After the magical balloon ride, a nap was in order before being picked up by our private tour guide provided by Honeycomb Tours. I can not recommend them enough, they paired us with a tour guide who tailored the day to our specific needs and interests. In Turkey, to be a tour guide, you have to have a 4 year degree specifically geared towards tourism, which is brilliant because you can ask them questions about anything from history and culture to geography. We learned a lot about how the landscape was formed through the centuries of volcanoes leaving layers of various ash and magma on top of one another. He explained how the rock is different colors based on the different minerals found in sediment and how the rock has changed with erosion over time.
We went to the underground city of Kaymakli, the second largest of the underground cities in Cappadocia. Some estimate that up to 50,000 people lived in the city for up to 1 year at a time, but I personally think this is agressive. Most likely, a couple of thousand at most lived there for 2-3 weeks, just enough time to hide from the Ottomans as they passed through on their way to Istanbul. I didn’t get a ton of pictures in the city, there wasn’t much to take pictures of actually…
Living area, each family would sleep in one of those holes in the walls.
As we got to a lower level, we could feel a cool breeze which was being supplied from the air shaft, allowing people to breathe underground. They’re still not certain about how smoke left the complex, but some of it was absorbed by the rock.
Next we went to Sobessos, a Roman-Byzantium city that was discovered just about 15 years ago. They are still in the process of exploring the site, it’s been a slow process, but what we did see what pretty impressive. The city is from the 4th century CE.
Remains of the Roman bath
Tile floor of the city’s church
We also went to the village of Mustafapasha (once called Sinassos in Greek). The town was primarily a Greek village until after World War I when all Christians (who happened to mostly been Greek) were forced to return to Greece and likewise all Turks (Muslims) in Greece were forced to move to Turkey. So now the town is inhabited by Turkish people, but you can see the old Greek buildings, many of which are left empty still.
Old Greek Church
Because of my interest in religion (which the tour guide was also very excited about), we went to a couple of old cave churches with some particularly spectacular frescoes.
13th century (?) Jesus descending to hello to save those who are stuck there while stepping on Hades, he’s such a jerk like that.
Difficult to see in the picture, but here we have an example of an older mural (darker on the right) from the 4th century covered by a newer one (on the left) from the 13th or 14th century.
Finally, on the way back to Goreme, we stopped a pigeon valley, aptly named…
It was a great day over all, although extremely exhausting. I would definitely recommend a private tour the way we did it, just simply because you end up seeing things that you might not have seen on your own! Plus, you get the history lesson along with it!
Part 3 and the final installment of Cappadocia to come…