Turkey Day 6 Part 1

Towering structures claw at the wide open sky as crowds make their way through the area to not only indulge in the amazing views, but to also be immersed in the Turkish culture. Away from the hectic cities those skyscrapers are not glistening buildings, but instead rock structures that tower over the area known as Cappadocia.

Cappadocia is a region in Central Anatolia and a known tourist site famous for its various rock sites. The area is famous for its structures made out of volcanic rock, which include houses carved into rock and the tall thin towers of rock that cover the area.

Along the way to our first destination, Güvercinlik Valley, we stopped by the road to take pictures of some volcanic houses, but the main attraction was the camel which we were able to ride. Though the ride was short-lived, as it was only limited to a stroll around the tour bus and back, riding a camel was something a person doesn’t do every day and definitely something I can cross off my to-do list now.

As for Güvercinlik Valley, I can understand why they would also nickname it Pigeon Valley. Flocks of pigeons perched near the top of the rocky valley and even dove down to the depths of the valley. Careful not to scare away the pigeons we were able to include them in our photo-op as they were precariously on the edge of the cliff. Though Pigeon Valley is most famous for its hiking trails, we decided to just enjoy the views it offered and leave the walking to the rest of the day.

Believe it or not the area of Cappadocia has been conquered by many kingdoms and rulers over ancient times. From the Romans and Persians, it wasn’t until Turkish clans started their reign that Cappadocia started to create its own distinct Turkish culture. The Zelve Open Air Museum served as a reminder that a civilization really did live within these structures of rock. The museum is among the earliest-settled and last-abandoned monastic valleys in Cappadocia.

At the Open Air Museum we were finally able to taste some of Turkey’s famous ice cream made out of goat milk. The consistency of the ice cream was more sticky and thicker but was nonetheless delicious. After enjoying some complimentary nuts and teas provided by the food stand, we made our way to another Open Air Museum that would give us more insight into the civilization’s way of life.

The most famous sight in Cappadocia is the Göreme Open-Air Museum, located in the Göreme Valley. It holds the religion’s best collection of painted cave-churches. Medieval Orthodox Christian monks carved the caves from the soft volcanic stone and decorated them with elaborate Byzantine frescoes. Most of the cave’s only source of light is through the entrance so it was a bit dark at times to see the beautiful drawings, but fortunately with some flashlights and versatile smart phones we were able to see colorful figures drawn so colorfully and with so much detail. Many churches were carved into the rock, but other caves that didn’t contain religious drawings were part of the Nunnery. The Nunnery includes a kitchen, dining rooms, and various other rooms. Even with volcanic rock as the foundation, they were able to create elaborate layouts.

Before lunch we stopped by a ceramics factory in Avanos, which is a town famous for the production of its earthenware pottery. The factory we visited was named Cavusin Seramik, and was a family-owned business that creates intricately hand drawn pottery. While we were able to see master potter create beautiful cups and vases, it was much more entertaining once Mrs. Suzie was pulled up to be given a chance at the pottery wheel. With some help from the master potter, she was able to create some very interesting pieces of art, some of which resembled a man’s more sensitive areas. Our group laughed out at the situation while her husband was left standing alone, sipping his tea, but still being a good sport during the whole ordeal.

The next portion of the tour led us to the room where the finished works are decorates and colored. The artists drew the designs one by one with thin paintbrushes and colorful paints. Colorful, geometric designs covered the plates and cups, one of which was the factory’s own custom design passed down from generation to generation. While the guide was showing everybody plates, he passed someone a plate and “almost” dropped it. I’m sure the person was shocked and entertained with the joke himself, but I am now sure that the act is a favorite in Turkey as I’ve seen it at least three times. Nevertheless more of the shock was revealed when we all stepped into the gallery displaying the factory’s most beautiful artworks.

Please , see more pictures in the  mid August magazine .

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