Jul 28

THE TOWN WITH THREE NAMES, ITALIAN MAFIA AND ANCIENT HISTORY – ALL THIS AND MUCH MORE IN THE UNKNOWN CAPPADOCIA (CAPPADOCIA)

The name Cappadocia derives from the Persian word Katpatuka, which translates to “land of beautiful horses”. That is because, since the days of yore, people used to grow horses and use them on their daily tasks, therefore there is a very strong bond between the people and their horses. And today’s horses are probably the best natural guides to lead you through the canyons and legends which linger like the mists of time.

Göreme, the place with three names

It was initially called Avcilar, which would translate by “the Hunters”. Then the name was changed into Maccan. Göreme name I was given 30 years ago, as it was considered more suitable to promote tourism. Translated, Göreme means invisible or unseen. The town lies in a valley, a natural “bowl”, being hard even to spot it from a close distance. Another interesting fact from where it received the name is that during the Arab invasion, the Christians were retreating from their path and used to hide in this “bowl”.

Hotels carved into rock

Older Turkish locals use the word “kaya”, which translates to rock when describing the basket-shaped rock formations; the youth have another term: Peri Bajas, which means Fairy Baskets – the “official” title, which is really not sure why, considering that it can be said that they have a rather phallic shape. So, initially called kaya, but with the tourist development of Cappadocia, this new term that does not accurately reflect their image was given to them – a simple new name was needed and someone chose “fairies”, go figure!

Also, the hotels located in the natural caves had a similar mistranslation. “Kaya” word was used again, which would have effectively be called “boulders hotels”, so completely illogical: no one wanted to visit a boulder; however, everyone wanted to check in at a hotel placed in a cave.

Could it be aliens?

People say that the geological formations of Cappadocia are a mystery. They even developed a theory backed by a history teacher, that they were formed by aliens. Yet the scientific explanation is quite different: the region was formed 3-4 million years ago, when a series of volcanic eruptions changed the face of the Central Anatolia plateau, resulting the spectacular scenery, including the forming of the famous ”Fairies”.

Private Properties

If you go through Cappadocia you will find that most of the land is owned and represent private property. The state has bought the essential tourist spots including the Open Air Museum and Paşabag, it also possesses most of the rocky formations but the greatest part of the land is owned by locals. Yet no fences, so if you get through vineyards or land pumpkins, remember that you are on private property. Without this to be a problem, however.

Monastic Life

In ancient times, the region was a huge monastery. Lifestyle was imposed by Basil of Caesarea, who encouraged Christian monks to gather in monasteries and pray together.

Alarm system

Many of the buildings that are placed on high places of the Cappadocia region, such as Cavusin churches, and the highest rock formations were used in the past as part of an alarm system to warn of attacks invaders: local people lighting fires on the rock peaks when danger was imminent.

The friendly City of Roses

Gulşehir – which means the City of Roses – is probably the friendliest city in Cappadocia. It is 30 km from Avanos and, unlike the center of the region, it is not very visited by tourists, which is why locals are eager to have guests. In addition, there are many beautiful places to visit, such as the Rock Mushroom, St. John’s Cave Monastery (with ancient paintings older than eight centuries) and many other caves which are believed – according to the local legends – to have monastery a lot of treasures that have belonged to the Italian Mafia buried inside.

Old and extremely valuable paintings

The main place of worship in the area of Cappadocia was Byzantine church Tokali Kilise. It still keeps some of the more well-preserved paintings from the Middle Ages on the walls, and that’s not the only thing about it.  It contains the finest rock-cut churches, with beautiful frescoes, whose colors still retain all their original freshness. It also presents unique examples of rock hewn architecture and frescos technique. The Goreme Open-Air Museum has been a member of UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984, and was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.

Photo source:

Picture 1: travel.india.com; Picture 2: commons.wikimedia.org; Picture 3: gulsehir.bel.tr; Picture 4: panoramio.com; Picture 5: egirdirakingazetesi.com.tr; Picture 6: fairylandcave.com; Picture 7: goreme.com

 

Jun 02

FLYING ON THE BALLOON OVER THE WONDERS OF CAPPADOCIA (CAPPADOCIA)

Cappadocia is really a great experience; some say even more interesting and exhilarating than a visit to any other European capital. Because the trip is sticking out of any pattern: a balloon adventure at 650 meters above ground, walks through volcanic valleys that make up the spectacular scenery and accommodation in a hotel carved into the rock.

Whether you’re in the bubble, whether you walk on the ground through the valleys of eroded volcanic rocks, the scenery of Cappadocia is spectacular and unique in the world. It is an area of volcanic origin, and the unusual shapes displaying their splendor in front of your eyes are the result of the erosion caused by wind and snow through the ages. After the first human settlings, people begun shaping the grottos and caves to adjust them to their needs and the area was preferred by the fore father of early Christianity, as hiding places for the hermits.

The area is semi-arid, harsh winters and quite persistent snows.

But what you can see and do more precisely while visiting Cappadocia?

One of the best activities is take balloon trip. Wake up at 4 a.m. and catch the sunrise above the clouds. The beauty of the place is doubled by this daily phenomenon; the scenery is filled with the sun-rays and receives their blessings while being bathed in astounding shades of pink, orange, gold and all the variations in between. And on top of all, you can see other approximately 100 colorful balloons starting to float above ground, filling the valley and the horizon just like in a dream-like experience. This is an event that you should not miss.

The balloon flight lasts about one hour and includes transportation from the hotel to the departure. A trip costs about 150-165 Euro per person, but offers discounts for large groups (20 people).

You get on the balloon around 5 o’clock a.m. Forget about your fear of flight, forget that you will rise up in the air at 650 meters, this will be a unique sight that will take your breath away in the best meaning.

You have to keep in mind that balloon flight takes place only at sunrise. A balloon escapade will provide you with a dose of adrenaline that keeps you “high” long after the expired time travel. And don’t worry; the pilots have two-year training before getting the permit, so you are completely safe.

Also, the air is cooler up above, but not insufferably cold; If there are 17-20 degrees Celsius on the ground, up in the sky the temperature is slightly lower. However the flame of the balloon will warm up the atmosphere.  The only recommendation is to wear a wind jacket with a hood, and maybe some lip balm and sunglasses. And the photo camera, of course!

And once you get back on the ground, you will see the wonders of nature and geology and lose yourself in this other-worldly landscape.

I recommend you take a good local guide that will tell you the fascinating history of the place while walking through valleys and erosion cliffs of volcanic tuff.

The main attractions in Cappadocia are the erosion valleys, such as Pashabal Valley – where you will admire the Fairy Chimneys -, Pigeon Valley, Devrent Valley / Rose Valley, Zelve Valley etc.

One of the most famous monastic settlement is Soganli Valley  and the stone-carved monastery in Keslik.

Other carved settlements are: the luxury hotels in Goreme, Urgup, Uchisar, Ortahisar castle.

Also, don’t miss Kaymakli, the largest underground city in Cappadocia.

One of the most unusual places is the Mustafapasa village worth visiting for authentic Anatolian landscape; it also hosts the Ethnographic Museum of Dolls – Bebek Museum.

Cappadocia will definitely be a unique and unforgettable experience.

Photo source

Picture 1: projectinspo.com; Picture 2: adventureworld.com.au; Picture 3: http://1080.plus; Picture 4: http://wtop.com; Picture 5: http://www.cappadociacity.com; Picture 6: http://www.nstravel.ro; Picture 7: http://www.belvuhotel.com; Picture 8: http://www.indiatoturkey.com; Picture 9: http://www.gagdaily.com; Picture 10: http://archinect.com