Join us to uncover the geographical wonders of Turkey. In just a week you will explore the unique UNESCO World Heritage sites of Cappadocia where monasteries, temples and homes have been carved into the rock in extraordinary honeycombed complexes, and also intricate underground settlements like at Derkinuyu. We will study the influence of landscape and geography on the culture, history and religion of human beings, demonstrated by the Byzantine churches built into rock formations, and monasteries hidden down secret pathways leading into the earth. How does nature and our surroundings interact and shape our beliefs? We will discuss this and see whether it can be applied to our own culture. Surrounding Cappadocia are some stunning valleys shaped by millennia of erosion and volcanic activity, where sleepy villages carry on their way of life, mostly unchanged for generations. We will hike through them and explore this rural area of Turkey, far away from the buzz and noise of the big cities where the modern population are looking to move away from their ancient roots, traditionally tied to this land.
Today our exciting adventure begins as we are greeted at the airport in Kayseri (or Ankara) by a friendly local team from World Expeditions and driven to the group hotel in Cappadocia. With its wonderfully unique landscapes and ancient culture, arriving in this region of Turkey can sometimes feel like visiting a set from Star Wars, yet it is much more interesting as it is real! Wind, rain and frost have sculpted this superb scenery into the volcanic rock over millions of years. The region is largely underlain by sedimentary rocks formed in lakes and streams, and ignimbrite deposits erupted from ancient volcanoes. The rocks have eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and forms, many of them inhabited over hundreds of years, and shaped by the local people. After a group meeting to discuss the tour we will have an explore around the local town before enjoying a hearty dinner to celebrate our arrival and enjoy some delicious Turkish cuisine.
After breakfast we will set out to explore the beautiful Uzengi & Pancarlik Valleys on foot. We will hike up onto a plateau offering a magnificent view on the Uzengi valley stretching out below, before continuing on to the Pancarlik valley in order to see the numerous cones and fairy chimneys decorating our path. We will pass the Kepez and Sarica churches along the way and appreciate their unique architecture, unseen anywhere else in the world.
Following the trail we arrive at Ortahisar village, famous for its friendly inhabitants, picturesque stone houses, narrow streets and lovely churches as well as the castle like rock formation after which the town is named. We will then drive to the Kiliclar (Sword) Valley, one of the smallest valleys in Cappadocia with many interesting fairy chimneys and ruins. Sword Valley is known for its fantastic views of Cappadocia; on the road to Goreme there are tracks where it is possible to explore abandoned caves which were homes of past citizens in this region.
(Hiking approximately 4 hours)
Early this morning we will drive to the settlement Ihlara, suituated next to a dramatic gorge carved into the volcanic roack. Along the way we will pay a special visit to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu. The extraordinary underground city is approximately 85m deep and contains stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches and wineries. In addition it has a large space with a barrel vaulted ceiling on the second floor which served as a missionary school, with study rooms leading off it.
After this hopefully very interesting experience, we will continue to Ihlara Valley; a 14 km long canyon with hundreds of rock cut rooms and churches. This valley proved to be an ideal place for Monks to worship in tranquil seclusion, as well as provide a safe hideaway and place of defence during times of invasion. There are numerous dwellings, some of which are connected by tunnels and corridors. The decorations in the churches date from the 6th to the 13th centuries. The most well-known temples are the Agacalti Church, Sümbüllü Church, Pürenliseki Church, Kokar Church, Yilanli Church, Karagedik Church, Kirkdamatli Church, Direkli Church, Ala Church, Kemerli Church and Egritas Church. After having Lunch in Belisirma village we will drive to Selime to visit the Selime Monastery. A visit to this complex of buildings on a steep mountain slope is a must in the region, as the pillars, columns and honeycomb rooms illustrate the sophistication and dedication of the monks who lived here, building their monastery into the heart of the land they lived in. Later this afternoon we will head back to the hotel to freshen up before enjoying dinner in a local restaurant.
(Walking/Hiking approximately 3 hours)
The Christians who lived here in the heart of the Cappadocia realized that the soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries. These Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of unique Byzantine art from the post iconoclastic period. The frescoes inside the Goreme Open Air Museum are a stunning artistic achievement and a testament to their creativity and devotion.
After visiting the Goreme open air Museum we start our hike through the Meskendir Valley. We follow the path past old cave houses and complexes from the early Christian civilization. From the Meskendir Valley we will cross over to the Red Valley, the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia with spectacular formations and a rainbow geological colours. In the Red Valley it is possible, depending on walking pace and time, to visit some hidden churches like the Uzumlu church (Grape church / Red Valley), the hidden Cross Church and the Church of the Three Crosses (Rose Valley). The decorative reliefs and frescoes were added in the 10/11th Century. After walking through the Red and Rose valleys we will arrive in Cavusin, where our vehicle is waiting for us. In the evening there is an optional chance to view a show of the whirling Dervishes of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi Sema is the inspiration of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, as well as part of Turkish custom, history, belief and culture. The Sema ceremony represents a mystical journey through mind and love towards a representation of perfection.
After breakfast we will drive to the trailhead point at the beginning of the Akvadi (The White Valley). We will walk along this valley following an old river bed, used today by local farmers for vineyards.
At noon we will arrive into sleepy Uchisar to visit the elevated viewpoint known as “The fortress”. Many rooms are hollowed into the Rock and are connected to each other with stairscases, tunnels and weaving passages. The top of the Citadel provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area so be sure to have some battery power left in your camera! After a picnic lunch we will drive to Nevsehir, formerly Muskara and now the capital district of Nevsehir Province, where we take time to visit Kursunlu Mosque. The mosque, which is situated in the centre of a court with three gates, has an elegant minaret 44m in height. The mosque was constructed in 1726 and the exterior displays a plain appearance while the interior sections are decorated with embroideries and patterns reflecting the characteristics of the Tulip Period of the Ottoman Empire.
In the late afternoon/or early evening it is optional possible to try a traditional Turkish bath, better known as Hamam.
(Hiking approximately 3-4 hours)
Cavusin is one of the oldest settlements in Cappadocia Area and it is here that we will begin today’s excrusion.
From the village we will start our walk directly towards the Zelve Monastery. Zelve does not have the rich frescoes of Goreme, but spread out over three valleys, of which two are connected by a tunnel, the monastery is still significant and unique in its design. Zelve, though recently uninhabited, was an important settlement and religious area during the 9th and 13th centuries. The Christians moved to Zelve during the Persian and Arab invasions which had forced them from their homelands and the area was inhabited right up until 1952, when the last inhabitants moved to the new town Yeni Zelve, 2 km away. In 1967 Zelve was turned into an open-air museum which we can enjoy today.
After visiting the Zelve Monastery & open air Museum we will drive to the Pasabaglari area (Monks valley) which is five minutes down the road. The Pasabaglari fairy chimneys are unique and feature bizarre toadstool-like caps which protect the rest of the chimney from erosion. The area was formerly a monastic retreat and used to be known as monk’s valley and features a rock cut church dedicated to St Simeon.
After visiting Pasabaglari area we take time to visit Avanos.
Later on we also have the option of visiting a local pottery studio to learn about the techqniues and materials used to create the earthenware products that we see used in many of the local housegolds, as well as sold to tourists as souveniers.
This evening we will enjoy a final farewell dinner in a local restaurant and discuss what we have learnt from our time here in Cappadocia, whilst enjoying out last taste of traditional and fresh local food.
The school adventure comes to an end this morning as we transfer privately to the airport for our flight homes.
Per Person, Twin Share