Monday, September 23, 2013

Turkey - Capaddocia (2004)

Date of visit: 22nd November 2004

The snow was heavily flooded the city a night before and we woke up to a white serene view, which we took a short opportunity for photos. It is about 233km to reach Capaddocia open air museum in Goreme and natural fortress in Uchisar from Konya. We missed the opportunity to ride a Hot Air Balloon to see the overall view of Goreme valley, a famous activity when in Cappadocia. Nevertheless, we covered other most important towns and destinations in Cappadocia i.e. Goreme, Ihlara Valley and the underground cities worth seeing in Ozkanak. 

Photo with Ainoon's 2 kids in front of the hotel before heading to Goreme
Wake-up on 22nd Nov to this view, a bliss!

Declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984, seen from its entrance Göreme open-air museum makes for an amazing view, with its tuff peaks and chimneys properly cut to create churches. Goreme is a district of the Nevsehir ProvinceThe complex contains more than 30 carved-from-rock churches and chapels, some having superb frescoes inside, dating from the 9th century to the 11th century.

At the start point of exploring the huge museum, said to be 365 days church of Cappadocia

After the eruption of Mount Erciyes about 2,000 years ago, ash and lava formed soft rocks in the Cappadocia Region, covering a region of about 20,000 km2. The softer rock was eroded by wind and water, leaving the hard cap rock on top of pillars, forming the present-day fairy chimneys. People of Göreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia Region, realized that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries. These Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantines from the post of image breaking period. These frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from this period.

Cappadocia is a renowned historical region in Central Anatolia. In the time of Herodotus (Greek ancient historian, famously known as father of the history), the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates and the Armenian Highland, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia (all of ancient territory).

Apart from the museum, we had an opportunity of passing by the fairy chimney's rock formation seated nearby of the Gerome area. We did not stop by but merely had appreciate the views from the heated bus. We stopped at Ulchisar, which is situated at the highest point in Cappadocia, on the Nevsehir-Goreme road, just 5 km from Goreme. The top of the Uchisar Castle, provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area with Mount Erciyes in the distance.

Zuri snapped this photo with our Turkish tour guide

The famous Ulchisar castle is very different from the castles that you may have visited in Turkey, way out in comparison of Topkapi Palace. It has many rooms hollowed out into the rock which are connected to each other with stairs, tunnels and passages. At the entrances of the rooms, there are millstone doors, just like the ones in the underground settlements, used to control access to these places. Due to the erosion in places of this multi-leveled castle, it is unfortunately not possible to reach all the rooms. Most of the rooms, located on the north side of the castle are in use as pigeon houses today. Farmers used these cave pigeon houses to collect the droppings of pigeons which is an excellent natural fertilizer for the orchards and vineyards.

Among few photos in Ulchisar

After a visit in Ulchisar, the tour guide had arrange a visit to the carpet factory as 1 of their programme to attract us to buy carpet. So, again in here, I did purchased a Turkish carpet in pink colour and was given a certificate from the factory. By noon time, we stopped at a restaurant nearby to the carpet factory. The meals and the ambience were great to warm our bodies. Below photo was the place where we stopped for lunch that day.

Cappadocia also contains several underground cities, largely used by early Christians as hiding places before Christianity became an accepted religion. The underground cities have vast defence networks of traps throughout their many levels. These traps are very creative, including such devices as large round stones to block doors and holes in the ceiling through which the defenders may drop spears. These defense systems were mainly used against the Romans. Below photo was snapped at the kitchen area of the underground city.

The tunnel system also was made to have thin corridors for the Roman fighting strategy was to move in groups which was not possible to do in the thin corridors making it easy to pick them off. The Cappadocian Fathers of the 4th century were integral to much of early Christian philosophy. It also produced, among other people, another Patriarch of Constantinople, John of Cappadocia. For most of the Byzantine era it remained relatively undisturbed by the conflicts in the area with the Sassanid Empire, but was a vital frontier zone later against the Muslim conquests. From the 7th century, Cappadocia was divided between the Anatolic and Armeniac themes. In the 9th–11th centuries, the region comprised the themes of Charsianon and Cappadocia.

We were heading straight to Ankara after visiting the underground cities in a very bad weather and heavy traffic jam due to snows block. Will continue next with Ankara activities.

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