As I had mentioned in my first post about Cappadocia, (Read here) the whole region is majorly dependent on tourism. All the touristic activities are well organized and managed by tons of local travel agencies. The region is huge in expanse and each part of Cappadocia has different activities and different parts of history to offer. One of the most famous things to do in Cappadocia is watching the sunrise from a balloon ride over the Red Valley. Other than that, there are numerous well organized tours run by local companies. Every tour covers a specific area and is mostly defined by their colour code for example: Green Tour, Red tour and the Blue tour. Although the colours of the tours have nothing to do with the particular area or its attractions so the colours keep interchanging so don’t get confused with the colour. You don’t need to book any tour in advance. You can always do it once you are in Cappadocia because there are a lot of options and it is better if you do it directly at the agency to avoid middle man commissions. I did just the Red and the Green tour because my host, Ayse told me that those cover the most famous attractions of the region and since they are full-day tours and I had only two days in Cappadocia. So I took her advice without a second thought. I booked my trip with the company called ‘Andromeda Turkey travel’. The tour cost 120Lira (30£). I was picked up at about 9:30 am along with nine other tourists.
Our first stop within a 10-minute drive was a beautiful view point known as the Goreme Panorama. It was a view point extending the breathtaking view of endless land full of cone shaped chimneys; naturally transformed artistic stones and the mesmerising ambient music coming from the local shops just made the moment perfect. There are lots of shops you can buy local jewelleries and other handicraft stuff from but make sure that you do your bargain and don’t fall for the first price that they say.
DERINKUYU UNDERGROUND CITY:
There is a saying in Cappadocia that your visit to the region is not complete if you haven’t explored it on all three-Sky, ground and the underground. During the ancient times when Christians had taken refuge in the region to practice their religion, they had built underground cities to live in. Cappadocia has many such underground cities, some of which have been vandalised but some of which are still preserved. The biggest and the deepest among them is the Derinkuyu City. It’s unbelievable that the city was built 7 levels under the ground using a single ventilation shaft. To be able to make the city liveable under such conditions, it has to be a true architectural masterpiece. The city included a winery, baptismal, meeting rooms, a church, a well, a grave, and a kitchen, but no toilets or a proper defence system to protect them from attack. The guide was explaining all about which floor was made for who along with other historical details which are better experienced than said. One important tip is to keep your head down because there are no helmets.
IHLARA VALLEY HIKE:
Our next stop was the main attraction of the day located at the foot of the Hassan Volcano- the longest valley on Cappadocia named the Ihlara Valley. The Ihlara valley is the longest, deepest and largest canyon in Cappadocia. The valley was 14kms long and we were dropped at the 3kms point, after which we had to go down about 200 wooden stairs to reach the valley floor. Before starting our hike, we visited the Ağaçaltı Cave Church dating back to the 4th Century. It was full of fascinating paintings from the 10th century. We had to hike about 4kms along with the valley river which made the walk more pleasant. We were surrounded by towering cliffs and the ruins of 1500-year old caves. After a 3kms walk, we were served a well earned lunch at a small restaurant within the valley.
After 20 minutes of driving, we reached the base of a Greek Village holding cone shaped cliffs. As we walked up to the cliff, we passed through some fairy chimneys. We stopped at a view point where our guide explained the layout of the village and some historical stories about the same. The village monastery was dated back to the 8th-10th century and included a missionary school, a living area, and at least one church. Massive interconnected rooms carved with old paintings had been designed in such a way that despite of providing the least exposure of the outside, they were liveable. The area is also famously mistaken for the shooting spot for some scenes from the famous Star Wars Series film but our guide reassured us that there was no truth in it and it was just rumoured so because of the similarity in the landscapes.
PIGEON VALLEY PHOTO OPP:
Pigeon Valley was our second last stop after the long day and it was a view point from where the clear view of the Uçhısar Rock Tower/Castle could be spotted. Thousands of pigeons were happily roaming around in one corner. You can feed them if you wish or run into them so that they scatter away to create a great photogenic effect. We didn’t spent much time there because at that point, everyone in the group was almost desperate to go home.
ONYX JEWELRY FACTORY & DEMONSTRATION:
Gem Stones are another speciality of this region (which is indeed no surprise as volcanic regions are usually full of such natural treasures). The factory tour was our last stop and it demonstrated the region’s industrialized side. After walking us through the life cycle of a raw marble being developed into precious earrings, we were led to the factory shop. When the shopkeeper got to know that I was Indian we chatted for a few minutes about Indians and their affection for gold and jewellery. He tried to trick me into buying something for my girlfriend but the look on his was funny when I told him I didn’t have one.
It was a great day full of historical facts and stories; something I would definitely recommend if you are planning to visit Cappadocia. Feel free to drop comments if you have any questions.