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Posts tagged ‘Güzelyurt’

Road trip in Turkey part 7: more Guzelyurt and beyond

The local weekly market was on Wednesday so we went to have a look and buy what we needed for lunch. It was very cold that day and I pitied the women (for most of the stallholders were women) who sat huddled against the cold.

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just look at the size of these cabbages – more than enough to feed the average family!

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a worry-bead seller and friend

We found our way down into the Manastır vadısı (monastery valley). The actual monastery was an old Greek church which had been converted into a mosque.

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church/mosque interior

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angels over the doorway

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These were the last two churches, built into the rock face, in the valley but we didn’t go into them.

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views across the valley towards the underground city built into the cliff

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the smoke-blackened ceiling of the cooking/living area is clearly visible in this photo

There was a small underground city (yer altı) built into the cliff behind the church that we explored too although we didn’t venture into the lower levels as the path was really steep and the passageway very low. Underground city is something of a misnomer for in this case the city was built into the cliff rather than actually being underground although it did have a couple of underground levels. This was only a small such city but there are many others in this area of Turkey. Some of the more famous, like Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, are several (maybe 8) levels deep and have sophisticated ventilation systems as well as areas for keeping horses and other livestock. They were constructed hundreds of years ago and served as hiding places for many of the Christians in times of persecution.

We visited the yuksek kilisi (lit. the high up church), built right on the top of a rocky outcrop with views over the surrounding countryside.

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view towards Guzelyurt

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view towards the other sides

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The high church viewed from the other side

We tried to find Narlı golu (pomegranate lake) but Sally Sat Nav, as we’d nicknamed our satellite navigation system, led us completely astray and took us to Nar köyu (Nar village) instead.

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This turned out to be a village that modern life had passed by – full of tumbledown houses and some that were built right into the rock. Eventually we found the lake which turned out to be a volcanic crater lake and had lunch there with only a a couple of boys looking after a herd of goats for company.

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Much to our surprise a new wellness hotel has been established close by, doubtless to take advantage of the volcanic properties (and possibly thermal springs) from this crater.

From there we drove to Ihlara, famous for its landscape and deep valley with rock churches.

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Landscape near Ihlara

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We didn’t go for a walk in the gorge, contenting ourselves with the views from the top. DH and I had done the walk 30 years ago when we were younger and fitter!

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Little seems to have changed here ….

Then on to Yaprakhisar – apparently part of Star Wars was filmed here and then through the village of Selime and back to Güzelyurt.

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Approach to and views of Yaprakhisar

Road trip in Turkey part 4: Güzelyurt, Cappadocia

The next day we drove from Beysehir to Guzelyurt, passing through wildly differing landscapes.

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We stopped for photos at Altınapa barajı (dam).  We had to negotiate our way across Konya, population over 1 million (and home to the whirling dervishes). C remarked that it looked very affluent and then we saw a woman with a small child in a sling on her back begging at the traffic lights. There were lots of mosques there. A story is told about Ataturk that when his official car drove him through Konya he would draw the curtains because the fundamental nature of the city offended him! It is worth pointing out that he was responsible for dragging Turkey kicking and screaming out of the Middle Ages and that he wanted to create a secular state. He succeeded for a long time but unfortunately that situations seems to be going into reverse, much to the chagrin of the more educated Turks who would like to see it remain secular and tolerant. After Konya the landscape was flat as a pancake and really uninteresting; it looked as if lots of buildings here had been demolished and the land was dotted with factories and hardly any trees. We couldn’t decide if it was desert or had been planted with some sort of arable crop. We drove through many villages where the cottages were either made of mud or were completely tumbledown. It was obvious that life was pretty hard there.

We stopped at Aksaray to visit the Sultanhanı caravansarai for picnic lunch. We opted to have lunch first and visit the caravansarai afterwards thus managing to time our arrivial to coincide with coach loads of tourists

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the exterior of the Sultanhani caravansarai

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portal detail

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internal courtyard with the mosque in the centre

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the covered area used in the winter

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local mode of transport

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We passed more sugar beet factories with long lines of trucks queued up to offload the beets

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a blue and white mosque enlivens the sere landscape. Usually they are painted green so this one was a rare sight.

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the really flat landscape

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gradually changed to this

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and this

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and our road was blocked by a flock of sheep and goats crossing the road

We arrived Guzelyurt mid-afternoon. The hotel we were staying in, the Ihlara Konak, was made of up eight or nine old Greek houses which had been/were in the process of being refurbished.

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Some of the rooms had vaulted ceilings, like ours, and some were cave rooms but we didn’t manage to see any of these.

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After settling in we set off to explore the town. I asked a man with a kitten sitting on his lap if I could take his photo and he replied in Turkish that I couldn’t really understand – because he appeared to have some sort of speech impediment – that it was OK. Then he gave me a bunch of grapes from the bag in his hand. He tried to press more on me but he had already given me a good sized bunch – such is the generosity of strangers

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Further on I asked a group of women sitting making gözleme (a sort of flat pancake) which would be cooked in the communal over, if I could take their photo and they agreed although one or two stood aside so that they weren’t in the picture.

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We visited a pottery shop where I was allowed to take photos and the woman explained that the council allows them to use the kiln there so that they can have their own little business.

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carpets hanging out to air or dry

The others returned fairly soon to the hotel but I kept exploring.

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part of the Hittite konak section of the hotel with cave rooms and balconies overlooking the valley

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The cave sections painted white are used as pigeon lofts and the white paint makes it easier for the pigeons to find their way home.

I looked into the Taş Mahal (I liked the play on words here) winery where they make wine in a traditional way but there wasn’t anyone around.

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the amphorae in which the wine is produced

Walking through the narrow streets (definitely no cars here) I came across a group of women sitting chatting  and asked if I could take their photo. 3 agreed but the 4th hid her face  and then they asked me to take more photos of them and 2 little boys and send them the photos so one of the women wrote down the address and I have posted the photos to them.

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I found the view of the Manastır vadısı we’d seen on one of the posters but I was not sure if it was possible to get down there by car.

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long distance shot of the monastery showing cave dwellings in the background

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the figure carved in the lintel above the door is a stylised image of a Hittite goddess after which this part of the hotel had been named.