The Cappadocia Green Tour – Turkey
A great way to explore a lot of Cappadocia in a short amount of time is by taking one of the organized tours that are offered. The tours at Cappadocia are color based – Red, Green, Blue, or Orange. We decided to go with the Green Tour which encompasses Göreme Panorama, The Underground City of Derinkuyu, Ihlara Valley, Selime Monastary, Pigeon Valley, and finishes at an Onyx workshop.
We were picked up with a 16 seater van bright and early from our hotel. We were pretty fortunate that our tour group consisted only of another family family of 3 so it was quite a small group. Our first stop started at Göreme Panorama. Popular for its “fairy chimney” rock formations, Göreme Panorama had sweeping views of the landscape of Göreme that showcased some amazing rock formations. This is also supposed to be a good spot to view all the colorful hot air balloons from.
We enjoyed the view for a few moments until Tiff and Connie stumbled upon a puppy and couldn’t resist playing with him instead.
The souvenir stores sell a lot of these blue eye-like charms. We found out they were called Evil Eyes which are talismans to protect you from others who give you the evil eye curse. It is a very popular belief in Islam that individuals have the power to look at someone and cause harm to them. These little trinkets would protect you against those bad individuals. They can be seen just about everywhere and everywhere throughout Turkey. We saw an entire tree just lined with them which looked pretty cool.
From there we headed to the place I most looked forwarded to, Derinkuyu underground city. The area is an ancient multi-level underground city with paths and rooms as deep as 200 feet. It was said to have housed as many as 20,000 people and their livestock underground. The dwellers of the cave were Christians that lived in these hidden towns to avoid enemies and persecution from others.
There were lots of narrow tunnels and passageways that lead to larger communal areas. It’s pretty amazing to know that this relatively small underground space housed so many people and even animals.
The next stop was at the Ihlara Valley. We took a stroll through the canyon where the river carves right through it. There were huge boulders everywhere which look to be cause from rolling off the the canyon top.
After a 45 minute stroll through the valley we hike up a few sets of stairs leading to an opening of a canyon wall. The stairs lead to Ağaçaltı cave church which had some Christian paintings from the 4th century. This area had a population that were predominately Christians that hid the worship. Most of the individuals would practice their religion in secret spots such as this to prevent persecution from other groups.
We headed to lunch situated right by the water where we could enjoy the scenery.
After lunch, we drove a few more minutes to Selime Monastery which was another religious structure built into the side of a hill. The climb up and down to get there was a little tricky, but there are marked arrows to help guide you.
The monastery had a very large Cathedral sized church inside. It’s really fascinating to see the structures that were built in the early ages as people took advantage of their landscape to carve out living quarters in solid rock.
From Selime Monastery, we headed towards our last scenic stop at Pigeon Valley. The sun began to set as we arrived at Pigeon Valley. Pigeon Valley was named after the thousands of pigeon houses carved out of the soft walls. The inhabitants at the time built the pigeon houses to collect the droppings to be used as fertilizer.
The tour would not be complete without a trip to buy things at an Onyx work shop. There was a random assortment of jewelry, trinkets, and intricately carved pipes to choose from. Traveling with just carry-on luggage actually works out in our favor as we have no room to make impulsive purchases even if we wanted to! 😛
The Green tour is a well rounded tour and we thoroughly enjoyed all the interesting places they took us to. Given that these tours cover a lot of ground within a short amount of time and includes a guide to explain a lot of the history of each site, it’s a great way to see a lot of Göreme while on a budget.