Photographs and Commentary by Debra Jan Bibel

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The spelling of this ancient refuge is also "Cappadocia" but it varies, as with all geographic names, with language. I opted to use a k instead of a c to reflect its Persian and Greek heritage; the k sound is carried over in Turkish. The geology of the Göreme region is striking because of its eroded volcanic basalt forms and tufa. The peculiar hats on some structures resemble the formations in the Great Basin in the United States, chiefly southern Utah and northern New Mexico.  As we discovered, Cappadokia in distant central Anatolia (SE of Ankara) was where persecuted early Orthodox Christians took refuge and worshipped. Their labors with simple tools carved a city into the rocks, with interconnecting caverns and caves and various entrances and exits.  Hot air balloons, launched nearby in the cool morning air, are tourist recreation and seen in the distance as we travel. The weather was warm and the sky was bright, but as we entered the many caves and caverns, approaching clouds soon brought surprising rain and thunder. Our comfortable, quaint hotel provided breakfasts, but we had to travel into nearby towns for dinner, which was accompanied by entertainment. (I arrived exhausted and severely jet-lagged to the hotel in late afternoon directly from San Francisco after some 22 hours of travel and three airplanes, the last from Istanbul to Kayseri, a large city in the region.)



Happy first Impression: Upper Greek House, our hotel.

The 250-year-old building is located in the town of Ürgüp. The arches continue in curved ceilings in some rooms. The pleasant upper patio. The path branches off . . . . . .  to another level.


A tourist joint.

A peculiar ceiling with disco mirrored ball, suspended evil eye talisman, and a rifle as insurance.

Tabled alcoves around the circle. We would see this architectural form again.

Dinner is served. We are the only customers. I am jet-lagged, exhausted, but the food is welcome.





   Music: Hail Mary, Luke 1,23 & 42 [The Glory of Byzantium / Jade]: 3 min excerpt

Three sisters with chapeau present a striking pose; look carefully and see the cave entrance. A sweeping view affords early warning. The white mineral is valuable but protected. Several cave entrances are present. Two towns: one is conventional, the other is within rock and cone-roofed. Another view of the strange terrain. The Citadel of Uchisar commands the region.



On our travels , we detour at a jewelry demonstration and Kircilar ELMA Art Center factory outlet, This chap is cleaning and polishing gem stones.

Another worker concentrates on ornamentation. The large outlet glitters with temptations and eager salesmen, some polite and urbane, others coarse and biased.


A possible sale? As for me, a modern silver ring with red coral did catch my eye, and my wallet. When I reached this image in my editing, I was glued. The almost face-like features, the fantastic or mythological housing of ancient peoples , or perhaps elves. Göreme Open Air Museum: We enter one small section of a vast ancient network of once outlawed religious communities.



Into the retreat center. Iwo Jima was like this. Since Neolithic times, cave hermitages and communities have been common in  the Old World, e.g., China, Bulgaria, Serbia, Georgia, Egypt, Thailand. Were at least ladders available in the past? Still need to be cautious. Another eye-catcher. From inside an inner room. Hearths, candles, and torches illuminated the chambers. Along the path to another pillar. Inside such chambers are frescoes of Christian images,: Jesus, Mary, the saints, and Biblical story depictions, with subsequently painted decoration. No flash photography permitted in those dark rooms.


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Some of the frescoes. [Joshkun's photo, edited] A quick shot showing the juxtaposition of ancient and modern, rectangles and triangles.  Another detour to a ceramics factory, which was appreciated, in the form of gifts and ohs and ahs. This well-planned, camera-ready array welcomes tourists. Self-evident documentation.  We did not enter this apparently more artistic  pottery firm next door; I just like the craft and design of examples about the wall. Close-up for detail.

Another well-considered approach. It heightens curiosity.  Smoothing out prepared pots. The family-owned factory is built into the hillside. Various ceramics await painting.


Now the demonstration; fun craft education for tourists.


Ta-da! A Hitite-type wine vessel ready for the kiln.


A volunteer proves her mettle and talents.

Once inside the showroom, a feast of color. Choose your hue Attractive Hittite designs.


More examples.  Wine flask and goblet set. The server is used by placing the arm within the loop and tilting. A large platter.


Another room, another design.


A closer view.


Intricate design of a bowl.  The factory grotto exits into patio. At the close of the day, leaving the area, last views of fantasy terrain. Chimney features.


A Folk Dance Revue

   Music: Merzifon Bride Meeting [Hüseyin & Günay Tüurkmenler / Bazar Istanbul/ARC:] 3 min excerpt

Dinner-entertainment center. We have seen this architecture before.


The musicians. First, the oud player.  Then the clarinet, accordion, and davul drum. Kanun and  darbouka.


Our group gathers for the meal.  The revue of Turkish folk dances begins with Sufi-style turning. The dancers  showed form but not heart, alas.

The rousing martial dancers.  A nice ending to deserved applause. Then the women's turn.


The troupe continues.


Scene 1 from a marriage dance skit.


The bride is in the center. 
Skit final: the couple. My only photo of camp silliness. A tamer belly dance.  A sophisticated folk dance. The front view.


Line dance for the men.


Line dance for the women.  A belly-dancer closes the show. . . . and so our long day and  evening ends. Tomorrow we travel SW to the major city of Konya.      

© 2011 Debra Jan Bibel


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 On to Konya


Appendix: Food