Derinkuyu underground city, Ilhara Valley + Selime Monastery
Friday 28th May
view over Goreme
We spent pretty much the whole of the day — from 9.15am to 6.30pm
— on a day tour. The first stop on this was at a panorama point
looking over Goreme, but the major stops were the Derinkuyu underground
city, the Ilhara Valley and the Selime Monastery.
I took a few photos in the underground city, but quite apart from any
light problems it's hard to capture any feel for its size and layout.
It goes down nine stories and they reckon 5000 people may have sheltered
in it, for periods of up to two months. Some of the levels date to
Hittite times, but it hasn't been used since the Seljuk Turks arrived,
since they and then the Ottomans were powerful enough to maintain security
and civil order.
There are a few staircases where people can come down or up but not both,
and we had to wait five minutes while several large tour groups came
down before we could get out. Claustrophobics will probably want to
pass on the underground city tour.
The Ilhara valley is a fault with a pretty little river running down it,
and with rock-cut churches along its sides. We only walked a short length of
it - maybe 3.5km - and only looked at one of the churches. This was
the first time we got rained on while outdoors, and of course we hadn't
brought umbrellas or rain jackets. But it never got very heavy.
After lunch in Belisirma village, half-way along the valley, we were
driven to the Selime monastery at the other end. This was used by the
Seljuks as a caravanserai and much of it has been eroded, but there's
still a fascinating range of rooms one can clamber in and around, and
fantastic views across the valley.
Hasan Dag and Melendiz Dag
On the way back to Goreme we had views of the twin snow-clad peaks of
Hasan and Melendiz mountains. And near the end came the inevitable stop
at a jewelry shop.
For dinner we ate in a posh restaurant — Goreme is not cheap —
and tried the tetli kebap, which is a kind of claypot beef stew.
On the way back to the hotel we stumbled over a music festival, with a
group playing traditional Turkish music.
Next: balloon flight