237. Travels in Asia Minor – Cappadocia, Turkey

balloon flight above the mosque cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneThe golden autumn grasslands looked benign enough in sunshine from our balloon flight at dawn today, but 600 kilometres into Asia Minor, and 1,600 years ago, life was hard here. So hard, in fact, that an entire civilisation went underground. Literally.

underground church cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneCut up to 85 m deep in soft volcanic layers within Miocene to Holocene tuffs and ignimbrites, the underground cities of Cappadocia serve testament to how difficult life was for early Christians on these high and open plains.

Dangerous enough for whole communities of fifty thousand souls to seek refuge beneath the earth — at several places scattered around this part of northern central Turkey.

afternoon at the cafe in avanos cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneLife here is easier now than it was back then, but maybe not that much.

Avanos is a one horse town if ever I’ve seen one, and it’s clear the horse left quite some time ago.

It was still summer in Istanbul earlier this week, but as the late October afternoon begins to fade, it feels like winter is hanging low beneath the clouds.

square and shops avanos cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneIn a dry creek beside the hotel, an old woman in a headscarf is rooting through some rubbish as I run past. She doesn’t look up.

It’s just a mile to reach the Red River, through quiet and empty streets. A half-deserted supermarket and a photocopy shop stand in the square before the bridge — the new town’s commercial heart in need of some defibrillation, clearly.

bridge over the red river avanos cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneAcross the river, the old town of Avanos stands dilapidated and neglected. There’s an unlikely kind of gritty charm in the seventies blocks beside the bridge and in the beaten-up cottages along the road rising beyond it to the west.

Higher up the hill, I climb steadily past derelict dwellings to reach a graveyard on the slopes above the edge of town. Row after row of memorials to generations who have lived a different life from mine.

graveyard avanos cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneThe dusk is slowly falling by the time the call to evening prayer begins. As ever, it’s magnificent and mesmerising — there’s no better sound I know to define the pure translation and mystery of the East.

There’s a view from here across the wide plains of Asia Minor, while far below and beside the river, the streetlights are shining more brightly now against the autumn evening gloom.

nightfall in avanos cappadocia turkey by roadsofstone

Just ten minutes remain to relocate the shop for that perfect rug I failed to buy earlier on today. I put my head down and set tracks determinedly for the square. A short while later, I cross the Red River for one final time again.

at the carpet shop in avanos cappadocia turkey by roadsofstoneIt’s fully dark now, and the precious, secret parcel is safely wrapped and tucked beneath my arm — one small but magic carpet to transport us here to the plains of Cappadocia, over many years to come.

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2 responses to “237. Travels in Asia Minor – Cappadocia, Turkey


  2. Pingback: Cappadocia Mountain Biking - CAPPADOCE – CAPPADOCE

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