When we were planning this trip, I wasn’t sure if we might have trouble filling in 5 days in Cappadocia, but (as usual) we left with great memories, lots of photos, and a desire to come back again to see all the places we didn’t get to. We had another fun day, and (if I haven’t said this already) highly recommend Cappadocia as a holiday destination.
Our day started early as we watched the hot air balloons from the lookout above Göreme (pics are HERE), and then had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel while we planned our day, and watched more balloons through the dining room windows. The weather hasn’t improved any – cloudy, cold, and intermittently rainy, but the rain never got heavy and the clouds do make the skies more interesting in our photos.
The iconic symbol of Cappadocia, seen on Tshirts, posters and all kinds of souvenirs, is a formation called the Three Graces, or sometimes the Three Beauties. Its popularity is evidenced by the large timber viewing platform and the gauntlet of souvenir shops you have to walk through to reach the site, but as you’ll see in the photos, it was still worth a visit. There is apparently a local legend about an errant princess who married beneath her status, and had a child. Her angry father was chasing her to kill her, and she prayed “Please, my God, make us either a stone or a bird.” Apparently God chose stone, and thus the Three Beauties represent the princess, her husband and her child. So they say …
Devrent Valley, referred to locally as Imaginary (or Imagination) Valley, contains some of the more unusually shaped fairy chimneys. Locals have ascribed names to several of them, but you are encouraged to let your imagination run wild. I suggest you look at these photos & see what you can imagine, before reading the captions:
The town of Avanos is on the banks of the Red River (Kızılırmak), Turkey’s longest river and called “red” because of the red clay used by generations of artisans to create pottery, which has been produced in this region as far back as around 2000 BC, the time of the Hittites. We tried to avoid the more touristy pottery shops, and found some smaller operations which still create hand made pottery using traditional tools. We had a demonstration, and then Sandra had a go at turning a pot on the wheel.
In Avanos we also visited Bazaar 54, a government funded carpet workshop which aims at maintaining the tradition of hand made carpets in the region. They supply looms & materials to local women in their homes, to provide an income and stop the loss of local cottage industries due to urbanisation. We were offered apple tea and shown lots of carpets and kilims which were available to purchase as well as some displays about carpet making traditions. It was fun, and we both took home a small carpet to remember our trip.
You might think we had enough of fairy chimneys by now, but Paşabağ (pronounced Pash-a-bah) is is famous for having the best collection of fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, so we had to go there next, didn’t we? Also known as Monk’s Valley, allegedly because of a 5th century hermit named Simon who lived there in a cave and only came down rarely to collect food & drink brought by his followers. You can visit the caves, now called St Simon’s Church, built in a fairy chimney with a triple crown.
Dining in Style
To celebrate our last night we ate dinner in the recommended restaurant, Dibek, which is in a delightfully converted 475 year old building in Göreme. Tomorrow we will drive to Kayseri to spend the night, so that we can catch an early flight to Istanbul. What a fun time we have had in Cappadocia, and with our friends – definitely up there as one of our favourite trips ever!