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The Silk Route - World Travel: Cappadocia, Turkey
americas asia & far east africa & middle east europe

Turkey: Cappadocia - Pigeon Valley, citadels, underground cities, Mustafapasa

October 2012

Pigeon Valley & Uchisar Ortahisar Underground Cities Mustafapasa
Cappadocia: Pasabag

 

Stunning Pigeon Valley, full of dovecotes, dark and claustrophobic underground cities, sky-high rock-cut citadels and a town of beautifully carved buildings.

 

Pigeon Valley & Uchisar


Uchisar seen from above Pigeon Valley.

This region is littered with fantastic landscapes. We didn't walk in Pigeon Valley, only taking photographs of the rock formations from above on the way to visit the rock citadel of Uchisar.

pigeon valley
Pigeon Valley

pigeon valley
pigeon valley
Pigeon Valley
pigeon valley

Pigeon Valley is full of dovecotes and many caves carved into the typical smooth rocks, but no Fairy Chimneys. There are very good views from pull-offs on the main road approaching from the south.

pigeon valley
pigeon valley

pigeon valley
pigeon valley
uchisar
pigeon valley

pigeon valley


uchisar

 

Uchisar Kalesi - Fortress - is Cappadocia's highest point and therefore perfect as a look-out and defensive position - the views from the top are fantastic.

Today's homes sprawl down its sides into the valleys.

 

pigeon valley
uchisar
pigeon valley

We parked on a street just below the fortress then walked up to the top.

Some of the houses are decorated with carved stonework, similar, but not as extensive, as in Mustaphapasha.

uchisar
uchisar
pigeon valley
pigeon valley

pigeon valley

pigeon valley
pigeon valley
pigeon valley
pigeon valley
View from House of Memories

 

 

On the way up we had passed the "House of Memories" restaurant and decided to stop there for lunch - a very good decision! Not only did we have great, authentic, Turkish food, but the owner was lovely - all smiles and breaking into song as he moved around the restaurant.

We sat on the terrace in the shade and took our time - perfect.

uchisar

Ortahisar

Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu

We didn't actually visit the fortress of Ortahisar but passed so close to it when ballooning we felt we had! The natural rock has been excavated to provide homes, now all derelict.

Derinkuyu
There's a rather ominous crack in this rock

Underground Cities

Kaymakli
Kaymakli

Kaymakli

Kaymakli

Beneath the surface whole towns have been carved out of the rock. About 36 of these are known, in use from the Hittite era around BC 2000 up until the end of the seventh century, often, in the later centuries, used as refuges by Christians.

Kaymakli
Kaymakli: a mortar
Kaymakli
Kaymakli

We went to see two of them, both south of Nevsehir, and I did not envy the inhabitants, a very unpleasant place to live I would think, and terrifying when under attack.

We were visiting out of season when there were relatively few people - it must be very uncomfortable to visit in high season with so many more people trying to get through the narrow passages.

Kaymakli is a very extensive collection of chambers connected by tunnels, some of them extremely low. Four levels, down to a depth of about 20 metres, are open to visit, though it is thought that there are at least eight levels in total.

Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu School: I believe the pupils sat on the long stone "benches" which are perhaps 40cm high, facing each other with their feet in the oblong well between.

Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu stairs


Kaymakli
Kaymakli - below is a stone door
Kaymakli

Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu Meeting Hall


Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu Baptismal Font

There are living quarters, granaries, wine cellars, shrines, communal kitchens with chimneys, deep wells and airshafts, serving a population of perhaps 4000. Animals were stabled at the entrance level.

South of Kaymakli is Derinkuyu, meaning "deep well", the largest of the underground cities currently known and extending for eight levels down to around 60 m, with the underground wells extending further down into the rock.

Derinkuyu

There are the usual living quarters, huge millstone doors weighing upto 500 kilos, communal rooms include a school and, lower down, a large pillared meeting hall and church. At the very lowest level that we saw, below the meeting hall, there was a grave hollowed out of the rock!

Very interesting and a great place to visit on a dull day. Two underground cities is enough though - for tall people the tunnels are back-breaking and the poor light hard on the eyes.

 

Mustafapasa

Mustafapasa

 

On our final afternoon we decided to explore outside the region towards the south-east of Urgüp. The highlight was Erciyes Dagi, a 4000m snow-covered mountain which grew gradually bigger as we headed east until we crossed over into a huge plain and turned south towards Yesilhasar.

 

Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa

A few kilometres south of Ürgüp is the village of Mustafapasa, celebrated for its fine architecture - it seems that when the people aren't carving homes out of the rock they like to carve intricate decorations into the walls of their buildings.

Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa

Once known as Sinasos it was a completely Greek village until 1924. These were a prosperous people, reflected in the sculpted decoration of their late nineteenth and early twentieth century homes.

Mustafapasa
Church of Constantine and Helen
Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa
Church of Constantine and Helen

Outside the Church of Saints Constantine and Helen the sign reads "I am a church of the most august royal couple Constantine and Helen. In the times of Sultan Ahmet I was entirely rebuilt. In times of Abdul Medjit I was adorned as befits me. And in the era when the renowned Paisios was bishop through efforts and expenses by the public of Sinasos. Erected from  its foundations in 1729, repaired in 1850".

Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa
Mustafapasa

Mustafapasa