Posted by: David Stewart | June 14, 2013

Cappadocia – outlandish Turkish geology

This is part of a series of posts about our Spring 2013 trip

Derinkuyo, underground city

Underground city

Tuesday, April 23 (continued)

Our drive to Cappadocia had a couple of really interesting twists. We had rented a GPS-based satnav for the rental car. It led us successfully to the little town of Derinkuyu, where there is an underground city. This city was built by ancient Christians in the first few centuries of the modern area escaping persecutions. This city actually had 10,000 people who would go below-ground with their animals and hide successfully from persecuting forces. The surviving city didn’t have any furnishings remaining because the residents took their belongings with them when they departed the city. The city has 8 levels which wind down into the dark. There are tight staircases cut into the rock, with millstones set up to block the entrance in the event of invasion. The feel is like a massive human-sized ant hill. Really amazing.

Unfortunately, finding the cave city was a bit of a challenge. Our GPS was able to locate the modern above-ground village. But how do you find an underground city? Nothing pokes above ground to spot!

Finally above-ground, we started off for our goal of Goreme. But our GPS, who we named Jane, decided to take us for a merry chase. One of the turns ended up being a minor side road between villages, and then led up the side of a hill. Although the road must have been in Jane’s database, it was mostly just a pair of tire tracks through the fields. At one point, we could see drop offs on both sides of the car with no guard rails. We encountered a turtle in the road at one point. At some point, we spotted what looked like a more legitimate road in the distance and decided to disobey Jane and head for the road by dead reckoning. This got Jane back on the right track, but we still were led through the side streets of the small town of Uchisar, where there is a massive castle-like rock, our first exposure to the amazing rock formations of Cappadocia. We then wound past fancy hotels in Uchisar which hang off of the hill of the town.

Finally we came over a rise and got out first view of Goreme. We were pretty much blown away by the delicate “fairy chimney” rock formations, many of which have been hollowed out and turned into hotels in Goreme. We came into town without a clear idea of how to get to our hotel, so when we got into the center of town we asked at a market for directions. Fortunately, finding the Goreme Valley Cave House was quite easy, unlike several other places we tried to find in town.

The hotel is fairly new as a hotel – only open for about a month when we stayed there. But the building used to be the house of the family which run the hotel. This family has run a market shop for many years, and decided that the house really wasn’t being used. So they worked for months to renovate the house for use as a hotel. In the cave rooms, this meant tapping away at the walls of the rooms to remove the darkened stone and make it white again.

Cave Hotel room

The cave rooms didn’t seem to be built in an actual cave, but were built of cave material and might actually have been built into a cave. The floors were covered by Turkish carpets, and the rooms decorated with pictures and artwork from the local region.

Our host at the hotel was Ahmet, son of the family. He had excellent English skills, was very willing to help us, and was terrific. The mom of the family wins the local cooking contest and we agreed to have dinner at the hotel on that first night. We had a terrific vegetarian dinner, with salads, main dish and desert.

After settling in our dead-silent, cozy, wifi-enabled rooms, we slept very well.


There are more Cappadocia photos in this Flickr set


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