates back to the Seljuk period. There were some old stones inside the mosque, probably one of them a sarcophagus but I couldn’t find any info about them and there was nobody there to ask. Taskinpasa was the Byzantine Tamisos but Taskin Pasa was a strong leader of the area in the 14th century.
Sahinefendi village isn’t something special but it was close to the Sobesos excavations that came in light recently when a local found something and called the authorities to check the place. Some months after the gave him the job to be one of the guards of the place! There wasn’t any entrance fee but for some strange reason the guards didn’t allow me to take any photos of the roman ruins. There were some interesting floor mosaics that would probably worth a visit from you. They say that when the ruins will be uncovered the place will be really important and then there will be an entrance fee :)
Guzel Oz has a strange name. It means “beautiful being” in Turkish and I have to say that the village doesn’t look beautiful at all. I was trying to feel the “deepest beign” of the area but the sun didn’t help so I just smiled and got into the car again… :)Related to:
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Cemil village and Keslik monastery
One day I decided to visit some old greek villages, Cemil (pic 1)was my first stop at the SE part of Cappadocia on my way to Soganli valley. Cemil was inhabitants by Christian families. The old church (pic 2)looks nice by distance but its almost destroyed inside. I liked the narrow streets and the locals that came out to say goodmorning. There is a small mosque but nothing special. Agriculture is the main income for the locals and as elsewhere I saw many pumpkins in many corners!
2km away is the Keslik Monastery(pic 3). It’s not so famous as Selime monastery but I had a great peaceful feeling wondering around here because there were no other visitors! What’s more the wall paintings are much more interesting here. The monastery had about 250 people capacity with two cave churches. The first one is Archangelos church(pic 4) and the other one St.Stefanos church(pic 5).
The entrance fee is 3YTL(1,8euro). There are also many cave houses, the dining hall and the refectory and some pigeon houses. I was alone in the monastery and stayed for a while with guard (Mr Cabir) of the place that offered me a tea and told me some things about the monastery.Related to:
- Religious Travel
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Nar lake and Damsa lake
If you have some more time and a private car it will be nice to see some other nice natural sites around like lakes!
Nar Gol(Pomegranate lake) is a beautiful one, 50km SW of Nevsehir, close to Derinkuyu underground city on the road to Ihlara valley. We were tempted to swim but you cant swim here or find any fish inside because of huge amount of salt. I’ve been told that there are hot springs near the lake still useful for people that suffer from rheumatism etc This lake is a volcanic crater and a big proof that the whole region was a volcanic area once. If you go near the lake you can smell something like acid and see gas bubbles on the water.
We ate some strange fruits near the lake though, I don’t recall the name of them but they were ok and we are still alive so I guess they are eatable now! :)
Damsa lake was bigger, I stopped there for a while on my way to Soganly valley. It is situated 17km from Urgup, it was constructed on the Damsa River and it is used as a big iirigation canal. A local told me that there are some small fishes here and swimming is allowed. You can see the lake as Damsa Dam on the maps. I guess it will be very hot to walk around here in the summer but tha shade of the pine trees may help.
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watch the Göreme sunset with a glass of wine
Go to a winery -there are a lot around the Cappadocian villages- and buy a bottle of wine, you can have some wine tests first and then chose the one that pleases your taste.In Göreme there is a spot up to the hill where you can watch the sunset and take some photos of the scenery around, the wine just completes the scene.
Take a break from natural sights...
Take some time off from the Cappadocia`s natural wonders to see the local architecture. The normal houses are simple - some straightforwardly poor - have their own typical characteristics and fascination too. Also take some time to talk to the people... most speak very little or no English, but they are incredibly friendly and welcoming
enjoy the mountains... not only the rocks
Cappadocia is not only rocks... it's mountains, too... or better: so is the landscape when approaching Cappadocia from Ankara. I went in the winter, so it means there are smaller crowds of tourists and colder weather (snow included). Ok it`s a bit cold but the landscapes are even more spectacular. Mountains like thse, which I believe are the Taurus mountains, are truly spectacular.
Where's the arc?
Reputed as being the final resting place of the Arc, as in Noah's Arc, Olympys is visible from nearly the entire region, but few are willing to make the drive.
If you do, the temperatures will drop as you climb and you can have a light lunch on a high plateau and play in the snow fields.
There have been many expeditions into the mountain areas in search for the arc or anything related to the biblical events. History does show there to be flooding in the past and geographic location does make is probable that Olympys could be the high ground safety that Noah was searching for.
This old karavanderay was a resting point in the ancient camel routes through Anatolia. Is a huge cuadrangular building with a courtyard in side. In the middle of the patio you can see the little mosque where the travelers used to pray.
The Cappadocia lanscape is quite barren. It looks like a desert. But, if you look more carefully, you will see more. Like this beautiful gorge we hit by mistake, visiting a church carved in the rock nearby. Down there we found a river, plenty of animals and pistachio bushes...
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Visit Hacibektas while in Cappadocia
A Cappadocia-visit should also include a visit in the town of Hacibektas. The town is located nearly 1 hour's drive from Nevsehir. You take a local minibus or midibus from Nevsehir. By travelling northwards via the town of Gulsehir you arrive in Hacibektas.
Approximately one fourth of the people in Turkey belong to Alawi-Islam and Haci Bektas Veli is one of the leading personalities of this sect. Without a visit in Hacibektas, it is difficult to get a full picture of Turkey. In the present day world where we search for dialogue between the religions, it is probable that a key to this dialogue will show itself in Hacibektas. Alawi-bektasi sect of Islam is based mainly on the ideology of having the human beings in the center of all and with its simplistic ( and easy-to-understand) philosophy, it propagates for being a good person with a proper life.
In Hacibektas-town, visit two places:
1) Hacibektas Museum, which is the monastery where the pupils of Alawi-Bektasi sect were trained. There you find different section of the monastery with amongst others the kitchen and the tomb of Haci Bektas Veli.
2) By driving few minutes from the town center , you come to a type of open-air museum with an amphi-theatre and a "cilehane". "Cilehane" is a small cave and if you can pass through the small hole, this means that you are free from your sins.
In the Culture Center of the town, you also may join at certain periods SEMA-performances, which is the Alawis' traditional dances.
There is a website about the town of Hacibektas but it is only in Turkish. At least in the main page, you find a video ( without voice) showing the town. Website address is http://www.hacibektas.com/.
DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT...
- Visiting and seeing the rock churches of Nevþehir province and Byzantine wall fresco arts,
- Visiting the Hacýbektaþ Museum in which the samples of Turkish -Islam art creations are exhibited,
- Visiting the Külliye and Mosque of Damat Ýbrahim Paþa located at the Nevþehir city center,
- Visiting the Hittite rock epitaph located in Acýgöl District,
- Buying earthenware pots and pans, adornments crafted from copper and onyx stone, and leather crafts as souvenirs,
- Trying to make earthenware pots in the pot and pan workshops which are powered with the turning by your feet in Avanos,Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Theme Park Trips
- Adventure Travel
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