header_montage_1

GÖREME

Among the fairy chimneys                     Population: 2000

gor1Old names: Corama, Macan, Matiana, Avçılar

Market day: Wednesday

If Cappadocia lies at the very heart of Turkey, then Göreme, the tiny troglodytic settlement that wraps itself like bindweed around the dramatic fairy chimneys, lies at the very heart of Cappadocia.

Despite its seemingly remote location, this is an extraordinarily vibrant little community whose residents have been living with tourism for the best part of four decades. Not suprisingly, they know a thing or two about how to please their thousands upon thousands of annual visitors.

Although it started its touristic life as a backpacker favourite, Göreme is now much more sophisticated with hotels catering for the most discerning of customers and a few restaurants and shops to match.

The village makes a great base for exploring Cappadocia. It's within easy walking distance of the Göreme Open Air Museum with its many frescoed churches, and within short dolmuş rides of Uçhisar, Avanos and Ürgüp.gor3Rock-cut Roman tomb that is symbol of Göreme

Tour companies around town book day trips to sites such as the Ihlara and Soğanlı valleys that are further afield. A few arrange short tours to attractions outside Cappadocia such as Nemrut Dağı (Mt Nemrut). Some even offer a full travel agency service and can book tours all around the country. 

Old Göreme

The original Göreme was actually Corama, the Byzantine monastic settlement hunkered down in a giant plug of rock just over one km from the modern settlement, where the road starts its ascent up the hill to Ortahisar.

Here from the seventh century a community of monks and nuns made their homes, hollowing out the rock to create miniature churches and tiny chapels as well as refectories and storerooms. Here, in the utter peace of what was then empty countryside, they could contemplate their beliefs undisturbed, a pleasure rarely possible for modern visitors who must admire the artworks left behind and now protected inside the Göreme Open Air Museum alongside a myriad other tourists.

Luckily these artworks are wonderful enough to make up for the crowds, their designs reflecting trends in the wider Byzantine world while also betraying their provincial origins. The oldest of the churches such as the Azize Barbara Kilise (St Barbara’s Church) are decorated with what are little more than children’s sketches in red ochre. In many cases these were covered over later with more elaborate paintings; in some of the churches you can see the process in action where the overcoat has peeled away to reveal the sketches underneath.

Finest of all the churches is the 11th-century Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church)which is completely covered in brilliantly colourful and perfectly restored paintings of scenes from the life of Jesus.

Easier to miss but bigger and equally impressive is the Tokalı Kilise (Buckle Church), across the road from the main museum site but accessible with the same ticket. Here 10th-century frescoes of the Bible stories are strung out along the ceilings like strip cartoons which visitors could have “read” in the days before mass literacy.gor2Restoring the Tokalı Kilise, 2011

If you really can’t stand the crowds, don’t despair since there are plenty of other churches in Göreme that you can have entirely to yourself. Just uphill from the museum, for example, signs point to the Aynalı Kilisesi (Symmetrical Church, AKA Fırkatan Kilisesi), a huge basilica with unusual stone seating running round its apse, and monastic buildings and what appears to have been a meeting room roaming off to the rear.

Strolling back to the centre of Göreme, once the Byzantine settlement of Macan, along the main road you’ll also see signs off on the left to the restored El Nazar Kilise. It contains frescoes dating back to the 11th century but attracts relatively few visitors.

gor6Yusuf Koç ChurchEven within Göreme itself there are possibilities. You can, for example, visit the 11th-century Yusuf Koç churchin a very pretty, secluded location and attached to the remains of a privately-owned monastic complex complete with rock-cut refectory. Here on the walls you’ll be able to make out frescoes of the warrior saints Theodore and George, the patron saint of Cappadocia.

Not far away you can also drop in on the seventh-century Durmuş Kadir church which lacks frescoes but makes up for it by having an unexpected rock-cut ambo (pulpit) standing right in the middle of the nave.

Finally, cut into the wall of rock beneath the Esentepe plateau (the road leading to Uçhisar) you can visit the huge, soot-blackened Bezirhane, a church that was later turned into a linseed-oil-making factory. 

New Göreme

It was the ancient churches and monasteries that won Göreme its UNESCO world heritage site listing but the village itself has plenty to offer those who don’t much care what went on in Byzantine times.

These days it’s a rare visitor who doesn’t get their bearings on the landscape from the basket of one of the many hot-air balloons that take to the skies daily, weather permitting. From on high it’s possible to appreciate the way in which Göreme sits in the centre of a spider’s web of valleys that spread out in every direction, each with its own character and each with its selection of minor rock-cut monuments.

But if the scenery looks fantastic from the air it looks even better when you get up close and personal with it on a trek through one of the valleys. Behind the Tourist Hotel, just off the Open Air Museum road, a beginner’s walk leads to the Zemi Valley where even the least agile of visitors will be able to admire magnificent examples of fairy chimneys, some of them complete with caps of harder rock that protect them from erosion.gor4

For those of a sturdier disposition, a walk along the Güvercinlik Vadisi (“Pigeon Valley”) from neighbouring Uçhisar back to Göreme is a great adventure, offering ample opportunity to admire the traces of pigeonhouses from which it took its name and wonder how on earth villagers used to get into these lofty structures to dig out the guano that they used to use to fertilize their fields.

Some of the other valleys are best visited with a guide, either alone or as part of a day trip taking in other attractions as well. It’s also possible to hire a horse or quadbike to explore the valleys, usually with a guide.

Sleeping

Anatolian Houses. Tel: 0384-271 2463

Aydınlı Cave House. Tel: 0384-271 2263

Fairy Chimney Inn. Tel: 0384-271 2655Kismet Cave House. Tel: 0384-271 2416

Gedik Cave Hotel. Tel: 0384-271 2733

Kelebek Hotel & Pension. Tel: 0384-271 2531

Koza Cave Hotel. Tel: 0384-271 2466

Mithra Cave Hotel. Tel: 0384-271 2295

Sultan Cave Suites. Tel: 0384-271 3023

Taşkonak. Tel: 0384-271 2680

Tekkaya Guesthouse. Tel: 0384-271 2938

Terra Hotel. Tel: 0384-271 2531

Traveller’s Cave Hotel. Tel: 0384-271 2780

gor7Kadir Durmuş ChurchTransport info

The nearest airports to Göreme are at Tuzköy (Nevşehir International Airport, NAV) and Kayseri (ASR).

Turkish Airlines flies from İstanbul to Kayseri and Nevşehir. Shuttle buses will transfer you right to your hotel door but must be booked in advance. Sun Express offers flights from Antalya to Kayseri and Pegasus flies from İzmir to Kayseri.

For the time being, Göreme’s otogar is in the centre of the village. Overnight buses link Göreme with İstanbul and Antalya, via a change in Nevşehir. There are also regular buses from Ankara to Nevşehir with infrequent connections on to Göreme.

There are dolmuşes every half-hour to Nevşehir passing through Uçhisar; in winter they stop by 6pm. There are also hourly buses to Avanos via Çavuşin, and two-hourly services to Ürgüp passing the turn-off for Ortahisar - in winter this service stops by late afternoon. 

To visit the underground cities at Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı you need to take a dolmuş to Nevşehir and grab an onward connection.

Travel agencies

Heritage Travel. Tel: 0374-271 2687, www.goreme.com

Middle Earth. Tel: 0384-271 2559, www.middleearthtravel.com

hieronChapel of St Hieron, patron saint of GöremeDay trip destintions

Avanos

Aynalı Kilise

Çavuşin

Derinkuyu

Kaymaklı

Nevşehir

Paşabağ

Rose Valley (Güllüdere)

Ortahisar

Saklı Kilise

Uçhisar

Zelve

Read more: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-246972-goreme----ancient-heart-of-cappadocia.html 

Read the story of St Hieron: http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail.action;jsessionid=uyksaNg-apy5ABCYVsHVoZme?newsId=312111&columnistId=0

gor5

gor8

Events Calendar

August 2018
S M T W T F S
29 30 31 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1

Exchange Rates

Weather