Day 28 (2): Underground cities and canyon walks

Derinkuyu Travel Blog

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Terrific views in Cappadocia
People I met here and/or traveled with: Shawn (New Zealand), Bauqo (Japan)

A quick shower and breakfast later I was picked up by a minibus for a day trip to the farthest end of Cappadocia.
My fellow travellers were a mixed bag: a Dutch bloke, two Polish girls, a Kiwi couple, three Indian guys living and working in Qatar and many, many Japanese. Independently travelling Japanese I might add, now there is something you don't see every day.

The tour started with a stop at a lookout point from where we had a good view over the stunning Göreme valley.

After this it was an hour's drive to the town of Derinkuyu, home of the largest underground city in the Cappadocia region, which has been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage list.
Well, at least the crowds make it feel like a city
Underground cities? Yes, more than 4000 years ago Hittite settlers expanded the natural caves found in the soft limestone, creating dwellings up to 11 stories or 70 metres deep. People continued to live in these underground cities for thousands of years, well-protected from invaders, creating living quarters, common rooms, stables and even churches. So far 36 of these cities have been discovered by archaeologists so far, but many more are thought to exist.

Visiting the city was quite a claustrophobic experience. Not so much that I was clambering through tiny tunnels deep underground, but more that I had to share this experience with hundreds of other tourists. And this was supposed to be the low season (well, as I later learned, the tourist season was just starting, a few days earlier tour groups consisted of no more than ten people, whereas now most agencies had at least two tours of 20+ people running).
At the Ilhara canyon
I really don't want to know what this place looks like in high season.

Next we went for a lovely walk in the Ihlara canyon. Back in Byzantine days this was a favourite retreat for monks, who created small chapels in the caves here. These days it is a popular retreat for day trippers and we had a lovely walk through the deep, beautiful canyon.
At the end of the canyon we had a very nice lunch at a small restaurant with attractive shady seating built on small platforms above the Ihlara river.

I must say that I was impressed by the quality of the food. Normally at such large group tours you don't get much decent food, but here we had a very nice three-course meal with choice of several main dishes (kebabs, grilled trout, chicken or beef casserole).

Next stop was the Selime monastery, a monastery entirely cut out of rock, of which several colonnaded chambers still survive.
having a little zen moment at the monastery

After some nice clambering at the monastery we drove on to pigeon valley for a photo stop. Back in the days of the cave dwellings the main form of communication was done via pigeons, and hundreds of pigeon cages have been built in the small caves in the fairy chimneys.

The obligatory shop-stop was at an onyx workshop (obviously located inside a cave). Again, I was pleasantly surprised by the way this was organised. We got a very informative demonstration about how candlesticks, ashtrays, lamps and statues are made from the hard, translucent marble-like stone, and while the Japanese maxed out their credit cards on souvenirs, the rest of us were offered some complimentary çay outside in a sunny seating area.

I'd liked today's tour. I generally prefer my excursions to be with smaller groups, but it had been a really nice and informative day out.
Back in Göreme I had a small dürüm for dinner at a place recommended by the couple from New Zealand, before I headed back to my pension for some very well deserved sleep.

inkie1010 says:
Wat een gave reis zeg!! Ben benieuwd naar je komende avonturen! Have fun! Groetjes, Inge
Posted on: May 10, 2010
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Terrific views in Cappadocia
Terrific views in Cappadocia
Well, at least the crowds make it …
Well, at least the crowds make it…
At the Ilhara canyon
At the Ilhara canyon
having a little zen moment at the …
having a little zen moment at the…
Terrific views in Cappadocia
Terrific views in Cappadocia
Terrific views in Cappadocia
Terrific views in Cappadocia
at the look-out point
at the look-out point
Göreme lookout point
Göreme lookout point
Derinkuyu underground city
Derinkuyu underground city
inside the underground city
inside the underground city
inside the underground city (watch…
inside the underground city (watc…
old lady selling souvenirs at the …
old lady selling souvenirs at the…
pretty spectacular views from the …
pretty spectacular views from the…
Ilhara canyon
Ilhara canyon
frescoes inside a cave chapel in I…
frescoes inside a cave chapel in …
Walking in the Ilhara canyon
Walking in the Ilhara canyon
Walking in the Ilhara canyon
Walking in the Ilhara canyon
Walking in the Ilhara canyon
Walking in the Ilhara canyon
Ilhara canyon
Ilhara canyon
Views of Erciyes Dagi and Kaga Dag…
Views of Erciyes Dagi and Kaga Da…
Selime rock monastery
Selime rock monastery
at the Selime rock monastery
at the Selime rock monastery
view from the Selime rock monastery
view from the Selime rock monastery
Selime rock monastery
Selime rock monastery
inside the Selime rock monastery
inside the Selime rock monastery
inside the Selime rock monastery
inside the Selime rock monastery
inside the Selime rock monastery
inside the Selime rock monastery
views from the Selime rock monaste…
views from the Selime rock monast…
view over pigeon valley
view over pigeon valley
Pigeon valley
Pigeon valley
Derinkuyu
photo by: Biedjee