In my last post, I talked about the Green Tour which takes you through the beauty of South Cappadocia. In this post we are going to explore the north region which is also called, ‘The Red Tour’. Keeping the huge area in mind, local companies have divided it into multiple tours but two of the most famous ones among them are the Green and the Red tours. They cover most of the famous places of the region. Unlike the green tour, the red tour cost me about 100TL (25 £) because the region it covered was not very far from Goreme town. I was picked up from my host’s place and this time, I had one middle-aged Chinese couple with me and that’s it. In a 16-seat minibus, we were three tourists and one guide in total which made it a personalized tour so I was happy with the fact. Let’s go through the route of this tour.
The first stop for the day was not very far and was named, ‘Uchisar Castle’. The castle is the highest point of Cappadocia and provides an astonishing panoramic view of the region including that of Mount Erciyes. We were at the bottom of the castle and going up was not a part of the tour because it required further trekking which would require more time. We had a good photo session because the tower looked great with tons of interconnected pigeon houses in the tower. Our guide filled us in with all the historical stories surrounding the tower but I wasn’t able to pay much attention because my camera was keeping me busy.
GOREME OPEN AIR MUSEUM
The open air museum is probably one of the busiest places in Cappadocia. The reason was simple- it’s the heart of the history of the region. The museum consists of five churches in total, dating as far back as the 10th century. Our guide told us about the histories related to each church and allowed us to go inside and explore the same because guides were not allowed inside the churches. In the olden days, Cappadocia used to be the heart of Christianity and that was the reason why every church in the museum had its own unique story and importance in history. As far as I was concerned, it was just another good photo spot for me. I wish I would have known more about the history of Christianity to make sense of the importance of those churches. The most famous church among them was The Dark Church but it cost 10TL extra to get in. I had had enough of churches after the last few days so I decided not to spend an extra 10 TL for another church. It is recommended to explore it if you are interested in such historical tours.
CAVUSIN OLD CAVE VILLAGE
Just when the day was starting to get a little dull, a small spontaneous gesture of the locals waving at us brought huge smiles on our faces. The Cavusin old village was another huge tower full of interconnected caves. It holds a very important role in the Greek –Turkey people swap from back in 1920s. This was the village where people were still living in caves even during the late 90s before the front of the tower was destroyed by earthquakes and other natural causes. The best part was that the caves at the base of the tower are still used by some people and there are shops and more people living on the inside. I went into one of the cave shops and the keeper showed me his lifestyle, bed, small corner kitchen, etc. I ended up buying apple tea from him which was my way of thanking him for his gesture.
AVANOS POTTERY DEMONSTRATION
After lunch, we were taken to a massive building decorated with differently shaped potteries on the outside. Pottery making is one of the main sources of business in the region. It’s mostly because the Red and White clay used in pottery making is abundantly found in the main river of the Cappadocia called the ‘Reed River’ and the ‘Black Mountain’ respectively. The town of Avanos is divided into two parts as the Reed River flows right through the middle of the town. We were demonstrated the complete process of pottery-making and their characteristics. The demonstration ended in a room full of unique handmade potteries painted in every possible colour combination. In a wider view, it was just amazing to see these many colours in a single place. The place we were in was called ‘Vanessa Seramicks’ and they tried hard to sell us their goods but as always, I just wandered in and came out.
IMAGINATION VALLEY/DEVRENT VALLEY
In my guide’s words, ‘‘There are some valleys where you don’t have to use your imagination and this isn’t one of them’’. The Valley of imagination is the place where diverse rock formations are naturally formed and closely resemble the shapes of various animals, things or anything else that you can imagine. The most famous formations are the Cap of Napoleon and the Camel Rock.
PASABAG FAIRY CHIMNEYS
Cappadocia is full of chimneys and they really do come in all shapes. After some information on how those chimneys are formed, our guide gave us time to explore and take pictures because the day was about to end and we were in no mood for any more details. The area has the best shaped chimneys in the region and they are quite huge. So worth a shot for sure.
URGUP FAIRY CHIMNEYS
Another set of chimneys, but these ones are special because they are also known as the ‘Face of Cappadocia’. Also known as ‘Three beauties’, they are located at the foot of the ‘Town of Erciyes’ Mountain, their creator. The fact that one can see the Erciyes Mountain and three chimneys within the same view makes them the face of Cappadocia. The view summarises the story of the region which started off with volcanic eruptions and ended up in cone shaped chimneys.
LOVE VALLEY In CAPPADOCIA
Our last stop for the day was changed by my Chinese companions from the previous Carpet Factory to the last minute decision of the ‘Love Valley’. A huge valley full of cone shaped towers and a view point on the top to enjoy the view was a good spot to sit down and admire the beauty of it all. When I enquired as to why the place was called the Love Valley despite of the stark absence of lovers. I was told that since all the cone shaped towers resemble a man’s genitals, the place was locally named as the love valley. It made no sense but I took my guide’s word for it. It was the time of the day when I finally put down my camera and sat on the chair and rewound the entire experience of the last three days. The traditional Turkish music was being played in some far away shop and we could hear it over the silence of the valley. The soft melody made the end of the day perfect.