Cappadocia July 2013

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia of Turkey.  Ancient volcanic eruptions covered this region with thick ash which solidified into a soft rock.  These volcanic rocks in the area eroded over time by wind and water into hundreds of pillars and minarets called fairy chimneys, some up to 40 meters high.  People of the region carved out houses, churches, and monasteries from these soft volcanic rocks.  They even dug out underground cities where a few thousand of people could live there at once to escape bandits or religious persecution.

The closest airports to Cappadocia are in Kayseri and Nevsehir.  We stayed at the Museum Hotel which is the only Relais & Chateaux property in Turkey.  The hotel was meticulously restored and renovated from caves and ruins and decorated with valuable antiques and artifacts.

DSC01654View from the Museum Hotel

DSC01575One can normally see the hot air balloons every morning at the lobby of the Museum Hotel.  Unfortunately, it was extremely windy during our visit and the hot air balloon rides were cancelled everyday.

DSC01574Relaxing by the pool at the Museum Hotel.

20130629_201539Pool at the Museum Hotel.

20130629_125059Our suite at the Museum Hotel.

20130629_125016Our suite at the Museum Hotel.

20130629_125440Peacocks roaming around the Museum Hotel.

20130702_084229I didn’t know that baby peacocks are white.

Goreme Open Air Museum is a must for all visitors.  It contains the finest rock-cut churches and most of the churches and chapels here belong to the 10th to 12th centuries with beautiful Byzantine frescoes.  Goreme was a religious refuge during the early days of Christianity and hence the large concentration of churches ad monastic communities.

DSC01543Goreme Open Museum

DSC01540Church at Goreme Open Museum

DSC01552Goreme Open Museum

DSC01558Goreme Open Museum

DSC01560Dining room of the cave monastery at Goreme.

DSC01564Cave dwellings at Goreme Open Museum.

DSC01565Church at Goreme Open Museum

DSC01555Goreme Open Museum

Pasabag Valley or Monks Valley contains some of the most striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia with twin and even triple rock caps.  Hermits used to come to this area and build dwellings in these mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys.

DSC01519Pasabag or Monks Valley

DSC01520Pasabag or Monks Valley

DSC01527Hermit dwellings


DSC01529Pasabag or Monks Valley

DSC01531Twin and triple caps on top of fairy chimneys are rare in Cappadocia.

We went for an easy 3.5km hike in Rose Valley.  This beautiful valley gets its name from the rose-colored rock that varies in hue and intensity depending on time of day and seasons.  There are several cave churches and houses along the way.

DSC01584Selling dry fruits and nuts at the entrance to Rose Valley.

DSC01585Farmers used these pigeon houses to collect the droppings of pigeons which is an excellent natural fertilizer for the orchards and vineyards nearby.

DSC01597Rose Valley

DSC01612Forgotten rock-cut church in Rose Valley.

DSC01626We arrived at Cavusin village at the end of our Rose Valley hike.

DSC01628Cavusin Village is now abandoned and its residents moved to a new town on ground level because the rock structure was becoming too dangerous.

DSC01630Cavusin village

One of the more interesting place we visited on this trip was the Underground City of Kaymakli.  It is one of the largest and widest underground cities in Cappadocia with eight floors below ground organized around ventilation shafts.  The city consisted of stables, churches, storage places, wineries, and rooms where people lived.  Archaeologists speculate that up to 3500 people could have lived there at once.  It was built to protect locals from marauding armies and invaders as well as religious persecution.  Currently, only four of the eight floors are open to the public.

DSC01649Inside Kaymakli Underground City.

DSC01632Room after room like a maze.


DSC01638Winery area in the Kaymakli Underground City.


DSC01650The giant swiss cheese that is Uchisar Castle.

DSC01661Dinner with a view at Seki restaurant of Argos in Cappadocia Hotel down the road.

DSC01663Dinner at Seki restaurant.

DSC01658View from Seki restaurant

Located near the village of Mustafapasa is Keslik Monastery which dates from approximately the 7th century.  The monastery complex consists of churches, kitchens, sleeping quarters, and even graves, that were carved into the rocks by the monks.  Unlike many other remote churches and monasteries, the frescoes of Keslik Monastery are remarkably visible.

DSC01707Keslik Monastery

DSC01691Inside Keslik Monastery

DSC01672The beautiful frescoes of Keslik Monastery.



DSC01686This wheel of rock can be rolled to the left to cover the entrance to the chamber.

DSC01697Dining room at Keslik Monastery.

DSC01714Graves were also found inside the Keslik Monastery.

DSC01741There are hundreds of rock cut churches in Cappadocia.

DSC01771Pigeon Valley

DSC01762Pigeon Valley with Uchisar in the distance.

DSC01757Pigeon Valley

Love Valley is an area in Cappadocia filled with huge phallic shaped pillars that are naturally formed by the erosion of volcanic rock.  Erosion from the wind and water left only the harder elements behind, hence forming such an unusual landscape.  We did an early morning hike through the valley with the owner of the Museum Hotel and his dog Joe.

DSC01800Love Valley

DSC01795Love Valley

DSC01796Love Valley

DSC01802Love Valley


DSC01806Hike through Love Valley with Joe

Do visit the Sarihan Caravanserai and see a Whirling Dervishes Ceremony. The ceremony symbolizes the different meanings of a mystic cycle to perfection where the dervish spins round and round with his arms open.  Unfortunately, photos were not allowed during the ceremony.

DSC01776Sarihan Caravanserai

DSC01777Caravanserais were roadside inns along the silk road where travellers come to rest and replenish supplies  for their journeys.



Whirling Dervish light show at Sarihan Caravanserai.

Lamanai Oct 2014

As mentioned in a previous post, Caracol and Lamanai are the two most important political centers in Maya Belize.  Unfortunately, Caracol was closed during our

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