We started our tour by visiting The Tomb of Haji Bektash Veli, before going to Ürgüp Teachers’s Lounge where we would stay. Haji Bektash Veli, one of the Muslim mystics of the 13th century, established this social complex. The building inside it, have taken their current form after some renovations. There is furniture and some goods in the rooms of the complex representing the life style at the Bektashi Sufi convent. The thing that impressed me most was his quotes, which can carry meaning for almost anybody.
We didn’t spend too much time at Avanos, which is famous for its earthenware pottery. We took a short walk along Kızılırmak (Red River),checked out a few antique shops, and had a chat with the shopkeepers. You can also try your hand at pottery at the pottery houses.
From Avanos we went to Zelve Valley. As we had been very excited and meticulous about our plans for this journey for days, I can say without any exaggeration that we climbed and went in every cave that we saw. In most of the caves you see early Christian depictions. These depictions which are very common at Cappadocia were painted by the early Christians hiding in the caves. Later this place was also used as a village by the Muslims, there is even a mosque.
Derinkuyu Underground City was our next stop. This is the biggest and the most famous underground city of the region. It’s quite a surprise with its narrow passages and tiny chambers. You can’t help but feel like a kid in a playground, but it also it forces you to fall into deep thoughts. Just like my husband said: “Man can do anything to stay alive.” You clearly feel the gravity of where you are in the underground city. It’s not a movie set or anything.
The first place you must visit is Göreme Open Air Museum. You need a ticket to enter. It is immediately apparent that these cave churches and living spaces were better kept than the other ones in Cappadocia.
Sometime later, when the fatigue kicked in, we gave up climbing every cave that we saw, but even breathing that magical air was worth it.
One of the most impressive sights of the area is Ihlara Valley which is a little outside of Cappadocia. In Cappadocia, the sights are mostly close to each other, and between the important centers, you can even come across different sized caves, fairy chimneys, and souvenir shops on the road. Don’t do what we did, and just pop in to Ihlara Valley when you pass by; go early in the morning and spare the whole day for it. Entrance is once again by ticket. You descend into the valley via a long staircase, and as we descended we felt our mood change. Surrounded by all the shades of green, as soon as you check out the valley below you feel that you are in a very special place. Melendiz River flows through the valley, and on both sides of the river there are church caves. As we didn’t have much time, we couldn’t go on but we heard that just a little ahead there was another entrance to the valley, and on the road between the two there were cafés where you can rest and grab a bite. Another option is preparing a little picnic for yourselves to bring in your backpack.
It’s easiest to travel between the scattered sights by car, so if you don’t travel to the city by car, I recommend hiring one on arrival. Having your own transport will give you the flexibility to enjoy the sights at your own pace.
I also recommend comfortable clothing and shoes for your trip; a hat is also a must.
Including the places I mentioned above that you need to buy a ticket to enter, we used our Müzekart+ (I don’t know the difference between Müzekart and Müzekart+ but it’s easy to find out) and enjoyed the advantages of it. Entrance to everywhere we visited was free of charge with the card, so I advise you to get one after a little research.
Pack your bag and hit the road, take as few things as possible with you, keep it simple. Get ready for the yellow horizons and the mystic dusty roads. Cappadocia awaits.