Also in Nevşehir, through the Deviant valley (also known as the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys) one finds the Zelve Open Air Museum.
Zelve is a Byzantine-era monastery that was carved into the rock, and was one of the last abandoned monastic settlements in Cappadocia. Inhabited until 1952, when people were finally forced to evacuate the sandstone caves, when the risk of erosion became too dangerous.
In pre-iconoclastic times, Christians moved to Zelve to hide during the Persian and Arab invasions.
Today it is a truly beautiful site to wander and contemplate the lives of those that made this otherworldly dwelling.
Or better yet, go see them twirl in their evening ceremonies!
Since the 10th century camel trains (originally kervan or as we now call them Caravans) would trade across Turkey; stopping along their routes at inns known as kervansaray or caravanserai – the Caravan Place. These buildings eventually grew form small accommodations and stables into larger fortresses that would be used as both inns and religious purposes.
Just outside Goreme is the Caravanserais of Cappadocia; where you can wander during the day or take in the traditional Dervish Dance. A anachronistic evening to be enjoyed with a just a few other tourists.
About 19 km from Nevşehir, hidden from view, are a total of 36 underground cities.
Built in the soft volcanic rock by the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, in the 8th–7th centuries B.C.; they consist of hundreds of tunnels and decent to as much as 8 floors below ground! Through the deep miles of tunnels, Kaymaklı was connected with much the older and deepest underground city of Derinkuyu. Currently only 4 of the cities are open to the public.
These cities were developed so entire populations could hide from the relentless waves of conquests that travelled through the Turkish passageway linking Europe and Asia.
Kaymaklı was used in the Byzantine era, for protection from Arabs during the Arab–Byzantine wars (780-1180).
During the XIV century it was used for protection from the Mongolian incursions of Timur; entire populations cowering underground as the hordes of Genghis Kahn rode past!!!
Even as late as the 20th century the underground cityes of Cappadocia served as refuges from the periodic waves of Ottoman persecution
As you pass through these warrens, you can’t help but imagining them bustling with life – as entire lives began and ended out of site of the sun!
Ballooning is one of the activities one must do in Anatolia, no matter how touristy you think it is!
There are a few companies, and they all work with the hotels. So it is better just to have the hotel organize the excursion for you. You leave at sunrise, before the winds have a chance to pick up form the sun.
An awesome experience in both beauty and photography!
Bulgur Çorbası – bulgur, tomato, onion soup – so simple sounding, yet so good!
When you find yourself in Turkey – you may be a bit confused with just how helpful and friendly the people are. Especially if you come from a “me-first” kind of city like New York 🙂
It took us a bit to really realize that the people were trying to be helpful and not put us through a ruse!! With that …
We went with Çem, the son of the Mustaffa owner of the Aydinli Cave House, to their second cousins restaurant Dibek Traditional Cook – which turns out to be one of the top local spot Göreme. It’s one of the places we would have passed by without glancing twice – as it is in a 450 Year old stable; and not much to look at from the outside. But like all good things in life, it’s what’s on the side that matters!
Dibek specializes in slow-cooked Testi Kebabı; a complete meal cooked in a sealed terra-cotta pot. The pot is served in its ceramic entirety, then broken at the table. For this specific dish, you need to make a reservation as it takes about 3 hours to be prepared! So worth it!!! There are a meat and vegetarian options, we chose the mushrooms, eggplant with tomato, pepper, patato, and garlic … my mouth is watering as I type this!
Other local specialties included:
Kurufasulye – oven cooked white beans in tomatoe and chili pepper sauce, topped with chopped tomatoes and green peppers sided with a perfect cucumber- onion salad.
Mantı – a surviving Ottoman recipe consisting of handmade pasta filled with meat or cheese and crushed chickpeas. Then steamed, and served topped with a yogurt garlic sauce and sprinkled with sumac.
Cacık – a perfect condiment of cucumbers and garlic mixed with yogurt, dressed with olive oil and mint.
We kept our dinner for the last evening in Cappadocia, and regret it a little. Dibek Traditional Cook is hands down THE BEST restaurant we went to during our entire excursion – and we shoud’ve had dinner there every evening!!