Avanos Potters Town
Avanos was known as Venesa, a city of Venus in the ancient Roman world and dedicated to goddess of beauty and love. The old city of Avanos is located on hills overlooking the longest river of Turkey. Surely, the Kızılirmak is the longest river in Turkey and it runs through the region, which has rich iron mineral content in the soil. For this reason, the color of the river is red, so the name means red color river.
First of all, the river was very well known in the ancient world and Greeks called this river as ‘Halys’, means salty water. Secondly, the rivers was the border between the Lydians and the Persians in historical times, where two different world was meeting each other. Consequently, the river gives a different character and life style to Avanos and this is quite obvious to visitors. The pottery making is the main local handcraft of the town and it is quite enjoyable to visit local workshops. The techniques, local pottery masters are using to shape red clay today, dating back to Hittite times.
Places to visit in Avanos
The town center is quite charming, there are many old Turkish stone houses are in use as pottery workshop. The most of these workshop has a potter’s wheel still operating and visitors can try to make pottery with the guidance of masters. The river side has many restaurants and cafes for lunch or nice break.
It was built in 13 century by The Turkish Seljuks to provide shelter and protection for the ancient traders on their way to Silk and Spice Markets in major cities of Asia Minor. Sarihan or Yellow Caravanserai is 6 km east of Avanos and it is very well restored. It is open for visitors as a cultural center, presenting nightly performances of dervish ceremony. The ornate portal gate of the building is quite impressive and a small mosque above it is worth to visit. Inside of the venue has a large courtyard where animals were loaded and unloaded, and a great indoor section is used for shows today, was used as a shelter for people and animals.
Ozkonak Underground City
North of Avanos the village of Ozkonak has an underground city that visitors can visit and see old winery, air shafts, rolling stone doors, grindstones etc. It is a relatively small underground city compare to Derinkuyu and Kaymakli but it is easier to visit and less crowded.
Cappdocia Hot Air Balloon
If you have not taken a hot air balloon flight earlier, do not miss the opportunity of Cappadocia hot air balloon activity because this is the best place in the world. There are several companies who offer the service but it is not inexpensive activity. Hot air balloons are flying early mornings at dawn from March to November, if the weather permits winter flights are also available. Average flight takes 1 hour and cost is around 150 to 200 Euros including breakfast and transport from hotel.
Flying with hot air balloon over the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia is the best way to see this unique land. It’s definitely a once in a life time experience. Once up in the air the view and the colors are fantastic. You will admire the magical fairy chimneys and valleys as well as spectacular landscape.
Hiking in Cappadocia
Cappadocia provides great hiking experience to travelers. There are many valleys attract visitors with volcanic formations. Cappadocia valleys have been formed by water and wind erosions. Each valley has different rock formations and colors due to mineral content of soil, like iron or copper. Red valley, green valley and white valley, they all have amazing shapes of rock formations, which surprise and marvel visitors.
Travelers can easily spend several days to explore Cappadocia’s valleys. All valleys were occupied by early Christians. They had carved churches, houses, amenities, stables and storages in these valleys. Cappadocia valleys are accessible, you can easily walk and explore the ancient rock churches and living quarters. Valleys around Goreme, Urgup, Uchisar, Cavusin and Ortahisar village are the most famous. While you are in Cappadocia take your time and explore these valleys. It does not require professional afford, as long as you are healthy enough to walk 4 to 5 kilometers in a few hours, don’t miss this activity.
White Valley or Baglidere is from Uchisar to Cavusin village.
Honey Valley or Ballidere is in Goreme village.
Rose Valley or Gulludere is between Goreme and Cavusin village.
Pigeon Valley or Guvercinlik is between Goreme and Uchisar village.
Swords Valley or Kiliclar Vadisi is near to Goreme open air museum.
Meskendir Valley is near to Goreme open air museum.
Red Valley or Kizil Valley is near to Goreme open air museum.
Love Valley is near to Goreme open air museum.
Horseback Riding in Cappadocia
Cappadocia refers to ‘’Land of Beautiful Horses’’ in ancient text. While you are in Cappadocia, you can join a horseback riding tour anytime during the day in any experience level. There are many reputable horse ranches, they provide good standard of services so travelers can really enjoy.
You can access remote and less known places of Cappadocia on horseback with experienced local guides. Therefore, this activity gives you an opportunity of unique experience so that not regular tourist groups are familiar with. Visiting valleys of Cappadocia on horseback and riding through volcanic formation are very unique experiences and unforgettable memories.
Pottery Workshop in Cappadocia
Avanos is potters town in Cappadocia. The ancient name of the town was Vanessa and it meant the city on water. The town is built on both sides of the Red River. Early people of the town were making ceramic items like plates, jars, amphora and vases from red clay since Bronze Age. Pottery decorated with geometric motifs over red or brown base has been given the title of Cappadocian pottery, as it originated primarily from the region of Avanos. Travelers from all over the world are visiting the town and joining pottery demonstration of local masters. Short courses and workshops are available to those who have extra time to learn the local handcraft.
Tasting Cappadocia Food
Turkish cuisine is considered to be one of the three main cuisines of the world because of the variety of its recipes, its use of natural ingredients, its flavors and tastes which appeal to all palates and its influence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The cuisine originated in central Asia, the first home of the Turks, and the evolved with the contributions of the inland and Mediterranean cultures with which Turks interacted after their arrival in Anatolia. It was refined and enriched over the centuries in the Palace of the Sultan, but its tendency for simplicity and natural tastes was preserved. In line with the Palace cuisine, regions of Anatolia developed their own gastronomic specialties.
Turkish Bath (Hamam)
Turkish bath is a traditional cleaning activity and still alive today in Turkish society. The idea of steam bath had passed from the Romans to Byzantines and travelers can see ancient Roman bath ruins in archeological sites. The Turkish people had steam baths practices in Central Asia, which they called Manchu. The combination of Asian tradition of Turks and the Roman bath culture had created today’s Turkish bath or Hamams. The Turkish bath has three section: the cool room, the tepidity room and the hottest room. Traditional Turkish baths have separate sections for man and women. The cleaning skin of a person by scrubbing with a coarse cloth, which is called a mitten, is the main feature of the experience as well having message with soap foam.
There are also some cultural aspects of Turkish bath as well as practical cleaning purpose. The bath or Hamam is also place for entertainments, ceremonies and oral tradition such as folk songs. Traditional Hamams have separate sections for men and women or they use the bath separate times. Women use bath during the day time and men use it in evenings or nights. Women sessions take longer because they bring food and entertain as a group around two hours.
Turkish Folk Dance
Turkey has a rich tradition of folk dancing with dances performed at all social occassions, from weddings and celebrations held for youn men leaving for military service to national and religious festivals or local festivities. Each region has its own dances which reflect the cultural life of that region. Some of the most famous dances are the Bar, originating from the province of Erzurum, the Halay in the East and Southeast, the Zeybek in the Aegean, the Horon in the Balck Sea and the Kasik Oyunu in and around Konya.
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony
Mevleviye are known for their famous practice of whirling dances. At their dancing ceremonies, or Sema, a particular musical repertoire called ayin is played. This is based on four sections of both vocal and instrumental compositions using contrasting rhythmic cycles and is performed by at least one singer, a flute-player (neyzen), a kettledrummer and a cymbal player. The oldest musical compositions stem from the mid-sixteenth century combining Persian and Turkish musical traditions. The repertoire was continuously broadened, and the first notations were made from the early twentieth century onwards.Dancers would receive 1,001 days of reclusive training within the mevlevihane, a sort ofcloister, where they learnt about ethics, codes of behaviour and beliefs by living a practice of prayer, religious music, poetry and dance. After this training, they remained members of the order but went back to their work and families, combining spiritualism with civic life.