While in Cappadocia there are many activities you can take part in and get acquainted with local people and their customs. Below you will find information about the history of Cappadocia and some of the activities we suggest you to consider in the area.
History: Cappadocia is the old name of an ancient region in Asia Minor. This land is now roughly corresponding to present day Nevsehir province. The name Cappadocia derives from the word Khepat and the suffix Uka. Khepat was one of the names of the Sun Goddess of Arinna of Hittites, adopted from Hurrians. As for the suffix Uka according to Ernst Herzfeld “Studies in geography and ethnography of the ancient near east” P. 101. it is a Median transformation of the Armenian word ukh used to create people or country names. In fact in 585 B. C. Persians conquered Cappadocia where large Armenian communities used to live and started to call it their way as Katpatuka, originating from the meaning of “People of Hepat” which later was transformed to Kappadokia by the Greeks. However, a popular interpretation suggests that the name derives from Katpatukia meaning “the land of beautiful horses” in Persian. This interpretation must have based itself on the former existence of so called “Yilki” horses which lived in the nature in freedom.
The drawing on the left is from Yazilikaya Open Air rock sanctuary near Hattusa, depicting mother goddess Khepat or Hebat No. 43, with Teshub, the storm god next to her no. 42, Sarumma their son No. 44 is standing on a smaller lion.
In the 4th century the borders of the region were extending from the Black Sea at the North, to the Taurus mountain chain in the South, from Salt Lake in the West to the Euphrates river in the East. In spite of the fluctuations of its borders throughout centuries it maintained constantly its vital center in the central part of the plateau.
Discovering Cappadocia: Cappadocia is like a fairy tale land with its fascinating rock formations, rock carved churches and valleys. Many walking tracks allow hikers to explore caves and rocks looking like mushrooms, called fairy chimneys. The insides of these rocks have often been carved out to be used as houses, churches, stables and food storage depots.
Goreme open air museum is a spectacular place with its rock formations and the early Christian churches carved in the rocks. Many churches have been decorated with frescoes from the Bible and Old Testament. Early Christian monks and nuns were living here. Their objective was to spread Christianity by converting the illiterates by means of the colorful and artistic biblical frescoes. You may see groups of similar churches in Soganlı (Valley of Onions) and Ihlara Valley (Valley of Peristrema) carved and decorated with similar aim. Underground cities carved out for emergency defense purposes and storage of goods are also worth visiting. Derinkuyu, Mazi, Kaymakli, Ozkonak, Saratli, Ozluce, Tatlarin, Nevsehir are some of the underground cities located in the area. Rose Valley, derelict troglodyte settlement of Zelve which is now an open air museum, Pasa bagi (Monks Valley) with stunning fairy chimneys, Cemil Church, Keshlik monastery, Seljukian Caravanserais, Sobesos which must have been a remote Roman garrison of the old Roman times are some of the many other interesting places to see in the region.
Suggested Hiking And Walking Trails: Uchisar – Goreme; There are several trails in the region where you can go hiking. Right below our lodge there is a great trail in the valley, snaking up and down all the way to Goreme. On your way you can see stunning rock formations, deep canyons as well as ranges of fairy chimneys. After a while the trail splits into two. If you choose the difficult trail going right, it is wise to use some equipment as rocks have been eroded and they are quite slippery. If you keep following the cedar and juniper trees on the left that we have been planting, the easier trail will take you through the gorges and deep canyons to Goreme.
Rose Valley – Cavusin; There is no need to use hiking equipment unless you like to see some caves up above the walls of the canyons here. The trails are rather easy if you only like to visit some cave churches such as the Byzantine church with columns, the church with the cross or the Grape church. Grape church’s door is normally closed but there is usually a man from Ortahisar village. His name is “Haji” (Pilgrim) and he will give you the key to the church.
Soganli Valley or Valley of Onions; There are about 60 churches in this valley. Karabas church, Yilanli church, Kubbeli church and Sakli Church are on the right hand side of the two sided valley after you pass the main entrance where tickets are sold. The St. Barbara church is on the left hand side after the main entrance, where Soganlı restaurant is located by the small stream.
Ihlara or Peristrema Valley; This is another interesting and nice hiking trail which requires approximately 1 hour driving from our lodge in Uchisar. The Canyon is about 150 meters deep. It was formed by an earthquake which cracked the volcanic rock. There are 15 churches carved into the walls of the canyon and most of them can easily be reached by a narrow foot path. Purenli, Agacalti, Yilanli, Kokar, Purenliseki, Eskibaca, St. Georges, Direkli and Ala churches can be visited. The hike usually takes between 2 and 4 hours. In order to reach the small village of Belisirma you would need to turn left and follow the Melendiz river.
Gomeda Valley; Gomeda is one of the most interesting walking tracks in the area. It is one of the off the beaten tracks located in a remote corner of the volcanic region. It is easily accessible from the old Macedonian town of Sinassos.
Early morning walks: In Cappadocia farmers wake up early in the mornings to make their way through narrow paths on their donkeys or mule chariots to their orchards or vegetable gardens. In villages you may see local people cutting wood or baking bread for the community.
Whirling Dervish Rituals: Take the opportunity to go and see the dervishes who perform their ritual whirling dances in special places such as a medieval Caravanserai. You may enjoy the mystical experience of “Sema”, meaning ”Sky”, in a fantastic atmosphere. It is believed that the dervish could fly up to the sky during this particular ritual. Those were medieval saints of Seljukian Turks who were similar to their contemporaries like St. Giuseppe di Cupertino who was known by his ecstatic flights or St. Francis of Assisi who once suspended in the air.
Turkish Folk Dance Night
Folk dances from different regions of Turkey can be watched in a magnificent rock carved hall. Enjoy colorful folk dance shows while sampling delightful regional wines. And you have a chance to dance along yourself !
Yoga: Our quiet terraces are perfect for Yoga exercises.
Bird watching: Different bird species and other wildlife live in the valleys and in the nearby Sultansazligi.
Hot Air Balloon Flights: “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return”, Leonardo Da Vinci. The balloon flights will start just after the sunrise. Flying up above this fascinating land gives a person a different perspective of the area.
Horseback Riding: Horses are available in the region for horseback riding.
Hamam: Traditional Turkish bath called hamam as well as hot spa in the open air at Bayram Haci hot springs can be experienced. Hamam or Turkish bath cleansing is a long tradition in our country. Perspiration, massage, scrubbing makes hamam a rejuvenating treat.
Handicrafts And Daily Life: Young women can be seen weaving rugs on their looms. Some of these might be used as a dowry for their marriages. In autumn you may see them smashing grapes to
make grape molasses called “Pekmez”. This is a dark purple color sweet nutrient in liquid form and a good source of iron. This is quite a popular drink consumed especially in cold winter days. Some farmers cultivate pumpkins. Pumpkin flesh is used to make a delicious dessert mixed with walnuts. The seeds of the pumpkins will not be wasted. They will be baked in stone ovens for consumption. Baked pumpkin seeds are a popular snack in the evenings in the tea houses or during long winter nights.
You can take a guided tour with local guides. You choose which way you like to discover the area, on horseback riding, on foot, by car or by bicycle. If you like to discover some areas off the beaten track, we can show you around. There are many places few people know about. Such as Castle of Nevsehir, Museum in Nevsehir and Urgup’s Cemil church, Ortahisar and Pancarli Valley, Ayvali Village, Mazi Underground city, Rose Valley’s Churches, Guzelyurt.
We can help you arrange all the above mentioned activities upon your request. In addition, we provide Airport Transfers – Laundry – Car Rental services as well.
We also offer private driver-tour guide services all around Turkey and a number of other countries, such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan etc. For more information, please visit our website: www.privatetourturkey.com