Part 8 and last one of a trip to Southeast Turkey and Cappadocia, which started on Oct 12th (Part 1), Oct. 14 (part 2) Oct 15 (part 3), Oct 16-17 (Part 4) Oct 18th (part 5) Oct 19th (part 6) Oct 20-21 (part 7)
Urgup, Gurume, Tokali - Buckle, Avonos,Zelve, Pasabag
The weather was still cold and cloudy, this morning, though was much dryer and friendlier for out-doors exploration, However, not safe enough, for an Airballoon Ride, Infect for the 3 days spent in Cappadocia, sadly, no Air-Balloons, which is a colorful delightful scenery, were seen throughout the sky.
While on the bus, being driven we encountered the enchanting scenery of the region, and went through another Cappadocian quaint towns :
A popular tourist center which swells from 15,000 resident to over a Million tourists visitors a year, during vacation season.
The place apparently also dates back to Hittite times (2000-1500BC)
A few tombs left from a necropolis serve as evidence of Roman occupation. and of Byzantine occupation as related to Church of St Procopius, the saint after whom the town was originally named.
There are many fine old houses carved of the soft volcanic tufa stone, as well as boutique-hotels and cave Inns, clustered around a central colorful rock formations.
Also including the rock-cut churches and the underground cities, the town has a thriving wine-growing industry.
It used to be that Ürgüp was for upscale visitors and tour groups, and Göreme for backpackers, but that has changed. There are now excellent boutique hotels and inns in both towns, although Ürgüp does have many more of these.
Our Turkish co- guides Fuad and his wife Sevim, are resident of this quaint Cappadocian Town, which they have enjoyed living in. So at the end of the day, the town was frequented again, for last chance popular Turkish delights shopping
Göreme was little visited by tourists until the 1970s but by 2000 had become the tourist capital of Cappadocia. A well known village now, of around 2,000 people which its population swells magnanimous;y during tourists season, as it nests within the Göreme National Park.
Göreme is positioned at the heart of a network of valleys filled with astonishing rock formations, well known for its - peribacalar -Fairy Chimneys , the look of the colorful (Pinkish, Yellowish, whitish) eroded rock formations,
The chimneys are a result of a geologic process that began millions of years ago, when volcanic eruptions rained ash across what would eventually become Turkey. That ash hardened into Tufa, a porous rock, which was covered by a layer of basalt. Finally, the long work of erosion shaped the enchanting formations. many of which were hollowed out in the Middle Ages to create houses, churches (most painted) and underground cities.
Once an agricultural settlement, modern Göreme is best known for its flourishing tourism industry, its many boutique hotels created out of old cave homes and its :
hot air balloon rides, which unfortunately , due to the bad risky weather, this adventurous activity was canceled for the group during the few days visited here,
On Early Christianity in the Region
As the region was situated, from time immemorial, on the trade roots, it has seen many caravans, merchants and travelers, including Marco Polo (1275), passing through, on the roads from Far East to Constantinople, along with versatile merchandise and intellectual ideas,
In the 2nd Ad the first Christians/Jews who followed Jesus social ideas, within the Roman empire domain, were zealously persecuted by the Roman. The Jews and Druids were the 2 cults that talked about Heaven Kingdom, whereas only Cesar ruling Kingdom was legitimate. Thus those cults were rejected by Rome and were persecuted for 300 years mercilessly.
The rebellious Jews and ideologist Elite, who criticized the injustice experiences and suffering in the hands of the established rulers, risked their lives for the sake of their new religious ideas. They were first to have left the traditional Jewish community, finding shelters in remote Judea desert hide outs/caves and later created communities in few centers in North Syria and Egypt.
In 4th AD and after the initial Christian pupils disseminated the new concepts, Constantin and his mother Helena legitimize Christianity as an acceptable practice.
However part of the acceptable initiation into Christianity, was.joining the small desert like/cave austere hermit community habitation experience, that became popular also in the Cappadocian landscape, which was much nearer, then traveling to the Israeli Jeudea one. Many joining believers/monks who singled themselves out, by getting their training in the many monasteries and church created community of influence , and regulated the new religious principle in this new religion.
Christian desert Cave life style in Cappadocia imitated and resembled the original one in Judea dessert, along Hebron route. Also raising pigeons for their fertilizing extract used for agriculture farming, was the practice in both places, by the many columbariums remains.
The colorful religions paintings - scenes from the New Testament, left on the Capadoccia caves' walls meant to upgrade the inhabitants religious status, influence the illiterate masses, and in the process create an income to enrich themselves. in addition to the agricultural supply. Most of the left religious remains seen, are from a later period (9th-12th AD) those from Byzantine and Crusaders Christians who lived in the many monasteries built within this special Tufa rock cave landscape
First stop: Goreme Open- Air Museum
Unesco World Heritage site since 1985
It is one of Turkey's most-visited tourist attractions, where some of the best preserved rock-cut structures of frescoed churches and monasteries.
This large a Byzantine monastic settlement cluster, once housed monks, and then turned into a pilgrimage site from the 17th c. for its rock-cut churches, chapels and monasteries.
The varsity of painting contains many holy figures of which only fewer got canonized
There is 1th-AD Chapel of St Basil, dedicated to Kayseri-born St Basil, one of Cappadocia's most important saints, with a Maltese cross.
Chapel of St Barbara.which the belief says that Byzantine soldiers carved out this 11th-c church, dedicated to their patron saint,
Columned and nine-domed Apple Church with frescoes of biblical scenes
Snake Church also called the Church of St Onuphrius, where St George's ubiquitous dragon-foe is seen
Small Pantocrator Chapel and Nameless Chapel (İzimsiz Şapel) with their simple
red-ochre geometric decorations and Maltese crosses
A series of caves thought to have served as refectory and kitchen areas with a rock-cut table
The site's highlight which we indeed visited was– the Dark Church (very few windows) charges an additional entrance fee and no photography is aloud in any of the churches
By the 2nd AD a large Christian community had formed in Capadoccia , where the new believers Priests flocked into with the spread of the religion turning it into a lively center of Christian activity.
Exiting the Open-Air Museum,and crossing the road, while walking down-hill we paid also a visit to the rock-cave carved Buckle Church,
Tokali - Buckle Cave Church
Known as one of Göreme's oldest biggest and finest rock cut church in the region, the unfinished church is a tall, spacious cave church set on a cliff face, in the Soğanlı Valley, with an underground chapel and beautiful restored frescoes painted in a narrative cycle (rather than liturgical)
It is actually a complex of four churches and a hermitage, all dating to the 900’s. The vast interior features the finest mural life cycle of Christ accompanied by figures of saints among them Constantine the first Christian Emperor and his mother Helena to whom the legend assigned the founding of the church.
On the way to the next town, the landscape revealed were more mesmerizing
Avanos Town - Cappadocia Pottery Production Center
Situated on the lower level of Avanos valley, is one of the most important pottery production center (out of 3 in Turkey) an industry which probably dates back to Hittite times 2000-1500 BC. The local Ceramic art is facilitated by the great silt deposit quantities, provided by the the Kızılırmak -Red River by which its banks the town nestle.
Turkish ceramic art on its color and design was also influenced by Anatolian Seljuk architecture. The clay was always needed in the production of wine and oil merchandise containers.
Silk Road used to pass by Avanos town in the ancient times. Today, same route is one of the busiest trading routes and the town is also a popular tourist destination because of its attractive old town and riverside location
The river which formed historically the western boundary of Hatti, is the longest river flowing through Turkey proper. It is the same River that also morphed the magical rock formation of the Cappadocia's enchanting valleys.
Red River was mainly used for irrigation and fishing before providing also hydroelectric power. and tourism industry. Now a days, gondolas can be seen carrying tourists while jet boats drift in the upstream.
We drove through town as to to a famous Pottery maker and his lavish Ceramic atelier and Gallery, a structure carved in a massive stone on a hill just outside of Avanos town, from which the beautiful views of the old and new landscape, can be seen.
Second Stop : Chez Galip Pottery
+90 5358730202 +903845114577
Chez Galip. - a ceramic master, "colorful" character, as is his art, is known throughout Turkey, His wild hair-due resembles a bit that of Albert Einstein, as the photo in his workshop indicates. He demonstrated the creative process of the artisan ceramic production in his workshop, where he also trains in his tradition heritage, as well as lectures, and arranges classes for the new generation so as to pass on and preserve
this beautiful handicraft.
Galip is from a family of several generations in the pottery trade, who dedicated over 60 years to unique handmade ceramic art.
Following the speedy demonstration of a produced Tea Cattle, the group proceeded next to the huge Gallery, and show-room both, where Pottery collection, beautiful painted artifacts. traditional and contemporary are on display and for sale.
The landscape from the Pottery Hill
Lunch in Gureme's Center Since the restaurant book in Avanos for lunch, however strangely was mobbed stood the group up, the bus dispatched us to our own vices to have lunch at Goreme center.
David I, and French Madelaine enjoyed lunch at: Kebaozade
Third stop: Zelve Velley Open Air Museum
Until 1960 the village was made up of residential community inhabiting both the natural and human made formations, from which the resident farmers were forcefully evacuated by the Gov. after a deadly collapse of the soft rock stone occurred. They were moved to a near by modern living quarters maintaining their farmland,
The area has been one of the most important residential and worship places for Christianity between the 8th and 13th centuries.
While walking the marked trails deserted crumbling Tufa rock housing, in the old village remains of Byzantine art churches, Mosque, tunnels, can be observed.
Sites in Goreme on the way back to the hotel
"Last Supper" on this trip took place at this beautiful old stone structure restaurant.
named - Ziggi.
Ziggi, the stern sad looking restaurant's owner told me, was his dog's name who died, as did his wife, whose few pieces of her art work, he has been selling in a little cove under the restaurant, along with other local trinkets.
Ziggi's Shop & Cafe in Urgup-Nevshir
+90 384341 71 07 ziggy.cafe@gmail,com
On the last day of the trip (Saturday Oct 22) and after the fantastic tour and walk through the amazing WAJA hotel, (written about on Oct 21 here) , one last stone Fairy Chiming Structure's site was visited, on the way to the airport.
Pasabag Valley - Mushroom shaped Fairy Chimneys site
Situated between Avanos and Goreme. the site is also known as “Monks Valley”
It is a popular stone fairy chimneys area, looking like, a forest of super-sized rocky mushrooms, or inflated phallic images, (leave it to ones imagination)
The larger more durable condensed rock nested at the formation's top, with multiple stems and caps, landed the name. Millions of years of wind and rain erosion has worn down the soft volcanic Tufa leaving the harder capped rock behind.
Legend has it that the unique shapes were made by fairies ,who built their underground homes below the rocks – hence the name ‘fairy chimneys’.
On the way to the airport in the City of Keysari
Seljuk Caravanserai -Haan/Inn
This second largest Seljuk caravanserai structure inTurkey, is situated on the Kayseri-Sivas Road, Kayseri, A fortified way station along the trade route, one of many commissioned by Sultan of Rum- Alaeddin Keykubad in 1232 which is built of massive stone walls.(more here)
Kayseri City - Roman Caesarea Cappadocia
A large (over one Million inhabitants ) industrialized city (mainly furniture production) in Central Anatolia, once the capital of Cappadocia, situated at the foot of the inactive volcano Mount Erciyes (altitude of 3,916m m).
Kayseri was originally called Mazaka according to Armenian tradition and its name had changed few times until it was changed again by Archelaus (d. 17 AD), last King of Cappadocia (36 BC–14 AD) and a Roman vassal, to "Caesarea in Cappadocia" in honour of Caesar Augustus, upon his death in 14 AD.
Late afternoon and just before entering the airport, lunch was served at this Kaseri huge Turkish opulent restaurant, under an alongated snake like hanging crystal chandeliers, where humongous portions of food were served
Over all this trip was very well planned as well as fascinating, very educational and supper guided, by 3 seasoned guides, Sefi the Israeli one, being the most informative and best story teller., while the 2 others - local Turkish ones- husband and wife, were the most pleasant and service oriented.
The ambiance within the group setting, though, had a flavor of a somewhat oppressive conformity, with a division to "insiders" and "outsiders", supposedly related to the fact of those following Sefi trips for over 25 years, or being personally related to him and his operative partner.
Most of the restaurants chosen were less then mediocre, and out of the 5 hotels stayed in, 2 were superb, and the other 3 -just OK. Regardless, it is a very recommended trip.
Flying Back to Israel
Both flights , the one leaving from Kayseri at 800 pm connecting to Istanbul and the one departing Istanbul at midnight, were uneventful and arrived on time
However the real action started at the Israeli BG airport.
We landed at 3:00 am and when we were about to enter a Taxi to ride home,a
a life threatening Security Event occurred at the airport,
Suddenly all arriving passengers outside of the terminal, along with all Taxi drivers, were huddled back inside the terminals, by the security guards, where the doors were locked for about an half an hour, while the airport Police was chasing a car that barged in, without stopping, via the main airport's check-up gate.
So finally at 4:00 am, the incident was over, and luckily with no one impacted,
From the Whatsapp communications, apparently several other group's members
were stranded at the airport, as al traffic in or out was put into halt.
When the terminal doors got finally unlocked, we run out and were the first to get a cab, arriving home completely wasted-out, after 5:00am in the morning.
Only later in the day we learnt from the news that
"Suspected Palestinian car thief smashes through BG Airport entry gate"
West Bank resident, 17, arrested on suspicion of stealing car in Holon, then ramming entry checkpoint at BG Airport, prompting guards to open fire; no injuries reported" It was the second such incident in a month.
Never a dull moment in our country ....and a surprised ending, to a trip, that otherwise
was, calm, organized well, fascinating and most educational.
And there is always to see more....