Cappadoccia, meaning either “low country” or “land of beautiful horses” depending on where it's name originally came from sits in Central Turkey. It is in Eastern Anatolia and is primarily in the Nevshehir Province. It's a volcanic region sitting on a 1000m high plateau pierced by high peaks, the largest of which is Mt Erciyes near Kayseri which is a ski resort in winter.
Historically the region has been fought over many times but was in the hands of the Anatolian Seljuks in the 12th Century but as they faded away the region came under the Ottoman Empire but is now firmly part of modern Turkey.
The area comprises many towns and villages the best known and from a tourist point of view the best landscapes, monasteries and fairy chimneys are found in the following places :-
Nevshehir, Goreme, Uchisar, Avanos, Urgup, Ortahisar, Zelve and Ihlara Valley, also there are several underground cities which were used by the locals to hide from invading armies and later during times of persecution the Christians used them to hide in as well, two of the best are, Ozkonak to the north and Derinkuyu to the south. As the whole area is now heavily dependant on tourism there are plenty of trips available to all the major sites or alternatively you can hire bikes, scooters, ATVs, jeeps, horses or use public transport. There are also specialised trips and safaris available for those into photography, ballooning or cooking.
The whole area expands way beyond the listed areas above and is made up of sedimentary rock, it's softness allowed people to carve homes, chuches, monasteries and storage rooms into it, sadly as the rock is easily eroded the buildings do have a relatively short life and the landscape here is for ever changing. The rock is full of minerals which in certain light conditions seem to change colour, beautiful pinks, soft greys, blues, whites and off white amongst them.
Also the time of day and sun play a big part in how the landscape looks, early morning and late evening are the best times for photography as the landscape seems to glow almost golden, however some of the valleys here are so deep that the midday sun is needed to penetrate to the bottom and give your photographs the light they need.
Talking about photography, the area has been used in many adverts and also feature films, most notably Assasins Creed : Revelations, there was talk of some Stars Wars movie being made in the area but apparently no permission was ever granted !!
Many of the rock formations are still lived in and it's quite normal to see satellite dishes and solar panels fixed to what look like rocks. Many of the hotels here, Goreme alone has over 140 of them are cut into the rock and use ancient caves as bedrooms, quite a novel experience for a night or two.
The summer tourist season here lasts for about five months and in that time many people will work 15 hour days to try and make enough money to provide for the rest of the year, this isn't the case everywhere as I've already mentioned that the area also has a winter season…yes it snows here and can be very cold.
So that's a little about this area, now for a few photos :-
The local carpet shop doesn't seem to mind you walking across his wares, a colourful display !!
The tallest “fairy chimney” in Goreme town just happens to be near our hotel, a great landmark when trying to find our way back !!
The photos above are local hotels, they really are quite remarkable and very beautiful !!
Three photo of our hotel !!
And a few panoramas taken from a local viewpoint !!
All the above photos were taken just in Goreme while walking about, however we'd booked a photo safari and the following photos are from our day out with Jules. She's originally from the States but after several countries now lives in Goreme. I was a little disappointed with the trip as I expected far more tuition but it turned out to be more of a taxi service to some of the beaten track parts of the area. That said we both enjoyed our day out and I think we got a few good photos !!
Our first stop was to a view point, one we'd not been to yet, just to get an over view of the area….stunning !!
Lots of grapes in the area, most are tended but those that aren't you can help yourself to 😉
More fantastic views, the last photo is looking across to Uchisar fort !!
I do love a good doorway, the more character the better, this one led to a wonderful garden where we were given tea and allowed to photograph the flowers 😉
Three photos from the lovely hidden garden 😉
Three photos from a very old village, certainly not a tourist spot, great character in the houses though 😉
I found this open door so intriguing, it had to be photographed !!
More doors, there will be more yet, so fascinating, just want to know what's denied it !!
No place to small, lovely detail and a splash of colour !!
Love the silhouette on this !
Not sure who put this here but it got my attention !
As I said, more doors 😉
A tumble down street and a chimney, looks so cute !
The detail suggest this was once a prominent home, sadly now a ruin !
Once someone's home, now a playground for kids and a photo stop for us !!
Now this fella just wouldn't leave us alone !!
A typical home in this area, part cave, part stone…all interesting !!
A close up of Uchisar Fort and the block houses that surround it !!
The lunch stop provided a few more photos, I love the jeans and flower pot and as for the sunflowers, just look at the colours and shapes…beautiful !!
The very top of Uchisar Fort, not for the faint hearted !!
The landscapes hear are far from normal, it's like Mother Nature woke up one day and said ” to hell with convention, let's shake things up a bit ” !! Just look at the shapes, the way the rocks seem to move and the colours, during the day they change, it's brilliant !!
A few photos from Love Valley, any guesses how it got it's name 😉
I love the way the path wanders through the rocks, just leads your eye on a virtual tour !!
Stopped here on the way to Uchisar, the sun was shining straight at it, what a fantastic little village !!
The sun was setting as we arrived here in Uchisar, the light was fantastic and it lit up the rocks perfectly !!
Looking up at Uchisar Fort, bathed in golden light it really is quite special !
The rock formations with the fantastic views in the background, incredible !!
Detail on the Fort wall 😉
I love the way this path leads you into the photo !!
Jules really did save the best for last, just look at the way the rocks just soak up the sun !!
And the end of the day, the sun setting over Uchisar, the minarets sillouetted against the layers of hills, fabulous !!
In terms of a photo safari,mi think it could have been better but perhaps it was my mistake, maybe I needed to ask for help. Either way I'm still pleased with the results 😉
Day two in Goreme started very early for us as we'd decided to get up at 4.30 to go and photograph the morning balloon flights ! Every morning in the summer season 100 hot air balloons set up and take off for an hours flight over the area, passengers fill the baskets, cameras at the ready for what must be a fantastic trip, although certainly not cheap it surely must be…..fantastic !!
Anyway we cycled the few kilometres out to the take off point and tried to capture the spectacle, once in the air we rode back into Goreme to photo them as they flew over the town. It really is a quite remarkable, colourful spectacle !!
The morning sun sillouetted the first balloon !!
Getting under way !!
More sunrise sillouettes !!
Balloon over Uchisar Fort 😉
Like I said, a fantastic spectacle, almost unsurpassed anywhere else in the world !!
Once back at the hotel we managed a quick breakfast before we were picked up by the mini bus for the ” green tour “, tours here are colour coded so everyone knows what's being sold, what's included and where your going. The green tour goes out to Derinkuyu underground city, The Ihlara Valley, the Selime Monastery and stops at an opal factory and view point on the way back.
I have to be honest here, this was not a great trip, it felt rushed from the start, we had no time to stop and enjoy the valley and even when we had to queue for the toilets we were being told to hurry up. We basically speed walked the four km through Ihlara valley just to get to lunch, it was so picturesque and we really wanted to enjoy it but our guide just kept on going. I fell out with her big time and very nearly lost my temper at her attitude but Naomi calmed me down and we continued. With all the rushing through the pretty bits I was even more annoyed to find we'd left time to stop at the opal factory, it wasn't even on the itinary !!
Oh well, rant over, let's get back to some photos :-
Arriving at the site, amazing to think that some guy renovating his house stumbled across this by accident when he was knocking down a wall to make a room bigger….got more than he bargained for !!
We were in a queue, they were beautiful…enough said !!
Several photos from underground, a real shame you don't get to much time to set up photos properly !!
Our next stop was Ihlara Valley, a few photos taken in quite a rush follow….
Shots of the valley from above, from there we climbed down the stairs to first visit a church before our speed march through the valley !!
We just couldn't believe the intensity of colour in these frescos after so many years…amazing !!
Wandering or should I say marching through this valley with it's towering sides and clean river, abundant trees and shrubs really should have been a pleasure but we literally had to run to keep up !!
The above photos are at the lunch stop, very nice setting, excellent food, it's a shame that yet again we were rushed, no time to enjoy the meal or surroundings. Seriously we were no more than twenty minutes from the time we sat to when we left, we thought we had forty five mins !!
From here it was a short drive to Selime Monastary, carved into a huge rock this place is amazing and has exceptional views. It's several rooms, some decorated other more plain but most gave carvings if not paintings, just fantastic. It started life as a Caravanerai and you can quite clearly see that the tunnel on the way up was built for these huge beasts, it's been several other things throughout it's life but is remembered best as a Monastary. Here are a few photos :-
Our first view, looks amazing from here but it gets so much better 😉
Tunnels, rooms and corridors just lead of in all directions, I especially like the fact that the tunnel is camel shaped !!
Just look at all those rooms to go and explore, they linked together with even more tunnels !!
Oh, I did mention the views right….stunning !!
Inside was just as impressive !!
Naomi sillouetted taking a photo of the view 😉
More tunnels, more views, fantastic place but again, so little time to explore it properly !!
From here it was back in the bus for a 90 minute drive to an opal shop / factory, no I didn't buy anything as I was still pissed of at having to rush the good bits to make time for this….aaaahhhhh !!
A panoramic view point was next, we'd already done it before, then back to the hotel. We'd be leaving in the morning so it was time to pack and settle the bill. All in all I enjoyed Cappadocia, it's a fantastic landscape and if you can get your head around the fact that it's just so much a tourist hotspot then it's a great place.
Oh well, that's another blog done and dusted, keep reading and enjoying and take care 😉