Stuff I Know

Just stuff by me about me and my life, such as it is.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cappadocia Part 2

So if you are tired of wandering around in the snow (or heat in the summer) you can always get away from it by going underground. In the Cappadocia area there are approximately 150 - 200 known underground cities. Most of them are more of a village in size with maybe only three levels, but several are rather large with up to 7 or more levels below ground. These dwellings were dug out of the same layers of tuff as seen around Goreme.

The church inside the underground city. This area was thought to be a church.

It is believed that the early people of the area used these underground settlements to hide in and escape from raiders that frequented the area. The subterranean cities were also used by early Christians who fled to the area to escape persecution from the Roman empire.

Rooms and storage rooms. Rooms and storage rooms.

The underground city I visited was at Kaymakli. Now I have done my fair share of wandering around abandoned mines while living in the Southwest, so I am no stranger to subterranean travels, but I have to say, this city was really amazing.

A door. That roundish stone is a door that could be rolled in place to keep people out. It can't be moved from the outside tunnel, only from inside the room.

There are arrows and signs pointing the ways down and up, and without them, a person could easily get lost within the different levels of tunnels and rooms. Thank god for electricity. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in that place with only oil lamps and torches. In a word, wandering around that place was, neat.

A stairway. Looking up a stairway.

My only regret was that since I was traveling alone, there were several tunnels I didn't get to check out. I found a couple of tunnels that just kept going on, or down, into the darkness. I had a flashlight and would have continued further than I did, but the idea of never being found if something happened to me down there made me pause.

A dark tunnel. A tunnel into darkness.

I did make it out and then it was back to wandering around the tuff valleys around Goreme. George was my companion for this day.

George. Meet "George."

There are numerous dwellings scattered around the canyons. Most of them no longer have any interior artwork remaining, but there are a few exceptions now and then. An interesting feature of some of the churches is that they occasionally buried their dead right at the threshold. They would just carve out the niches and lay the bodies in.

Grave niches. Grave niches at the front door.

From inside. Inside looking out.

I enjoyed wandering around just looking at the beautiful scenery as much as climbing into the rooms and houses. The snow adds a certain quality to the rocks and pillars. I would love to see and explore the area again someday in a different season.

Eroding cliffs. The eroding canyon walls.

I hope you enjoy the photos from Part 2 of Goreme.

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The region of Cappadocia is probably one of the most visited locations in Turkey. It is known for its scenic beauty, history, and religious significance.

An over view of the volcanic sediments. The many different layers of volcanic sediments.

The Goreme (Göreme) area in particular is well know for the houses, churches, and monasteries carved out of the soft volcanic sediment deposited over the area approximately 9 million years ago.

Pillars, some with houses, in the city. Even today, some people still use the rock pillars as houses.

The rocks also naturally erode into spectacular winding canyons, large pillars, and intricate "fairy chimneys." The location is truly a sight to behold.

Some rather phallic pillars. A few pillars, and yes the phallic resemblance is common knowledge. This area is called Love Valley.

It may be a popular location on the tourist road, but if you go in winter, you can have much of the area all to yourself. Of course you do have to contend with a few difficulties such as less of a choice in accommodations, closed eating establishments, limited transportation, and the cold and snow. Still, I am glad I went during the winter and hope to go back some day in the spring or fall.

Probably the biggest obstacle for me was the snow. I could deal with the cold, but having to tromp through knee deep snow sometimes just wears you out. I would have loved to do a lot more exploring, but the thought of wading through more snow keep me to more well trod paths. Having your pants freeze while walking back to the hotel in the evening can be a bit of a pain.

Snowy valleys. In some areas, the snow was just too deep to try and walk through, though sometimes I did make the mistake of trying.

Even if you are a solo traveler, you can usually pick up a hiking companion from the area.

Spot. My friend for a day, "Spot."

I actually had to rescue "Spot" once when he fell into a hole and couldn't get out. After heaving him out, I was stuck in the hole myself for a while.

Church structures at the Open Air Museum. A couple of the church structures within the Open Air Museum. (I nearly died climbing down those icy steps!)

The Goreme Open Air Museum highlights a number of the churches that were carved into the rock. From the 4th through the 10th centuries, early Christians populated the area and carved numerous houses, churches, and monasteries into the rock pillars and cliff sides. The frescos in some of the structures are still very colorful and often very beautiful.

Frescos in one of the churches. Part of the frescos in one of the churches.

Part 1 of the Goreme photos deals mostly with some of the scenery around the city and the frescoes of the churches. Have a look.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On to Konya

Between the coast and Konya. A stop on the way to Konya.

As I moved on from the sunny coast to the snowy interior of Turkey, I realized I didn't really have much with me in the way of winter clothes. After all, I had just came from India. But I did have enough items to add in layers to keep me from freezing.

A mosque. The mosque from the back.

Dervish art. Dervish art.

Konya was more of a transfer stop than an actual destination, but it was still a nice visit. The city is know as the home of the Whirling Dervish. And one of its most famous sights is the Mevlana Museum, which is also the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi mystic and poet.

IMG_1986 The mausoleum with the green dome, an iconic image of Konya.

A sarcophagus. A sarcophagus in a museum.

There are a couple of smaller museums around the city that house various and interesting items. It was a quick stop for me, but I expect maybe in better weather, and during the time of local festivals, Konya is probably a pretty nice destination.

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