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Goreme Open Air Museum

We had time for another instant coffee at the Konya bus station, then it was three hours or more to Goreme, with a brief break in Aksaray. (The bus station there has its own turkey/chicken coop/aviary, but is otherwise not very distinguished).

The view from the bus was pretty flat, with only some distant mountains, but it became dramatic as we dropped into the valleys carved into the plain. (Cappadocia was originally a lake, which filled with volcanic ash creating a huge volume of tufa, a soft volcanic stone which has eroded to form the fantastic chimneys and columns.)

the view from our hotel roof terrace
We were in the Arch Palace, which was just behind the mosque, the minaret of which made a convenient landmark, though it was dominated by all the "fairy chimneys". Our hotel owner/manager Mustafa thought we only had two days in Cappadocia, so he was eager to get us underway immediately to visit the Open Air Museum before it stopped accepting visitors at 4pm, and even drove us down there.
the Arch Palace Hotel
Mustafa had been married to an Australian woman and lived for some time in Australia. He'd worked in carpets before setting up the hotel, and the Arch Palace Hotel is beautifully decorated with rugs, on the walls as well as the floors.

The Arch Palace rooms are comfortable but a bit dark, though with the glorious rooftop terrace there's not much reason to spend any time in them. (The only drawback was that the hotel wifi didn't reach anywhere outside the tv room downstairs, but fortunately one of the neigbours had an unsecured access point that was reachable from the rooftop.)

The Goreme Open Air Museum is a valley full of rock-cut churches, many of them dating to around the 12th century.

half-eroded rock-cut church
The internal appearance of a normal church has been carved into the rock, even though most of the features made no sense in the new medium. As well as the churches, there are kitchens, dining rooms, and dormitories — this was a monastic community for six centuries or more.

Though many of the church frescoes are damaged, there are some that in really good condition — we paid extra to go into the "Dark Chapel", where the lack of light and access has protected the paintings.

blurry at 1/4 second without stabilisation
sharper frescos
We weren't allowed to use flashes inside — and I didn't even have one! — so with a seven year old camera with no stabilisation, not really pushable past ISO 800, photographing the frescos was a challenge.

We walked the few kilometres back to Goreme, in pleasantly cloudy weather.

jagged skyline

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