Just as Istanbul, we have our local alarm clock here--morning call to prayer woke us at 5:31. It's not quite as loud as Istanbul--but still there's no sleeping through it. But that was fine with us--we had a very good nights sleep, and we had a fun day planned for today!
We started with a nice breakfast at our hotel--included in the bargain price of $70. a night. What a find this place is! Breakfast was quite a spread with a nice variety to choose from, including some interesting breakfast options such as pickles and olives! I enjoyed a hard boiled egg and a yummy fruit bowl with some nuts added. The best part of breakfast was the view from the terrace. We are really enjoying this quaint village:
The view over the small town of Goreme:
Destination: Derinkuyu Underground City.
We drove through a small town, and pulled up to a tiny square--it didn't look like much from the outside, but wow--it was amazing once we got inside!
According to the Turkish Department of Culture, Derinkuyu was first carved out of soft volcanic rock and inhabited in 7th - 8th century B.C. Some later artifacts found in the city belong to the Middle Byzantine Era, 5th-10th century A.D. During this time it is thought these cities were used as hiding places by early Christians fleeing religious persecution by the Romans.
This underground city is the largest of the many underground cities in the Cappadocia region. It has 11 levels, eight of which we were able to visit today. They estimate the city could accommodate up to 20,000 people! The design and structure of the city is quite ingenious, with several ventilation shafts, wells, many food storage and preparation areas, stables for small animals, and chapels. Miles of long tunnels connect Derinkuyu to other nearby underground cities.
Here's a cross-section illustration of the design:
The entrance was sealed off by a large stone wheel that could be rolled into place and "locked". Here's an image I found on the web--we didn't get a picture, darn it!
We walked down many narrow passageways, some quite steep:
One of the areas we saw was a burial chamber, excavations have revealed that the corpses were "stacked", with layers of earth between them:
One of the MANY long, narrow and winding tunnels:
This is a pretty bad photo--but it shows just how narrow the tunnels are. We did a lot of hunched over walking!
This was interesting--they had a very clever "wine delivery system"! The grapes were pressed in another area, then flowed through the trough (middle of picture--protruding from the side wall), then flowed into urns which were placed in the hole (now covered by the grate). Clever!
We spent about an hour exploring--it was fascinating! We came out in a slightly different area, and of course there were the ever present tourist shopping opportunities:
There was man selling simet, calling "simet, simet" in deep, loud voice:
An intersting church near the exit. I'm pretty sure it's not a mosque--no minarets. But notice the domes. I meant to ask Mustah about it, but forgot:
We all piled back into the van, there was lots of excited chatter about what we'd just seen. Everyone seemed to just as amazed as we were!
We continued our drive through the Cappadocia countryside, driving though a few small towns and even smaller villages. About an hour later, we pulled up to the entrance to the Ihlara Valley:
It was quite a view from the entrance! Just look down (waaaay down!) into that pretty valley:
David along the pretty hike:
We had a couple of choices of main dishes, here's Davids beef with rice. It was cooked in a heavy stone "casserole" dish--and was very tasty! I wanted to take those heavy dishes with me, but David talked me out of it.......................
Our bus was waiting for us right at the restaurant, and after our lunch we had a longer drive, about 1 hr 10 minutes to our next stop-- THE SELIME CATHEDRAL, 9-11c AD. In later centuries it was used as a carravan stop along The Silk Road, which is very near here. There were carravan stops scattered along the route a certain distance apart. To be precise--the distance was how far a camel can travel in one day!
This was, by far, our very favorite place of the day! It was a very steep, difficult and scary climb to the top--but I did it! I just channeled my Inner Jake Tuttle, and kept repeating to myself: "I am my father's daughter, I can do this!" My dad could (and still can) climb anything--he's like a mountain goat! I may have just one teeny-tiny part of that gene. Thanks, Dad!
Here we are, about half way up--the first part was pretty easy:
Then it got a little steeper:
At least I couldn't fall over here!
Almost to the top-nice view:
David climbed up a very steep tunnel to a second story in one of the caves:
Here he is coming out:
Just one of the many cave rooms:
This was the most interesting "room", with lots of arches and columns:
At the entrance to this room:
I really wanted to climb over to this peak--but it was always too crowded:
One of the caves--lots of carved niches:
He carefully wrapped a large napkin around the bottom of the very hot pot, and quickly hit it with a hammer--the top came off perfectly!
Here's my delicious lamb pot--it was so good I finished every bite:
After our relaxing dinner, it was a short walk back to our hotel, and the view along the way just doesn't get much better than fairy chimneys at night: