DAILY TOURS: Fairy Chimneys & Underground Cities

Tour Code :PER033CAP
City :CAPPADOCIA
Tour Name :Fairy Chimneys & Underground Cities
Tour Dates :DAILY
Duration :FULL DAY | 09:15 - 17:00
Available Languages :EN

WALK THROUGH THE RED VALLEY, VISIT OF CAVUSIN VILLAGE, UNDERGROUND CITY, PIGEON VALLEY & ORTAHISAR TOWN

The tour starts by picking-up from the hotel and the guests are transported to the tour meeting point. 

Cappadocia is full of otherworldly natural sites, most notably the 'fairy chimneys', tall, cone-shaped rock formations, Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes (cave dwellers) and later used as refuges by early Christians.

This tour will take you to the places and sites that usually stay outside of the regular 'must to see' programs and it starts with some 2 km walk through one of the most beautiful valleys of the region.

RED VALLEY

Red Valley is one of the nicest and most beautiful places to go walking in Cappadocia. 
The valley has a wonderful combination of ancient churches, panoramic views, and freaky landscape.

ÇAVUŞIN VILLAGE

Next visit will be to Çavuşin Village, surrounded by a valley which becomes gradually wider, allowing extended farming. Until the 1920s it had a mixed population with many Greek Christian Orthodox families. The old village, which was abandoned several decades ago due to rock falls, was all carved into the hillside. The inhabitants of Çavuşin lived in houses, which were cut into a massive rock wall. Now the insides of many of the dwellings are exposed due to hundreds and hundreds of years of weathering and erosion. They are covered in rubble and huge rocks and boulders, much of their former walls and various outer bits of the buildings. So, now from a distance you can look into a church or what was once someone’s cosy little cave home. A winding narrow path takes you to the top of the village. It is worthwhile climbing up there to see the valley behind it and in the distance one can see the pink pinnacles of Zelve and in the foreground a group of spectacular fairy chimneys.

The current village of Çavuşin is located on the road. It is still a quiet place, with men sitting drinking tea at the tea shop near the mosque, women in traditional Turkish village clothes. Most people who live here are still involved in farming to a certain extent.

Çavuşin has two churches, the upper church, the great basilica dedicated to St. John the Baptist (located on the cliff above the village) and the lower church, Çavuşin (Nicephorus Phocas) Church, commemorating a visit of the famous Cappadocian emperor Nicephorus Phocas.

The upper church, called St. John’s Church is probably one of the oldest and biggest cave churches in the region, dating to the 5th century AD. The Christians who lived in Çavuşin prayed in the old church near the top of the village. It had three entrances leading to three now almost separated naves. In the old times the naves were only separated by huge columns, but later the spaces between them were filled with stones, probably due to the danger of collapsing. The framed doors and windows of two naves are still in place while the rock closing the third nave has collapsed. Today a shaky footbridge is the only access to the church. The interior of the church has elaborate mouldings, columns and arches as well as reliefs showing crosses and stars. Their style is more similar to Syrian Christian architecture rather than the Byzantine one. 

The lower church, named Nicephorus Phocas, dates from the 960′s AD. It was founded by Nikephoros (bringing victory) Phocas II, a Byzantine general who was born in Cappadocia. The church probably used to be bigger than it is today. The paintings in view show that the narthex used to be closed, but now revealed after the rock has fell down. The main church has tunnel vaults, a high nave, and 3 apses. The complex includes 8-10 rooms on at least 3 levels. 

UNDERGROUND CITIES

These subterranean towns extend seven and eight levels into the earth, carved from the soft volcanic stone. There are underground cities at Özkonak, Mazıköy and several other places, but the most dramatic and interesting ones now open to visitors are the ones of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu. 
These troglodyte cave-cities were excavated as early as Hittite times, and expanded over the centuries as various marauding armies traversed Central Anatolia in search of captives and plunder. 
Stout rolling-stone doors prevented invaders from entering. Deep wells provided water, and tall chimneys ventilation. 
Wine presses, oil storage, livestock pens, cooking-places and even elaborate churches were carved out of the rock so that the inhabitants could live for weeks or months underground until it was safe to emerge and return to their ground-level villages. 

The temperature below-ground is a uniform 13°C. The walking surface is uneven, but not extremely so. 
The height of the passageways and chambers is often around 170 centimetres (about 5,5 feet), sometimes higher, but still you will have to duck your head in some places, and bend well over in others. Most dangerous pitfalls are covered and secured, and tunnels you shouldn't take are blocked.

PIGEON VALLEY

Next stop of today’s tour is Pigeon Valley, one of the most amazing places ever been seen; the rock formations, combined with awe inspiring views. The Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia consists of plenty of pigeon houses. In ancient days, pigeons were trained in this region to deliver letters and messages which was a major mode of communication. The pigeon droppings were also used as fuel and fertilizers. Traveller’s come to this place to see a wide variety of architectural structures. The pigeon houses are carved in rocks. The wonderful architecture constructed amidst the idyllic landscape makes it a magnificent sight. Chimneys have been craved in the rocks. The chimneys consist of caves which were used as hiding places for Christians who escaped from the Romans.

ORTAHISAR TOWN & FORTRESS

Ortahisar is famous for its friendly inhabitants, picturesque stone houses, narrow streets and lovely churches as well as the jagged castle that gives the town its name. This 90m high natural fortress, a prominent landmark in the region – honeycombed with caves and tunnels, camouflaged by nature without the slightest indication of human presence inside – has partly crumbled away revealing some of its interior. Today it has been restored and the peak is accessible by a staircase. The Ortahisar Castle offers a magnificent panorama over the fairy chimneys of Hallacdere and the snowy peak of Mt. Erciyes.

There are numbers of old churches, some of them just ruins, the others well maintained and have been renovated and re-opened recently.

If you follow the street close to the main fortress, you can visit Ali Reis Church with Christ on the main dome and the Balkan Churches.

The other churches in the vicinity are Sarica Church and the Kepez Church, and Pancarlik Church in Pancarlik Valley.

The Hallacdere monastic complex (also known as Hospital Monastery) is one of the best examples of the courtyard monasteries. It has vestibule, a kitchen, a large tomb chamber, five rooms of different sizes and a church with an inscribed-cross plan with four columns. The animal-head decoration on column capitals and the sculpture of a human figure on the wall are unique in Cappadocia. The ground level inside the complex is more than one meter below that of the courtyard level because of the silting.

Return to the hotel.

INCLUDES

- Transportation in fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle 
- Pick-up/ drop-off from the hotel 
- Professional English speaking guide 
- Entrance fee to the museums featured on the itinerary 
- Lunch at the local Turkish restaurant

EXCLUDES

- Any personal expenses 
- Any kind of drinks unless specified 
- Tips & gratuities 
- Optimal activities cost

NOTES

Disclaimer 
- This is a scheduled motor-coach tour 
- Group might consist of up to 20 people 
- Group might include the people of different nationalities, cultures, ages and interests 
- The regular tour is of a good value, but may not be the best choice for those who have special interests and/or concerns about keeping up with, or being held back by, a group. 
- Touring is paced to allow the average traveler reasonable time to enjoy each site
- Guest must be able to walk approx. 2,5 km (1,5 miles) over uneven and cobblestone surface; comfortable shoes are recommended. 
- In summer a hat and plenty of sunscreen will help as a shade is limited.

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