Cave Churches and a bike ride

December 4th, 2008 by scott and becky

28 km, 2.5 hours

Nunnery at Goreme open air museum

Nunnery at Goreme open air museum

We began the day with a walk up to the Goreme open air museum , one of the best collections of cave churches in Cappadocia. The first set of dwellings you see upon entering are the nuns quarters. This large multi-storey cave structure looks an awful lot like Disney’s Magic Mountain. Unfortunately, due to instability, we were not permitted to enter the building.

When we entered the first church, Becky commented that the holes in the floor looked very much like coffins/tombs. Scott did not believe her, but eventually discovered that they were indeed coffins. Becky found it pretty creepy that we were walking over the remains of people as we entered most of the churches.

Another beautiful fresco - repeated in many of the churches

Another beautiful fresco - repeated in many of the churches

After seeing the first couple of churches, we were not too impressed. The simple red drawings on rock seemed look like the art work of a child. Where were the amazing frescos that we had heard so much about? We then discovered the Dark Church. This was an additional 8 Lira to enter, but was well worth it. The frescos were painted on plaster rather than on rock, and were much more impressive. These frescos had been restored, but other churches with similar plaster frescos were also quite beautiful.

In the churches, all the faces in the frescos have been scratched out. When we first saw the scratched out faces, we thought it had to do with the rise of Islam and a prohibition against the depiction of the human form for purposes of worship. Becky asked a tour guide who happened to be in the Dark Church at the same time as us. She said that in the 1920s the towns people felt that they were being watched by daemons. As a result, they scratched out the eyes and faces of the murals in all the churches in the area. It had absolutely nothing to do with Islamic prohibitions. There goes another compelling theory!

Scott, Becky and a fresco in the Apple Church

Scott, Becky and a fresco in the Apple Church

After our adventure in the museum, we got organized and went for a bike ride. This was our first real bike ride since leaving Italy, so we were both feeling rather rusty. The colder weather also poses a bit of a challenging, Becky had a hard time getting her layers just right. Given the hills and the uneven pavement, we did not too bad. We did realize that loaded riding to Kayseri on Monday is an unrealistic plan, we need to get back into shape before trying a 60km ride through the hills with a deadline. The scenery around here is awe inspiring, but also steep. We plan to do some more biking around while we are here, so we can see more of the stunning rock formations and start getting back into biking shape.

Scott stopped in a bike lane - the first we've seen in Turkey

Scott stopped in a bike lane - the first we

After our ride, we were both starving, and decided to try a set menu at “Kale Terrace Restaurant“, which promised a clay pot dinner. We had clay pot a few nights ago, and it was quite good – a stew, cooked in a clay pot, then broken with a hammer at our table. Unfortunately, tonight the “clay pot” meal was reheated in the microwave, and the sauce was both greasy and contained lamb, despite promises of “all beef”. Given Becky’s allergy to lamb, this has been our worst meal in Turkey. Our lesson for today – don’t eat the set menu if it’s really cheap, and you can avoid it.

Elevation Profile
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