Fairyland full of good horses and fantastic frescoes

Cappadocia – famous for its spectacular “fairy chimneys”, hot air balloons and underground cities is also renowned for its beautiful horses.

Two of the beautiful Anatolian
horses in Cappadocia

It is said that the name Cappadocia stems from the Persian word meaning “Land of good horses” (the Persian Empire ruled Cappadocia from 547 BC until Alexander the Great conquered it in 332 BC).

If you arrive in Cappadocia by road, one of the first things you notice are the countless models of horses on roundabouts, median strips and along the side of the road – now you know why!

Just a couple of the model horses you see everywhere on the main roads of Cappadocia

Even today there are hundreds of beautiful horses in this region – many of them used for tourists to trek through the stunning landscapes.

There are many beautiful horses in this region

As we drove in towards Goreme we couldn’t help being bowled over by the beauty of the uniquely shaped rock formations that surrounded us.

We were once again bowled over by the beauty of the uniquely shaped rock formations

These strange looking and dramatic expanses of soft volcanic rock shaped by erosion into towers, cones, valleys, and caves rocks, took our breath away even though we had visited earlier in 2022 and seen “it all before”.

Camel rides for tourists

We were there with Jonathan’s brother and partner who had come to visit us in Turkey for two weeks. Unfortunately the weather on the coast was chilly with intermittent rain so we decided a road trip was a good alternative to a sailing trip!

A road trip was a good alternative to a sailing trip while the weather was cold and rainy

After we had settled in our accommodation we explored the delightful and magical village of Göreme which sits at the heart of a network of valleys filled with those astonishing rock formations.

The delightful and magical village of Göreme

As night fell, the place looked like a massive fairy land – especially with all the lights from the rooftop restaurants, shops and hotels sparkling in the clear air.

As night fell, the place looked like
a massive fairy land

A testi kebab was the best dinner choice – a mouthwatering casserole cooked for hours in a clay pot in a tandoor (clay oven). The seal is broken by using a small hammer to tap it open and as it breaks the most wonderful aroma wafts out of the clay pot – delicious!

Our “boat guest” going into dinner
A testi kebab – delicious!

The following day we spent some hours at the Göreme open air museum. We had wanted to go there last time we were in Cappadocia but thick snow and ice prevented us from driving along the steep and windy road to get there.

One of the rock formations in Göreme open air museum containing the remains
of a monastic community
Taken from outside one of the
cave monasteries – rooms with a view!
Another shot of the open air museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum has been a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1984, and was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey.

There has been some fabulous restoration work, we weren’t allowed to photograph inside this church but the photo gives you an idea of the fantastic frescoes inside!
Amazing to think people lived and
worshiped in these caves
Some of the most frequently featured themes in the frescoes in the Goreme Open Air Museum
Such magnificent colours!
Each church was very individual and had a different style of frescoes
Some had been restored to their former glory
Others were still waiting to be worked on

The museum is made up of a large Christian monastic complex dating from 10th – 12th Century composed of eleven refectory monasteries scattered around the complex – each one in a cave and with its own fantastic church carved out from the rock. Beautiful colourful frescoes adorn the walls in many of the churches.

These frescoes were complex with
really strong colours
Other frescoes were much more simple and probably much earlier
The view from one of the cave churches
This one looked very old
An opportunity to sit down and relax

Later that day we went to “Love Valley” which isn’t far from Göreme. This was another place we tried to get to last time we were in Cappadocia but prevented from doing so by the snow.

How does Love Valley get its name?

Love Valley is home to hundreds of phallic rock pinacles – hence the valley’s name! These huge natural structures seem like some sort of ancient homage to male fertility. However, they are far from being man-made – they have developed over the Millenia from eroded volcanic stone.

Ahh! Now you get it
These little “love jugs” were tied to various trees. Each had a couple of names on it – a declaration of love or a love charm?
Coffee time overlooking Love Valley

Later that afternoon we left our guests (who had unfortunately fallen ill with a nasty cold) to rest while we headed to the village of Uçhisar.

Situated on the edge of Göreme National Park Uçhisar is an ancient village built on an elevation and huddled around the base of a huge rock cone castle.

A view of Uçhisar castle from
the road to Göreme
The village is huddled under this
huge rock cone

The highest point of Cappadocia, the 60-metre-high ‘castle’ is in reality a maze of tunnels, passages, stairs and rooms carved out of the massive cone which from around the 7th Century AD was used to defend the region from attackers.

Rooms and passages are carved into the enormous rock cone

The glorious panoramic views would have ensured excellent early warning of any threats – you can see for ever across the surrounding countryside.

There are glorious views from the “castle”
You can see for ever across
the surrounding countryside
The amazing views views would have ensured excellent early warning of any threats

After our visit to Uçhisar we headed over to the other side of Göreme planning to explore the Rose Valley near the village of Çavuşin (which also boasts a cone “castle”.)

The “castle“ at Çavuşin

We arrived in Çavuşin in the late afternoon and followed a dirt road off the main square out of the village which led to a group of interesting rock formations that looked as though they could still be inhabited.

It looked like some of these rock formations could still be inhabited

We hopped out of the car and went to explore the caves that had caught our eye. The first one we entered was empty but definitely felt and looked like it had been someone’s home recently.

These were empty but they looked as if they had been inhabited until recently
No one at home here now
What a view but rather draughty!

Then we saw a notice that welcomed guests to step in and see a genuine cave house that was still lived in. Of course we went in! There was a central courtyard which contained a kitchen area with a tandoor (clay) oven buried underneath the stone floor.

The tandoor oven

Surrounding the courtyard were rooms going off on each side. One of these rooms was a reception/living room complete with long comfortable couches along the walls and a wood burning stove to keep the room warm and cosy on winter nights (which as we discovered on our previous visit are extremely chilly – we experienced minus 12 degrees one night).

The comfortable reception room

Other rooms included a nursery and various bedrooms. It was fascinating to see what it was like to live in a cave dwelling.

One of bedrooms in the cave dwelling

By the time we had finished chatting to the home owner who told us more about what living in a cave house is like, it was starting to get late.

Another of the cave rooms

Rose Valley would have to wait as it was time to travel back to Göreme to meet the others for dinner.

Dinner time!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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