road to Nevşehir and Cappadocia passes
through Hacıbektaş, the town where Hacı Bektaş Veli
settled and established his Bektaş Sufi order in the 14th
century. The dervishes who followed the sect's tenets of
love and humanism were housed in the monastery which
includes a mausoleum and mosque. The complex is now a museum
open to the public. Onyx, plentiful in the region, was used
by the disciples of this order and has come to be called Hacıbektaş
stone. In town there are many onyx souvenirs for sale. It is
worth stopping to wander through the interesting Archaeological
and Ethnographical Museum.
a provincial capital, is the gateway to Cappadocia.
In the town itself the hilltop Seljuk castle, perched on the
highest point in the city, and the Kurşunlu Mosque,
built for the Grand Vizier Damat Ibrahim Pasha, are among
the remaining historical buildings. The mosque forms part of
a complex of buildings which includes a medrese, a hospice
and a library. An ablution fountain in the courtyard still
bears its original inscription. The Nevşehir Museum
displays local artifacts.
eruptions of the volcanoes Mt. Erciyes (3916
meters) and Mt. Hasan (3268 meters) three
million years ago covered the plateau surrounding Nevşehir
with tufa, a soft stone comprised of lava, ash and mud. The
wind and rain have eroded this brittle rock and created a
spectacular surrealist landscape of rock cones,
capped pinnacles and fretted ravines, in colours that range
from warm reds and golds to cool greens and greys. Göreme,
known in Roman times as Cappadocia, is one of
those rare regions in the world where the works of man blend
unobtrusively into the natural surroundings. Dwellings have
been hewn from the rock as far back as 4,000 B.C. During
Byzantine times chapels and monasteries were hollowed out of
the rock, their ochre-toned frescoes reflecting the hues of
the surrounding landscape. Even today troglodyte dwellings
in rock cones and village houses of volcanic tufa merge
harmoniously into the landscape.
a lively tourist center at the foot of a rock riddled with
old dwellings, serves as an excellent base from which to
tour the sights of Cappadocia. In Ürgüp itself you can
still see how people once lived in homes cut into the rocks.
If you wish to buy carpets and kilims, there is a wide
selection available from the town's many carpet dealers.
These characters are as colorful as their carpets, offering
tea, coffee or a glass of wine to their customers and
engaging in friendly conversation. If 'sightseeing and
shopping haven't exhausted you, the disco welcomes you to
another kind of entertainment. At the center of a successful
wine producing region, Ürgüp hosts an annual International
Wine Festival in October. Leaving Ürgüp and
heading to the south, you reach the lovely isolated Pancarlik
Valley where you can stop to see the 12th century
church with its splendid frescoes, and the Kepez
church which dates from the tenth century.
Continuing on to the typical village of Mustafapasa
(Sinasos), the traditional stone houses with carved and
decorated facades evoke another age. Still travelling in a
southerly direction, just past the village of Cemil, a
footpath on the west side of the road leads to Keşlik
Valley where you will find a monastery complex and the Kara
Kilise and Meyvalı churches, both of
which are decorated with frescoes. Back on the main road you
come to the village of Taşkınpaşa where the 14th century
Karamanid Mosque and Mausoleum Complex, and the remains of a
medrese portal on the edge of town, make for a pleasant
diversion. The next village is Şahinefendi where the 12th
century Kırkşehitler church, with beautiful
frescoes, stands at the end of a footpath 500 meters east of
50 km south of Ürgüp, is a picturesque valley of
innumerable chapels, churches, halls, houses and tombs. The
frescoes, from the 8th to the 13th century, trace the
development of Byzantine painting.
kilometres north of Ürgüp is the wonderful Devrent
Valley where the weather has eroded the stone into
peaks, cones and obelisks called fairy chimneys.
kilometres to the west, in the Çatalkaya Valley, the fairy
chimneys have a peculiar mushroom-like shape, which has been
adopted as a symbol of the town.
Göreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex of
rock churches and chapels covered with frescoes, is one of
the best known sites in central Turkey. Most of the chapels
date from the 10th to the 13th century, the Byzantine and
Seljuk periods, and many of them are built on an inscribed
cross plan with a central cupola supported by four columns.
In the narthexes of several churches are rock cut tombs.
Among the most famous of the Göreme churches are the Elmalı
Kilise, the smallest and newest of the group; the Yılanlı
Kilise with fascinating frescoes of the damned in
serpent coils; the Barbara Kilisesi; and the Çarıklı
Kilise. A short way from the main group; the Tokalı
Kilise, or Buckle Church, has
beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the New Testament.
The town of Göreme itself is set right in the middle of a
valley of cones and fairy chimneys. Some of the cafes,
restaurants and guest houses are carved into the rock. For
shoppers, rugs and kilims are plentiful.
on the road out of Göreme, you enter one of the most
beautiful valleys in the area. Rock formations seemingly out
of a fantasy rise up before you at every turn and entice you
to look longer and wonder at their creation. For those who
climb the steps to the top of the Uçhisar Fortress
the whole region unfolds below. Rugs and kilims, and popular
souvenirs can easily be purchased from the shops which line
Uçhisar's narrow streets.
Çavuşin, on the road leading north out of Göreme, you
will find a triple apse church and the monastery of St.
John the Baptist. In the town are chapels and
churches, and some of the rock houses are still inhabited.
From Çavuşin to Zelve fairy chimneys line the road.
Unfortunately, it is dangerous to visit the churches in the
valley because erosion has undermined solid footing.
charming town of Avanos, on the banks of the Kızılırmak
River, displays attractive vernacular architecture and is
known for its handicrafts. Every August the town hosts an Art
and Tourism Festival where a creative and friendly
atmosphere pervades. Pottery is the most popular handicraft
and it is usually possible to try your hand at making a pot
in one of the many studios. Rug weaving and knotting is also
making a revival. Leaving Avanos in a southerly direction
you come to an interesting Seljuk caravanserai. On the Nevşehir
- Ürgüp road you can't miss Ortahisar and its rock carved
fortress. The churches in the Balkan Valley are some of the
oldest in the Göreme region. In the neighbouring Hallaç
Valley, the Hallaç Monastery displays
decorations from the 10th and the 11th centuries. North of
Ortahisar, the Kızılçukur Valley is breathtakingly
beautiful especially at sunset. In the valley is the 9th
century Üzümlü church.
underground cities of Kaymaklı, Mazi, Derinkuyu and Özkonak
were all used by the Christians of the seventh century as
places of retreat in order to escape persecution. They fled
from the iconoclastic strife of Byzantium as well as other
invasions in these safe and well hidden metropolises. A
complete environment, these cities included rooms for grain
storage, stables, sleeping chambers, kitchens and air
shafts. Today they are well lit and an essential and
fascinating part of a Cappadocian tour.
of Avanos, Gülşehir has Hittite rock inscriptions, and
nearby, at Gökçetepe, there is a bas-relief of Zeus. South
on the Nevşehir road brings you to the 13th century church
of St. John, and farther along is Açıksaray where
the carved rocks hold churches and chapels.
of Cappadocia, over the mountains, lies Kayseri, known as
Caesarea in Roman times. The city spreads out at the foot of
Mt. Erciyes (3916 meters), an extinct volcano. In the winter
months the ski center has excellent runs for downhill
skiers. Close to the Byzantine fortress the 13th century
Huant Mosque and Medrese and the Mahperi Hatun
Mausoleum comprise the first Seljuk complex in
Anatolia. South of the complex stand the beautifully
decorated Döner Kümbet of 1276, the Archaeological
Museum and the Köşk Medrese, a
Mongol building of classic simplicity. A major Seljuk city,
Kayseri was an important center of learning and consequently
there are many medreses among the remaining historical
buildings. Those interested in this particular architectural
form should see the Çifte Medrese, the first medieval
school of anatomy and the lovely Sahabiye Medrese. Near the
city's bedestan is the restored 12th century Ulu Mosque. The
Haci Kılıç Mosque, north of the Çifte Medrese, dates
from 1249. Rugs woven in finely knotted floral patterns
continue a centuries old tradition. Local production can be
purchased in any of the town's carpet shops. South of
Kayseri, in Develi, stand three more important Seljuk
buildings: the Ulu Mosque, the Seyid-i Şerif Tomb and the
Develi Tomb. Nearby, the Sultan Marshes, the habitat of many
species of bird, are of interest both to ornithologists and
nature lovers. North of Kayseri, Kültepe, known in ancient
times as Kanesh or Karum was one of the earliest Hittite
commercial trade cities. Today, however, only the
foundations remain. Many of the finds can be examined in the
Kültepe Museum as well as in the Kayseri
the same road is Sultan Han, a caravanserai built by the
Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in the early 13th century
and a favourite stop for tourists.
the Nahita of Hittite times, lies in a valley flanked by
volcanic peaks and commands the ancient trade route from
Anatolia to the Mediterranean. Nigde's castle
owes its present form to the Seljuks, and the elegant Alaeddin
Mosque dates from the same period. From the 14th
century era of Mongol rule are the Sungur Bey Mosque and the
Hüdavend Hatun Mausoleum. an excellent example of the
Anatolian tomb tower. The 15th century Ak Medrese now houses
the Archaeological Museum.
kilometres out of town is Eskigümüş, a Byzantine
monastery and church with massive columns and frescoes.
These frescoes, which date from the 10th and the 11th
centuries, are among the best preserved in the region.
south of Nigde, was once a Hittite settlement. The town's
historical buildings include the Seljuk Alaeddin Mosque and
the Ottoman bedestan. Farther on, in the same direction,
Kemerhisar is the site of the important Roman city of Tyana.
A few more kilometres brings you to some Hittite ruins and a
Roman aqueduct. Most of the historical buildings in Aksaray,
west of Nigde and south of Cappadocia, such as the Ulu
Mosque, date from the 14th century. The Kızıl Minaret is
noted for its attractive decorative brickwork. Two of the
most famous caravanserais from the Seljuk period remain in
the environs. Just 40 km west of the city is the well
preserved Sultanhan Caravanserai built by the Seljuk Sultan
Alaeddin Keykubat, and 15 km towards Nevşehir is the Ağızkarahan
Caravanserai. The Melendiz River, at Ihlara, has
eroded the banks into an impressive canyon. Byzantine rock
chapels covered with frescoes pierce the canyon walls. Some
of the best known are the Agacalti (Daniel)
Church, the Yılanlı (Apocalypse)
Church and the Sumbullu (Hyacinth)
is another valley with dwellings dating from prehistoric
times. You can see the beautiful silhouette of Mt. Hasan
rising like a crown above the town. The valley's underground
cities, buildings carved into the rock, interesting
vernacular architecture, churches, chapels and mosques
embody all of the characteristics of Cappadocia and give
visitors a sense of historical continuity. A popular tourist
destination, Güzelyurt's hospitable residents, extensive
accommodation and restaurants ensure a pleasant stay.