Devrent "Imagination" Valley
Zelve Open Air Museum
Pashabagi (Monks Valley)
Goreme Open Air Museum
In the morning, first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley; walking in Pasabag near Zelve ; “fairy chimneys” where the voice of wind mixes with the “songs of fairies”. Lunch in Avanos, centre of terra cotta work of art since 3000 BC. and a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. Afternoon, visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings (10th to 13th century). Continue to the Uchisar Rock-Castle to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia. Return to your hotel at around 17:30pm.
also known as ‘Imagination Valley’, is the most surreal-looking landscape. This is one part of Cappadocia that really makes one feel they are on a different planet. Thousands of years of wind, rain and extreme temperature changes have worn the beautifully colored rocks into strange and wonderful animal and human shapes that make you think a modern sculptor has been living in the valley. You are wrong! You have just been introduced to the work of nature’s greatest artist, Erosion.
Zelve Open Air Museum was a lived in village until the 1960s. Cave homes were carved into the rock sides of the valleys at ground level, and much higher up were other carved shelters used as dovecotes in normal times and as safe hiding places in times of danger. A high-level tunnel still connects one valley to the next. Muslims and Christians lived together in relative safety, protected by the steep valley sides and the mountain behind. Their mosque and church stand side-by-side even today as a perfect illustration to the modern world that people of different religions can live in harmony.
Pashabagi means "The Pasha’s Vineyard", a name it received after the Byzantine Greek population left the region. In Seljuk and Ottoman times, it was called "Papaz’in Bagi" or "The Monk’s Vineyard" because Christian hermits chose to locate hermit cells and churches in these three-headed pinnacles symbolic of the Holy Trinity. Perhaps such symbolism helped these monks develop a greater understanding of God. This peaceful, attractive valley is famous for its three headed fairy chimneys, and it’s possible to see all the stages in the formation of fairy chimneys at this spot. The vineyards surrounding these natural wonders are still cultivated by locals (you can taste the grapes from September on), and trees such as apricot, apple, pear, quince, cherry, mulberry and walnut are plentiful.
Avanos has been famous for thousands of years for its pottery made from the red, iron-ore bearing clay deposited by the longest river in Turkey, the Kizilirmak (Red River). During the second millennium BCE, Avanos was inhabited by Assyrian traders and was later taken over by the Hittites; some of the techniques and designs used by potters today date back to this period. At one time every house had a potters wheel, and no family would give their daughter in marriage if the groom could not make pots! Today, the best of the ceramics and tiles on sale in Istanbul and other major cities are made here. You can watch potters spinning their traditional kick-wheels with their feet, and even try throwing a pot yourself.
Goreme Open Air Museum is home to the world’s most important Byzantine cave churches in these once remote valleys where monks and nuns pursued monastic life from the 3rd century on. Saint Basil, one of the three Cappadocian Fathers of the Church and Bishop of Caesarea (Kayseri) who first formulated the rules for monastic life directly influenced the lifestyle of the monastic orders in these valleys. Here you can see the best preserved in situ Byzantine cave wall paintings and frescos from the Iconoclastic period through to the end of Seljuk rule. Icons with scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament above portraits of Church Fathers and saints depict the structure of the Byzantine universe. The best examples, the Dark Church and the Buckle Church, should not be missed.
Uchisar Castlescape offers an awsome and surreal vision of the hightest point of Cappadocia with its rocky fortress and the surrounding fairy chimney rooms where locals lived for centuries. Esentepe Viewpoint is the best panoramic viewpoint from which to see Goreme Valley, with its conical cave homes set amongst the many hotels of the valley.