Derinkuyu Underground City
Derinkuyu underground city is one of the main tourist attraction of Cappadocia. Derinkuyu means deep well, It is indeed the deepest and one of the largest underground city of Cappadocia region. It is 35 kilometers away from Goreme Open Air Museum and the National Park. There are over 30 underground cities in Cappadocia but Derinkuyu is the most visited one with Kaymakli and Ozkonak underground cites.
History of Derinkuyu Underground City
The exact construction date of this amazing human made underground city and cave networks are not known. Nevertheless, archeologist states that use of Derinkuyu underground city goes back to the Hittites 1900-1200 BC during the bronze age. First of all, early Christians took the advantages of using them, not only to hide from enemies but also to keep their stocks safe and store their food in fresh. Secondly, Turkish villagers hide in these places during the devastating Mongol’s invasion in 13 century and also during the First World War in 1914 to 1918. Consequently, in the course of time and history people used the underground city for the same purpose, to protect their life and food from invaders and enemies.
Function and Use of Derinkuyu Underground City
The entire underground city was carved in to the soft volcanic material, called ignimbrite. Ignimbrite is a pumice-dominated pyroclastic flow deposit formed from the cooling of pyroclastic material ejected from an explosive volcanic eruption. This material is quite soft and it is easy to chisel. Over the centuries people dug down eight stories, approximately eighty meter below the surface until they reach the underground water. They also extended the underground city couple of kilometers wide to accommodate up to thirty thousand people at the same time.
Each story or level of the underground city has a different function and huge air ventilation shaft is centering them to circulate the fresh air. The first story from surface was used as stable, so animals can easily come in and go out without getting further contact with other levels. The second story was used as kitchen so smoke can easily funnel out of the underground city and missionary school. The third level was used as depots to store grain and food. The forth level was used as wineries and wine fermentation. The fifth to seven stories were used as living quarters and finally the eight story was used as a church for worship.
The temperature inside of the underground city is 15 degrees Celsius all year around. This is a perfect temperature for wine fermentation and storing grain for several years. The main tunnels of underground city that take people in and out, have many large rolling stone doors to block accesses against attackers and unwanted visitors.
Visiting Derinkuyu Underground City
Derinkuyu underground city is a museum, open every day and all year. When you visit the underground city, you may feel warm in winter, nevertheless you may feel cool in summer time. You may need a small flash light and you really need to be careful not to hit your head low ceilings as you walking through narrow tunnels. You may feel nervous, if you have a claustrophobia.
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.
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.