This minibus tour takes you further out of the central region to a not to be missed Derinkuyu Underground City and trekking for 3½ kilometers in the beautiful Ihlara Canyon with lunch by the water at Belisirma village. On the return you can see Selime Cathedral and either Agzikarahan Caravanserai or Pigeon Valley viewpoint. This is a full day tour with pick up from your hotel about 9am.
Included in the tour: entrances and lunch. Not included in the tour: drinks and tips.
Green Tour & 1 Hour Balloon Flight Package = €100 per person
Green Tour & 1½ Hour Balloon Flight Package = €180 per person
In times of danger local people could safely hide in this underground city. Life (and death) could continue relatively normally in these well-ventilated caves lit by linseed-oil lamps, which had their own water supply, stockpiled food, kitchens, toilets, churches and even graveyards safe behind their gigantic circular mill-stone doors which could only be opened from the inside. The people could even cook food as multiple chimneys dispersed the smoke imperceptibly so their presence would not be discovered by the enemy.
The Melendiz River, originating from a spring and fed by the melting snows from Mount Hasan has carved a long gorge through rock deposited during volcanic eruptions. Because the gorge is invisible from the plateau it has formed a wonderfully hidden and sheltered place also called "the valley of the sky". The three villages on the willow-lined banks are still the home of traditional rural life, and you may spot women drying foodstuffs, spinning wool and milking goats. The 3½ kilometer walk ends in Belisirma village for lunch.
Lunch at Belisirma (the middle village), gives an opportunity to sample local dishes while relaxing to the sound of the water flowing by. This small traditional village may have roots going back thousands of years. After lunch, it is fun to visit the remains of a stone mill and "bezirhane", a linseed oil mill which pressed seeds to make oil for lamps before electricity came to the village. Next to these mills are the former village cave oven and a carved church. From here if you walk towards the river you will find the point with the longest view of the canyon; great for photographs.
Selime monastery, which could accommodate up to 5,000 people, has a huge cathedral sized church with tall carved columns dating from 8th–9th century. The enormous kitchen has a lovely chimney. There is also a water well, a missionary school, lots of storages and living quarters, a church and a chapel in addition to the cathedral. In the 11th century this monastery was converted into a caravanserai (motel for camel trains on the Silk Road) and there are still many tall stables suitable for the camels.
After the Seljuks conquered Anatolia their state needed to develop trade. They encouraged camel trains to return to the Silk Road by building caravanserais at every day’s journey’s end. These fortresses offered 3 night’s free accommodation and free shoe repairs for both the traders and their animals. Agzikarahan was built in the 1230’s and features both summer and winter accommodations, bath house, shops and a small mosque. They say that the image of a beautiful girl is hidden in the remarkably detailed stone decorations of the main entrance.
This spectacular viewpoint, famous for its live pigeons and evil eye tree, offers views of Pigeon Valley’s dovecotes, Uchisar castle, and on a clear day you can even see snow topped Mount Erciyes (3,916m). Local people still keep pigeons, a tradition going back thousands of years, because the guano (pigeon poop) is the best ever fertilizer for the Cappadocian volcanic soil. The inside of the pigeon houses has rows of small holes in the walls for the birds to nest, and the outside is painted with a unique pattern so that the birds can identify their own home.
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