Goreme Open Air Museum

I’ve been busy the last couple of days. I’ve been touring around Cappadocia. Late last night, I returned to Istanbul. Today I decided to take a little bit of a break. Tomorrow will start another week of early mornings and long days as I head off into Africa. 🙂

On arrival in Cappadocia, I was loaded into a van with a few other world travelers. One man from Chile, one from Malaysia, one from the Netherlands and a couple of couples from other places in Turkey. We were going on the ‘Red Tour” today.

In addition to the weird and other worldly landscape of the area, the most interesting part (to me) was the Goreme Open Air Museum. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and definitely worth a visit.

The museum showcases an ancient religious center, full of rock carved dwellings, churches, monasteries, nunneries, etc. Our tour guide Vaysi was very good. He explained everything in English and Turkish (and sometimes Spanish for the Chilean guy). Vaysi also speaks Chinese and Portuguese if you’re interested. 😉

I was impressed with the frescos. Many of the churches had frescos of Jesus Christ, the Saints, and many of the important events from the Bible. Plenty of them are still vibrant after thousands of years. Too bad they don’t allow photography inside most of the caves (they worry about the flash harming the frescos and don’t want to deal with separating out those who don’t have flash on their cameras- people like me). 😦

 

It was amazing how the people managed to build all these places so long ago.

The entire area is covered in hundreds of meters of volcanic ash, some of it is ‘tuff’. Tuff is a soft, easily carved stone. The people in this area have been making use of this property for millennia. They’ve carved homes, churches, even entire cities out of the stone. Some people still live in the ‘cave houses’. The hotel I stayed in had rooms carved out of the rock (mine wasn’t one of those).

I wondered how they managed to climb up and down so high every day. How did they get their food and water and everything else they needed all the way up to those caves? Personally I found it exhausting just walking around to the lower ones. We spent a couple of hours exploring the highlights. There was a lot more to see if you wanted to spend all day wandering around.

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