Last Day in Cappadocia: An Underground City and More

Troglodyte homes in Cappadocia

Troglodyte homes in Cappadocia

After spending the night in Avanos, we still had one more full day in Cappadocia so we signed up for a mini-group tour with a tour agency in Goreme (Avanos is only about a 15 minute drive from Goreme). There would be some walking on this tour but nothing like we had done in the previous three days. Once again, the weather forecast was for H-O-T!

Inside meeting room in Derinkuyu, underground city

Inside meeting room in Derinkuyu, underground city

Our first visit was to the ancient underground city of Derinkuyu. This underground city provided a safe refuge for the inhabitants of this region when they were being attacked by outside enemies. The tour took us down a series of underground passageways as deep as eight floors underground. The design of the city was quite ingenious, allowing inhabitants to live for long periods of time without detection. The underground city even had accommodations for their animals. There are 36 underground cities in Cappadocia, with Derinkuyu being the deepest.

Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley

Next stop was a lovely hike into the Ihlara Valley. During the Byzantine period, it is believed that the valley housed more than 4,000 dwellings and 100 cave churches decorated with frescoes. Approximately 80,000 people once lived in this valley.

Frescoes inside church in Ihlara Valley

Frescoes inside church in Ihlara Valley

From the top of the canyon, the valley looks very similar to the steep-walled valleys of Canyonlands in Utah. From the top of the plateau, we dropped 100 meters down a long stairway to the bottom where we stopped to visit the inside of a well-preserved church with frescoes adorning the walls and ceiling. There are quite a few churches in the valley but we visited just this one.

Walking along the river in Ihlara Valley

Walking along the river in Ihlara Valley

Then we followed a well-worn trail down the valley that paralleled a stream. Large cottonwood and olive trees provided ample shade from the sun. Half way down the valley was a nice rest stop where they had WCs, cold drinks, and snacks. After walking a total of about 4 km, we emerged from the valley at a restaurant where we had a wonderful lunch of fresh fish next to the stream.

Lunch after Ihlara Valley tour

Lunch after Ihlara Valley tour

Dwellings in Ihlara Valley

Dwellings in Ihlara Valley

Our next stop was a brief visit at the Selime Monastery where we were able to wander among the passageways and rooms on our own. The last room we visited was a magnificent church lined with stone columns. We were told that some small part of a “Star Wars” movie was filmed here.

Selime Monastery

Selime Monastery

Inside the church at Selime Monastery

Inside the church at Selime Monastery

After our visit to Selime, it had been a long day and was getting late. We thought we would be heading back to Goreme. Alas, it was not to be: we had to make the “mandatory” stop at a jewelry shop along the way. These kind of stops are pretty common in group tours; I think jewelry and handicraft shops give kickbacks to the tours for bringing in their clients. We were tired and just wanted the whole thing to end.  After the jewelry store stop, we made two brief stops at canyon overlooks. By this time the sun was setting and the light in the valleys was quite magical. It was a nice way to end our adventure in Cappadocia. We feel like we’ve seem pretty much all there is to see here and we were ready to move on to new adventures.

Sun setting on Cappadocia Valley

Sun setting on Cappadocia Valley

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About Mike

I have a passion for adventure travel that began in 1989 with my first overseas trip: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Having never been to a foreign country, Africa felt like being on another planet; I knew then and there I was hooked on travel. Since that time, I have visited all seven continents and dozens of countries. I’m using the experience I’ve gained in planning my own trips to help my clients plan their own adventures through my adventure travel company (http://www.offtrailtravel.com). After working as a firefighter for the US Forest Service in California and Wyoming for three years, I moved to Durango, Colorado where I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in accounting. After graduation I moved to the Denver area where I worked in a Big Eight accounting firm to obtain my CPA license; soon afterward I began a career as an auditor with the Colorado Department of Education. My background in accounting helped me develop detailed-oriented skills that have been extremely useful in researching and planning my own travel over the years. I think this provides a unique asset to my clients in putting together their adventure travel plans. I currently live in Golden, Colorado with my wife Valerie, who shares my love of adventure travel. I’m an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club where I lead trips for club members and have taught ski lessons in their Telemark Ski School. I enjoy skiing, mountain hiking, trail running, photography, and astronomy. I take any opportunity I can get to explore new places, whether it’s on the other side of the world or just down the road.
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One Response to Last Day in Cappadocia: An Underground City and More

  1. Pingback: Exploring Cappadocia on Foot…video | Off Trail Travel

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