A year ago I hadn’t heard of Cappadocia, but during a week in September I became enchanted with its strange rock formations and houses like dwellings out of a fairytale. It would not have been surprising to see Snow White and her dwarves, or a knight on a quest, while Rapunzel let down her hair from one of the fairy chimneys.
We were based in Urgup, which was the perfect centre for exploring the surroundings as well as providing lots of shops selling antiques, carpets, jewellery and a vast array of dried fruits and spices, for those of us who wanted to return home with mementoes of our holiday.
Each walk presented us with new wonders; one took us through the aptly named Rose and Red valleys near Cavusin, where the strata formed ribbons of red, yellow and green, reflecting the iron, sulphur and copper in the rock.
En route we visited some of the many rock churches, several of which still had their Byzantine wall decorations. In one Musa, our guide, demonstrated the sliding door made from a massive stone to block the entrance. The decorations reached their zenith in the churches of the Goreme Open Air Museum. where the Tokali (Buckle) Church, with its bright blue background, reminded me of the frescoes of Giotto, and the Karanlik (Dark) Church, because of the lack of sunlight, has some of the most vivid and beautifully preserved paintings.
Most of these churches had been excavated out of the hillsides, and were approached by steps carved into the stone. By way of contrast, in the underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli we descended down tunnels and steps until we reached five levels down into the earth. It gave us an insight into how people survived in times of crisis, and the labour involved in excavating these towns.
There was yet more to see at the Roman remains at Sobesos Antique City, and also in the present day towns of Mustafapasa and Ibrahimpasa, with their beautifully decorated doorways and windows.
In Ortahisar our guide welcomed us into his home for lunch, and later for dinner. It would be difficult to describe the warmth of his family’s hospitality.
At the end of each day, if anyone felt tired after the long walks, there was the Hamam directly opposite the hotel to sluice off the day’s dust.
Capadoccia is a magical place, highly recommended, and I’d like to end with a poem by Crazi Ali, who owns an antiques shop in Ortahisar:
Will you come?
Come, come, come!!!!!
To the Wonderland of Cappadocia!!!!!