On the way to the centre of Cappadocia, around the village of Göreme, there are other not insignificant sites. The tuff not only shapes the region above ground, but also enabled people to create a “world of their own” underneath. Thus, over the centuries, not only cave dwellings and cave churches have been built, as we have already discovered in the Ihlara Valley, but also entire underground towns and cities!
We first try our hand at visiting a smaller and lesser known place, the village of Gaziemir. It quickly becomes clear, there have been no out-of-towners here for a visit for a long time. But as the “gate into the depths” is open and a boy offers us a little guided tour in Turkish, we venture down. There, our torches will have to suffice for visibility in the different rooms! The electrical installation no longer works. But this makes the visit all the more exciting!
More hustle and bustle and “infrastructure” can be found a few kilometres further on in Derinkuyu. The underground city there is a Unesco World Heritage Site and the largest cave city in Cappadocia open to the public. Over several floors we move through narrow tunnels further and further into the depths. Many discoveries later, we find ourselves more than 50 metres deep underground. Only a small part of the extensive corridors is accessible to visitors.
Dive with us into this interesting underground world and click on the following gallery:
The wind, which has accompanied us particularly strongly since our time in the interior of Turkey, also determines the planning for the next few days. We want to observe a special celestial spectacle. Every morning, weather permitting, countless hot air balloons rise before sunrise and hover over the unique landscape of Cappadocia!
The weather forecast for the next few days shows only one day when the wind is supposed to “stand still” and this is already the following day. So we head straight for a place where we can observe the spectacle particularly well and spend the night there. We set the alarm clock for the time before sunrise and go to bed with joyful anticipation of the following day.
Already the moment after the alarm clock rings, we hear promising noises penetrating the interior of our vehicle! The view out of the window, which was still covered by the curtain a short time before, gives us the first goosebumps. In the darkness, the first balloons hover, some take off from the ground or are filled with hot air for the launch. The burners used for this purpose light up all these balloons, whether still on the ground or in the air, conjuring up a colourful picture in the dusky darkness!
We quickly put on our jackets and grab our cameras. Outside the vehicle, the comprehensively beautiful picture of this morning is revealed. In all directions, near and far, the hot air balloons float over this surreal landscape. Every minute this picture changes and we can’t stop marvelling! 🙂
We tried to capture this unforgettable spectacle with some pictures. You can find some of them in the following gallery:
After a good hour, the magic is over again and the sun already bathes the landscape in a different light. But even without the spectacle in the sky, every corner here is more than worth seeing. We enjoy them on the following days, even though the increasing wind makes it more and more difficult and the gusts stir up a lot of sand.
So in the end we continue towards Eastern Anatolia. Our next dream country is Georgia, and we still have a long way to go!
The landscape has been very barren for the last few weeks and will stay that way for the time being. We drive mainly over high plateaus, which seem to consist almost entirely of stones and dust. Whole mountain worlds of sand and loose stones pile up next to the roads. Here we pass 1900 metres in altitude for the first time! Spring arrives here only hesitantly, we always seem to ride a little ahead of it. It is now the middle of April.
It is all the more pleasing to our eyes and hearts when the scenery finally and surprisingly changes: first the green on the trees is no longer so hesitant, then 150 kilometres further on the ears of grain in the fields actually shine bright green! Summer temperatures make us swap our thick jackets for T-shirts and shorts again and we enjoy a few days on a wonderful river in peaceful nature.
Well refuelled, we visit the mountain Nemrut Dağı. Its summit lies at an altitude of 2150 metres and has been artificially created by heaping up small stones. It is believed that the tomb of King Antiochos I, who gave himself the additional name “Theos”, i.e. “God”, lies beneath it. Without further ado, he also had himself depicted in huge dimensions next to deities such as Zeus, Apollo and Heracles: The stone figures once towered over 8 metres high on the west and east sides of the peak. This tomb or sanctuary was built around 40 BC and the ravages of time have left some traces – earthquakes and human hands have caused the heads to roll on one side and even more of the stone colossi on the other. Still, considering that the sanctuary here is over 2000 years old, the sight is truly amazing!
Visit this special site by clicking on the gallery:
From Cappadocia onwards, we realised how culturally diverse Turkey is:
People’s garments are changing towards the traditional, becoming wider and longer (regardless of gender). And now there is not only a head covering for almost every woman, but also for many men.
Cars and buses are no longer emblazoned with Atatürk’s portrait or signature, but with the words “Mashallah” (roughly: “God willing”) or “Allah Korusun” (roughly: “God forbid”). And the greeting changes from “Merhaba” to “Salam aleikum”.
We can delve a little further into this exciting culture in Diyarbakir, a city predominantly inhabited by Kurds.
And here we are – again: we are clearly no longer to be overlooked as Europeans and tourists, and we are gazed at vigorously on all sides. We are approached from all sides and the fact that, in addition to our dog Tenio, whom everyone wants to pet and hug, we quickly have a personal local “city guide” who proudly announces to everyone that we come from “Almanya” makes the hustle and bustle around us perfect. After a while we are in a “sensory flash” and retire. The next day, we set off again just the two of us and can walk through the streets much more calmly and buy some everyday things and even more deliciously special things in the market-like shops.
Accompany us through Diyarbakir in the following gallery:
Our 10 weeks in Turkey were exciting, full of experiences and impressions, very beautiful and incredibly diverse! We will always remember the friendliness and openness of the people here – it was a very special experience to be welcomed so warmly as “strangers”. How nice that feels…and how valuable it is to once again take on and experience the perspective of the “strangers”.
Join us in looking forward to Georgia, a country we have been looking forward to for a long time!
Chris and Sophia